Whitehorse city councillor Samson Hartland has become the first prospective candidate to declare his intention to run for mayor in the city’s Oct. 21 municipal election.
Hartland made the announcement in a statement March 4, noting his decision to run is one he made with his family.
“We made the decision as a family to run for Mayor of our great city because I am deeply committed to our community and believe I can continue making a positive impact,” he said. “I would be honoured to continue to serve the people of Whitehorse.”
Hartland, 42, is currently serving his third term as a councillor with the first being from 2000 to 2003. His current stint as a councillor began in 2015 and continued with his re-election in 2018.
In a March 4 interview, Hartland, who currently works as the executive director for the Yukon Chamber of Mines, said with the mayor in a full-time role, it’s an opportunity to focus solely on the city, working with city staff every day, taking on more of a leadership role on council and playing more of an ambassador role on Whitehorse’s behalf at various community events.
Hartland said he and his family looked at their priorities and his goal of focusing more on the city in deciding to seek the mayor’s seat.
Hartland grew up in Whitehorse and he noted his commitment to family and small business in the Yukon has guided his career both in once owning his own shop — Grizzly Collectables — and in positions that have seen him work with many businesses through the Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce as well as in his current position with the Yukon Chamber of Mines.
Hartland has also long served as a translator for his hearing-impaired parents, including on an episode of CBC Dragons Den when his father successfully secured an investment for his Yukon Smoked Salmon business.
“My wife Lindsay and I are so proud to call Whitehorse home and raise our children in the best city in the world,” Hartland said. “Access to recreation, retail, education, health care, wilderness, along with the cleanest drinking water and air in the world, and world-class industries, we truly punch above our weight class. I’ve learned many lessons and gained much experience throughout my three terms and I hope I have the opportunity to apply those skills in a way that continues giving back to our community.”
Hartland said throughout his time on council he has worked to keep city costs in check, ensure transparency and focused on efficient operations of the city.
In the coming term, he said the city’s continued work to draft an updated Official Community Plan (OCP) will be a “big, big piece” in determining the city’s direction in the coming years.
Work on the plan has been underway for some time, but is not expected to wrap up before this council’s term is finished, which means it will be up to the next council to adopt the document. The OCP acts as a guiding document in determining land use throughout the city.
“We need to get this work done,” Hartland said. “This is a serious rewrite.”
The updated OCP is anticipated to include provisions aimed at re-establishing a healthy supply of building lots to keep up with the city’s growth as well as keeping costs down to ensure the cost of living in Whitehorse does not negatively impact senior and vulnerable populations.
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