At first, Randy Collins wasn’t really serious about running for city council.
“I got into this with the idea of just getting some issues out there,” said the 61-year-old Riverdale resident. “I just wanted to get some things discussed.”
He also thought that giving himself a bit of notoriety might help him find a full-time job.
At the moment Collins, who works two part-time jobs, is a clerk at Bernie’s Race Trac during the week and a delivery driver for Pizza Hut on the weekends.
But from the positive reaction he had after putting his name forward, taking on another part-time gig as a city councillor doesn’t seem far fetched, he said.
“The more I got into it, the more I thought, ‘I have a few ideas on how things could be changed, how they could be improved,’” said Collins.
Number one on his list is affordable housing.
On a recent trip to Vancouver, Collins saw an advertisement for modular homes.
“My numbers could be off, but I think they were offering $1,000 down, $600 a month, rent-to-own,” he said. “I saw this ad and I went, ‘Why can’t they do that up here?’”
While the city has a development incentive policy offering tax breaks to developers for building rental housing, Collins said it should go further, and raise the taxes on expensive luxury homes and condos.
“I’ve got some radical ideas,” he said.
Collins and his wife came to the Yukon from Edmonton five years ago. They were looking to escape the city, he said.
“I’ve said for years that Edmonton was the big city with a small-town atmosphere,” said Collins. “But in the last couple of years it lost the small-town atmosphere.
“It’s just a big bloody city. It’s lost that friendliness.”
Before moving to Whitehorse, the furthest north Collins had ever been was Watson Lake. That was years ago, when he was touring as a drummer in a country/rock band.
He’d heard stories of Whitehorse as being a hard-drinking, rough-and-tumble town.
“We got up here and for me it was a it of a shock to find out that this city is actually a lot bigger than I thought it was. And it’s moving, it’s starting to progress,” he said. “I personally think Whitehorse is on the verge of a boom, and if I get into city council or if I don’t, the fact is, I’d like to be here when it starts to happen.”
A self-described “little guy” with no previous political experience, Collins said he’d like to represent the “voice of the people.”
After spending 30 years in the hotel business, Collins rose through the ranks to become general manager.
“Before I got the job, I always thought that as general manager I could do whatever I wanted, no one can touch me,” he said. “But, I found out that head office is up here saying, ‘Why are you doing this? Why are you doing that?’
“No matter what position you get, no matter how much power you have, there’s always somebody to answer to.”
It’s a lesson that most of the territory’s politicians seem to have forgotten, said Collins.
“I’ve talked to people and they’re angry, they’re upset,” he said. “The way I look at it, they figure nobody’s listening.”
Although Whitehorse has its fair share of problems, it also has a tremendous amount of potential, said Collins.
“I think there’s a lot of very intelligent people in this town … all it requires is for some people to sit down at a table and go, ‘We have to do this. How are we going to do it?’”
Collins is the fourth person to announce their candidacy for city council.
The municipal elections will be held October 18.
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