Sam Waddington is the first one out of the gate in Chilliwack to declare his intention to seek a seat on city council this fall.
The 24-year-old owner of Mt. Waddington’s Outdoors store on Vedder Road says he’s eager to tackle the various challenges facing Chilliwack.
“I’m invested in Chilliwack in every way,” he told The Progress Friday. “I grew up here, I went to school here and I have a business here.”
He headed out after graduation, travelled internationally and then came back to settle down.
“I put down roots here. I’ve also put my trust in this city as the place where I most want to live, work and play,” he said.
He’s been watching the decision-making processes in Chilliwack with interest, and will be ready to become a council candidate once the nomination period starts in October.
“I love what we have here in Chilliwack, and with that love comes some responsibility. I want to ensure I do my part to continue to make it an even better place, and especially to make sure the things that people love about our community are not lost. I will do my best to provide a steady hand at the helm as we grow.”
But why declare his intention this early in the race?
He felt he either had to increase his participation in local politics or step back. Declaring this early in the election process will also give potential voters an opportunity to seek him out and tell him their concerns and priorities.
“It gives the community a chance to give me some feedback in the coming months about what types of issues matter to them,” he said.
His top issues include downtown revitalization, transit, and solidifying Chilliwack’s tourism position in the region.
“I would also love to see Chilliwack city hall move downtown. I think that would make a definitive statement about revitalization.”
He’s been thinking about running for council for a while.
“The past two years I’ve been getting more involved in my community,” Waddington noted.
He’s been attending council meetings regularly to watch how the city conducts its business.
He’s a Rotarian, and a member of the Chilliwack Community Arts Council board, as well as local Outdoors Club board. He was a spokesperson for the Save the Paramount Group, when residents were coalescing in an effort to stop the demolition of the Paramount Theatre.
“I want everyone to know I’m not running in reaction to anyone or anything. It’s not to unseat or oppose anyone. I’m going to run in the belief that I have some thing to offer this city.”
Regardless of the team eventually assembled by Chilliwack voters, Waddington says he’s confident he will be able to work with them.
“For me this all started with the love I have for this town. It is a truly unique place with its blend of urban, agriculture and wild spaces.
“I don’t believe the city is on the wrong track, but it could take a better one,” he said. “There’s always room for improvement.”
Chilliwack is at the stage of growth where it is seeing a lot of opportunities present themselves.
“I think our future will be determined by how we handle those opportunities. We will have to be very mindful about how we grow.”