While there were seven candidates running for one seat on Squamish Council in Saturdays byelection, almost half of all voters cast their ballots for local businessman Greg Gardner.
According to preliminary results, about 2,495 Squamish residents cast votes, approximately 1,800 fewer than voted for mayor and council in last falls municipal election. Gardner received about 49 per cent of the vote, followed by Ted Prior with close to 16 per cent. The other five candidates each received fewer than 10 per cent of votes.
With clear support from the community, Gardner says he is excited to join council at their next meeting on July 11.
The byelection was held to fill the seat left vacant following the death of Ray Peters on March 30. Peters was recognized as a strong advocate for sports and recreation in the community, and Gardner feels ready to carry on that legacy.
"I like to think Im a strong advocate of outdoor recreation issues in Squamish, as are many in this town," he said. "Were the Outdoor Recreation Capital of Canada, we have great amenities, and I would like to see us continue to use and improve on those amenities for the betterment of Squamish."
Gardner said he decided to run because he was interested in helping to solve some of the growth issues facing the town.
"Most of the issues in Squamish right now are part of the rapid growth were experiencing," he said. "There are a lot of planning and land use issues to discuss, and were starting to see issues like affordable housing come up, which people are familiar with in Whistler.
"I think what got me really interested this time is all the development thats going on and the need to ensure whats happening is happening in a balanced and planned manner that were getting what the community as a whole needs."
One of the main issues during the campaign was the future of public and private lands on Squamishs waterfront, as well as a large number of planned housing projects and new subdivisions.
"Can it be managed? I think it can be," said Gardner. "The demand for real estate development is generally a good thing, it allows us in the town to shape the development the way wed like it to be, but the key is the management of it. We need a plan as we go forward, and to make sure the demands are met with infrastructure and amenities for things like parks and recreation."
Gardner says there was a chance he would have run for council during the next municipal elections in 2008, but only really decided to run in the byelection near the end of the nomination period.
Gardner is one of Squamishs most prominent citizens. He is owner of Greg Gardner Motors, which is a major sponsor of several local events. He is also a lawyer.
There were two all-candidates meetings and a meeting held by the Squamish Off Road Cycling Association in the run up to the June 23 election.