After nine years, Chris Wilson is stepping away from Coquitlam council.
Wilson, who serves as executive director at KidSport and also earned acclaim as one of Canada’s finest freestyle wrestlers, thanked city staff, residents and his colleagues at the council table in his final meeting last Monday.
Wilson was often an advocate for affordable housing as well as support for the city’s homeless population.
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During a discussion about replacing Spani pool, Wilson asked the area around the park could be used to create a temporary homeless shelter.
Amid a debate concerning an eventually-approved 42-storey tower in Burquitlam, Wilson underscored the city’s need for a diverse range of housing options.
“What we really need in our community is for these kinds of projects to include two or three non-market units so that we can slowly transition people out of homeless shelters into permanent housing.,” Wilson said.
On Monday, Wilson explained his decision to step down.
“Most of my life I’ve been an entrepreneur,” he said. “Unfortunately, municipal government is about as far from that as you can be.”
It was a privilege to serve the residents of Coquitlam, Wilson said.
“We have a community that’s very appreciative of all the great work that our city does,” he said. “We’ve very fortunate that we don’t have some of the same problems with our residents that other municipalities do.”
Most votes on Coquitlam council are passed unanimously, something Wilson attributed to councillors having similar values.
“We’re all rowing in the same direction. I’m very encouraged that these other two guys over here are going to keep on rowing in that direction,” he said, referring to councillors-elect Matt Djonlic and Robert Mazzarolo.
Wilson has faced some criticism over the years, noted Coun. Dennis Marsden.
“I have, over these eight years, had people say: ‘Oh, we’ve got to get rid of him, the way he votes,’” Marsden told the gallery. “I said, ‘It’s the same way I vote.’”
Wilson expressed one lingering concern before making his remarks.
“I just want to know who those people are that said we’ve got to get rid of this guy,” he said.
The 10-minute meeting concluded with a standing ovation for Wilson.
“Last time you got a standing-O you were wearing a singlet,” Marsden commented.