Longtime city councillor and former mayor Charlie Cornfield is running for mayor of Campbell River.
Cornfield says as mayor he wants to be involved in managing positive change. He believes the key to achieving that is through balance and he uses a footstool as a metaphor.
“So, it’s about balancing,” Cornfield said. “You look at things like environmental values and social values and economic values.
“Those are what we call the three legs of the footstool. And it’s about balancing that. It’s not about the environment over economics or social. It’s about how do you manage all three and move everything forward and up? They’re all integrated, interlocked, interconnected.”
Cornfield uses the example of habitat restoration work in the Campbell River estuary to explain what he means.
“Is that environmental? Or it is economic? Because you’re hiring people, you’re putting equipment to work. So, they’re all linked.”
About Campbell River, Cornfield says, “I love this place. I chose to move here not just because of the location. It’s just got everything, right? We’ve got location, we got climate, we got nature, we got all kinds of activities. An awesome place.”
But it’s also about the people, Cornfield says.
“It’s more about people and people make the place,” he says. “I’ve worked all over the province. I’ll match Campbell River against any community…for that can do attitude. When the community is faced with a challenge, we look to solutions. Not the woe is me, or what we can’t do, but rather what we can do.”
Cornfield was first elected to council in 1996 and served three terms before taking a term off as his employer, the provincial government was undergoing change. Then he ran for and was elected mayor in 2008 and served one term as mayor. He returned to council in 2014 and has served since then. All in all, it totals 20 years on council.
That’s a lot of experience on council and Cornfield acknowledges that’s what he brings to the table but his focus is on doing what’s right for the community not what he wants to do.
“I’ve got the experience, got the knowledge, skills. And one other thing that’s really important, that’s integrity. And that’s to lead council and bring the community together. It’s not about what I want or what council wants to vote, (it’s) what the community needs.
“I have the skills and the ability to do that. So it’s about doing what’s right, not what’s convenient.”
Cornfield doesn’t have to think long when asked to say what accomplishment he’s most proud of.
“The hospital,” he said.
Cornfield was chair of the Regional Hospital District when he was mayor and has been back in the chair of the Regional Hospital District since 2014.
“So it took a lot of work by the whole community,” he says. “Although there was a lot of really good people worked for a long time, about 17 years…to get the hospital concept that we needed.”
Cornfield also listed the work he contributed to on the watershed protection bylaw that produced a template that the province used for water protection legislation arising out of the Walkerton, Ont. tragedy in 2000 (in which agricultural waste flowed into the municipal water system and the e coli contamination killed six people).
“So we developed, basically, the template for all of the drinking water initiatives in the province,” Cornfield said.
Campbell River also lead the province in riparian protection when it did a comprehensive development plan for Kingfisher Creek. Other things that were important to Cornfield were the extension of the airport runway and the sustainable official community plan.
The biggest challenge we face, according to Cornfield is the social issue surrounding the unruly behaviour downtown.
It’s challenging because it’s not a homogeneous group of people that’s involved. The people experiencing homeless ness are there because alcohol addiction, drug addiction and mental health conditions.
“So I think you need to bring the whole community together. And we need to really strongly advocate, because it’s not our legislative mandate to deal with those things, but we do have a moral responsibility to get involved and play our part,” he says. “And I think that’s the biggest issue, from a social perspective. I want people in this community to feel safe when they go downtown. So we need to invest in solutions that are going to fix up the downtown.”
Associated with that are the housing issues of affordability and supply.
“Let’s talk about housing issues, because I know that that’s really important. I mean, the prices have gone insane. But there’s not too much the city can do. It is a market-driven business.”
But Cornfield believes that encouraging some outside the box thinking – like tiny homes and mobile homes – can provide a mix of housing options.
Another issue important to Cornfield is learning to work better with our First Nations neighbours.
“To me when you pull everybody together, there’s nothing that we can’t accomplish,” Cornfield said.