Campbell River city councillor Larry Samson wants to stay on at city hall.
“I believe that Campbell River is going though some exiting times right now,” he said, “and we’re seeing the positive development that’s taking place in our city. We’ve turned the corner since the Catalyst mill site shut down, and I think it’s exciting to be a part of this community right now. We’re continuing to see positive growth, and I want to be part of it as we move forward.”
Samson is completing his first term as councillor, but is proud of what he’s been a part of thus far, and is looking forward to continuing to build on that work.
He’s particularly proud of his role in developing the last Strategic Community Plan, which is the document that each council sets forth when they first take office and determines the priorities of the community and how it will move forward.
Previous councils have had to make multiple changes to their strategic plan, Samson said, and the fact that the current council has only needed one alteration (changing the Willow’s Pub into office space), demonstrates how well researched it was, and how well the needs of the community were addressed, due in large part to the consultation process within the community that happened when building that document.
He’s also looking forward to building on the work the Public Safety Subcommittee, which he chairs, has been doing.
“We’ve taken a really proactive approach to things like homelessness, medical marijuana grow ops, vandalism, and we’re addressing some of the issues that come along with the increased number of contractors in town (for the John Hart Dam project).”
His main focus if reelected, he said, will be the creation of a Community Health Network, which will be an organization within the community that brings all the different players together to create a healthier community.
“This could be anything from walking trails to organizations that provide services to different segments of the population,” he said.
“The hospital provides, they say, about 15 per cent of the health needs of a community,” Samson said. “So that means 85 per cent of your health needs are other things that affect your wellbeing. It could be your exercise, your eating habits, support services in the community or different agencies like family services, Success by Six, different agencies like that. All this comes together to make a healthy community. That’s one of the things I’m excited about, bringing all these things together in a Health Network.”
He also wants to continue to develop services and programs for all the segments of the population, rather than focusing on certain groups.
“I want to see a city that’s there for the families, that’s there for the youth, and that’s there for the seniors. I think we’ve set the framework to accomplish that,” he said.
The challenge, as he sees it, is to take into consideration what everyone wants, and make as much of it a reality as possible.
“We’re seeing demand for an all-weather sports field; we’re seeing boaters wanting a new or expanded boat ramp facility; we’re facing aging infrastructure like the fire hall that needs to be looked at. We’re also seeing different departments wanting and looking at increasing staff, like the RCMP, Bylaw Enforcement, Fire Department. Citizens have approached me saying that they want year-round yard-waste pickup, as another example. It will be a challenge to balance between what’s reasonable and doable, while taking into account the problem of taxation and funding levels.”
Born and raised in Campbell River, Samson said his long career with the fire service exposed him to a lot of different types of situations that left him better able to adapt to situations that change unexpectedly, at times. His extensive volunteer work within the community also allows him to see things from multiple perspectives, and in drawing on those perspectives, he is to better able to represent a larger percentage of the population.
“I have an 87 year-old mother who lives here,” he said, “and I have an 18 month-old granddaughter here, so I see both ends of the spectrum and see where we need to be as a community and how we need to support the different needs of our citizens.
“I go to the family gyms, and you can’t tell me there’s not a baby boom going on here. There are families and kids everywhere, and I think that’s fantastic. That tells me we’re doing something right.”
He used examples like being at the pool with his grandson and seeing, “a class of moms with their babies,” and thinking, “This is cool,” and recently seeing a dozen or so youth playing pickup basketball on a recently renovated court, “and I thought, ‘if we hadn’t redone that court, where would those kids be?’”
Samson mainly just wants people to know, as he kicks off his reelection campaign, that he’s all about Campbell River, is proud of what his role has been and enthusiastic about what it could continue to be.
“I’m excited about what the future holds for the city, because I think, and it sounds corny, but I think this is the greatest place in the world.”
First chance to meet candidates
The first all candidates meetings for municipal candidates will be put on by the Campbell River Senior’s Centre Society in mid-October. The candidates for councillor debate issues Oct. 17 from 7 to 9 p.m. and the mayoral candidates do the same on Oct. 19 at the same time. Both debates will take place at the Sportsplex.