Campbellton could be in for some major changes, according to the city council candidates who attended Tuesday evening’s all-candidates forum.
The meeting was hosted by the Campbellton Neighbourhood Association at the Eagles Hall and attended by about 100 people.
Candidates discussed the creation of a community garden for Campbellton as well as a river revitalization project and much more.
Main Street project
Bob Bray said he would focus on adding a mile of flowers to Campbellton’s main street to help beautify the area. Candidate Marcia McKay had several suggestions.
“Let’s talk to Greenways Land Trust to get some garden plots going, let’s plant some trees, flowers,” McKay said. “Let’s paint our crosswalks, let’s fill our ditches. Let’s get rid of those overhead wires.”
Darryn Striga, who by random draw was selected first to speak, said as an active member of the Campbellton Neighbourhood Association that beautifying Campbell River’s northern neighbourhood is a priority for him if elected to city council.
“Campbellton is our entranceway, there’s no way around that fact,” Striga said. “This is where the highway ends and where we put our first foot forward, why aren’t we making a better impression?”
Entrance sign and feature project
Les Lengyel said he would fully support adding a feature sign at the entrance to Campbellton. The Campbellton Neighbourhood Association has discussed adding a float plane replica or some other feature at the Inland Island Highway entrance to Campbellton.
Lengyel said he supports revitalizing Campbellton as it’s one of the city’s main entrances.
Charlie Cornfield said he believes that adding an entrance sign to Campbellton would benefit the community as a whole, adding that it would be the right thing to do. Cornfield praised the Campbellton Neighbourhood Association for all the work it’s done and said it’s now up to council to implement that work.
Todd Jones said it seemed “odd” that Campbellton doesn’t have a sign already and said that securing one would be top of mind.
“It’s a number one priority,” Jones said.
“I believe we need something to show people ‘this is Campbell River.’”
Marlene Wright said she believes a transit hub in Campbellton is “very important” and said if elected, she would ensure it’s centrally located and well-lit. Wright also showed her support for the Campbellton Neighbourhood Association.
“I’m very proud of you,” Wright said. “I think you’ve done a really, really good job of getting people to realize Campbellton is an important place in our city.”
Colleen Evans said she believes that looking at a transit hub in Campbellton is an excellent opportunity to look at future planning and to encourage community growth. She said the projects Campbellton is working on align with her vision for Campbell River, which includes a community that supports health, safety, economic prosperity, and recreation.
Rescue the River project
Andrea Craddock said that improving access to the Campbell River in Campbellton will not only be a draw for local residents but for tourists as well.
“Projects would include safe viewing platforms, trail restoration, re-planting native plants and others,” said Craddock who noted that she spends a lot of time on the estuary as a member of the River Spirit dragon boat team.
“I can see the value in putting some projects in to restore it to what it could be.”
Michele Babchuk said the river also holds a spot near and dear to her heart.
“My husband currently is the operations manager at the Quinsam Hatchery,” Babchuk said. “It provided bread for our table and it provides bread for a lot of people’s tables.”
Babchuk said if elected, she will be eager to work with the Campbellton group to advance the river project and to promote Campbellton’s unique heritage.
Incumbent Larry Samson said to him, rescue the river is a priority and though it won’t be an easy fix, it’s something that needs to be done. He said part of that is working to fix the fact that storm water drains run right into the water.
“There are so many things that we could do along the river,” Samson said. “We haven’t always treated our river properly and it’s time we do so.”
David Christian said as a fisherman, protecting the river is something that he fully supports. As is the preservation of Baikie Island.
“It’s a world-class asset,” Christian said. “ The community has to preserve that and raising its profile is critical to this community’s success.”
Community Garden project
Incumbent Claire Moglove said she believes a community garden is just what Campbellton needs.
“Having a community garden in a community like Campbellton I think would create a community focus and not only that, the food it would produce for the community,” Moglove said. “I think it’s a short-term, low cost, relatively easy project to be able to complete in the foreseeable future.”
Incumbent Ron Kerr, who has been the council liaison to Campbellton, said Campbellton is on its way and the city has recently installed new sidewalks, crosswalks, curbing, and is currently working to add a traffic light and wider lanes at the intersection of Petersen and 14th Avenue. Kerr said there’s no reason a community garden couldn’t happen in the near future.
“It only needs the will to do it and it could be in place within the next year,” said Kerr who suggested the city could use space on 15th Avenue.
Peter Klobucar said he would also support a community garden, saying that “it would be great to see people come together.”
Jim Parnell, the last to speak, said he has always had a soft spot for Campbellton as he bought his first house on 15th Avenue and raised his children there.
“All of this revitalization for Campbellton is such great news,” said Parnell, adding that improvements are still needed.
“The ditches that are there, you can lose a kid, let alone a car. The ditches need to be filled in. A community garden is something I’m sure the residents would love to see happen. It’s great to see the kids involved and it’s great for the neighbourhood.”
Ziggy Stewart used his time to encourage constituents to cast their vote for him.
“You need somebody in council who’s serious and wants to get the job done,” Stewart said. “I seriously thought about not running but somebody needs to do this. I’ve got the experience and I want to do it.”
The council candidates will be on the hot seat again tomorrow night as the Young Professionals of Campbell River and the Campbell River Mirror host a candidates forum at the Tidemark Theatre from 6-10 p.m.
The municipal election is Saturday, Nov. 15. Advance polls are today and Nov. 12 between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. at the south end of Tyee Plaza.