Pillai pulls out

Whitehorse city councillor Ranj Pillai will not be running in next month's municipal election. It's true - the man who brought Hockey Night in Canada to the capital will not be seeking re-election.

Whitehorse city councillor Ranj Pillai will not be running in next month’s municipal election.

It’s true – the man who brought Hockey Night in Canada to the capital will not be seeking re-election.

“Over the last couple of months I was just trying to look at a bunch of different options,” he said. “I really appreciate having the opportunity to do it and it’s a phenomenal experience.”

Pillai sat on the Whitehorse Elementary School Council before becoming a city councillor. Those combined commitments have meant time away from his two sons.

If he were successful in getting elected for a second term, his eldest would be 14 by the time that term was up. His youngest, meanwhile, turns six on Friday.

“For his whole life, I’ve been involved in something,” said Pillai. “I just want to spend some time with those guys and really focus on that before they’re teenagers.”

Opportunities are also coming up for Pillai’s career, both “academically” and for his consulting business, he said, although he wouldn’t offer any details.

Looking back, Pillai lauds big events like Hockey Night in Canada as great successes and a lot of fun but says his work in helping change the way the city runs is what he is most proud of.

The organizational review that the municipality’s administration recently held was a priority for Pillai.

“I always felt that there was a deficit when it came to morale,” he said. “And I felt that there was accountability issues. People seemed to, in certain situations, drop the ball and truly there was no accountability for it. You can’t run a public organization without an accountability model.

“You also had two directors that were in a situation where there was absolutely no way that they could be on top of all their responsibilities with the magnitude of departments that they had under them.”

Part of the changes from the review will mean two more senior managers.

“There’s always going to be issues that a number of people are for or against, and no matter what way you go, you’re going to leave people upset, but I truly believe that implementing this organizational change is going to lead to a healthier organization. I truly think this is something that is fundamentally going to change the course of the city.”

Pillai is also confident in Stan Westby, the city’s new top manager.

He points to the former Powell River, B.C., chief administrative officer’s ability to resolve the curling club’s rent issue in one meeting as testimony to his non-combative style and ability to consult “meaningfully and effectively” with different groups.

Pillai disagrees with the city’s policies that shove community concerns into strict evening time slots or emails.

“Some people work in the evening,” he said. “If you really want to have effective consultation, you really have to look at the people you’re consulting with … and figure out what’s going to be the most effective form. And I think this new city manager really understands and he’s in line with the values I have.”

Pillai also points to the debate and eventual adoption of anti-racism and discrimination policy as a high mark in his council career.

And there were successes that didn’t get much media attention.

After being approached by a couple in Takhini, Pillai helped establish a Montessori school in the hilltop neighbourhood that he is proud to say he was a part of.

“When I started, a lot of people had said, ‘You can’t make change,’” Pillai said. “But I was lucky enough on probably at least four issues, or five issues, to actually table the motion, take it through, build support, build a case and then actually get it done. It takes a lot of time to do that and it takes a lot of conversations. But when you do, it feels great.”

Pillai hopes his replacement will have the same motivation.

“You’re going to have your own perspectives but do as much outreach as possible,” he said to future councillors. “Remember that you are sitting in a seat that belongs to the people of Whitehorse. It’s not your seat, you’re just getting to sit there for a while. Don’t ever forget that.”

Pillai is joined by Coun. Florence Roberts and Mayor Bev Buckway who have also announced that they will not be seeking re-election.

Councillors Kirk Cameron, Dave Stockdale and Betty Irwin have indicated they will run again, leaving Coun. Dave Austin who has not yet announced what he will do.

The election is on Oct. 18.

Contact Roxanne Stasyszyn at

roxannes@yukon-news.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A proposed Official Community Plan amendment would designate a 56.3-hectare piece of land in Whistle Bend currently designated as green space, as urban residential use. Whitehorse city council will vote on the second reading of the Official Community Plan amendment on Dec. 7. (Courtesy City of Whitehorse)
Future area of Whistle Bend considered by council

Members set to vote on second reading for OCP change

The City of Whitehorse’s projected deficit could be $100,000 more than originally predicted earlier this year. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
City deficit could be just over $640,000 this year

Third quarter financial reports presented to council

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley speaks during a COVID-19 press conference in Whitehorse on Oct. 30. Masks became mandatory in the Yukon for anyone five years old and older as of Dec. 1 while in public spaces. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
As mask law comes into effect, premier says $500 fines will be last resort

The territory currently has 17 active cases of COVID-19

Crystal Schick/Yukon News file
Ranj Pillai, minister of economic development, during a press conference on April 1.
Government rejects ATAC mining road proposal north of Keno City

Concerns from the First Nation of Na-Cho Nyäk Dun were cited as the main reason for the decision

asdf
WYATT’S WORLD

Wyatt’s World for Dec. 2, 2020

The new Little Salmon Carmacks First Nation council elected Dec. 1. (Submitted)
Little Salmon Carmacks elects new chief, council

Nicole Tom elected chief of Little Salmon Carcmacks First Nation

Submitted/Yukon News file
Yukon RCMP’s Historical Case Unit is seeking information related to the unsolved homicide of Allan Donald Waugh, 69, who was found deceased in his house on May 30, 2014.
Yukon RCMP investigating unsolved Allan Waugh homicide

Yukon RCMP’s Historical Case Unit is seeking information related to an unsolved… Continue reading

A jogger runs along Millenium Trail as the sun rises over the trees around 11 a.m. in Whitehorse on Dec. 12, 2018. The City of Whitehorse could soon have a new trail plan in place to serve as a guide in managing the more than 233 kilometres of trails the city manages. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
2020 trail plan comes forward

Policies and bylaws would look at e-mobility devices

Snow-making machines are pushed and pulled uphill at Mount Sima in 2015. The ski hill will be converting snow-making to electric power with more than $5 million in funding from the territorial and federal governments. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Mount Sima funded to cut diesel reliance

Mount Sima ski hill is converting its snowmaking to electric power with… Continue reading

Colin McDowell, the director of land management for the Yukon government, pulls lottery tickets at random during a Whistle Bend property lottery in Whitehorse on Sept. 9, 2019. A large amount of lots are becoming available via lottery in Whistle Bend as the neighbourhood enters phase five of development. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Lottery for more than 250 new Whistle Bend lots planned for January 2021

Eight commercial lots are being tendered in additional to residential plots

The Government of Yukon Main Administration Building in Whitehorse on Aug. 21. The Canada Border Services Agency announced Nov. 26 that they have laid charges against six people, including one Government of Yukon employee, connected to immigration fraud that involved forged Yukon government documents. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Charges laid in immigration fraud scheme, warrant out for former Yukon government employee

Permanent residency applications were submitted with fake Yukon government documents

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Mask fundraiser helps make children’s wishes come true

From Black Press Media + BraveFace – adult, youth and kid masks support Make-A-Wish Foundation

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

Most Read