INNISFAIL – Dale Dunham’s first few years in Innisfail were unassuming as a self-employed home renovation contractor but his life dramatically changed last year after becoming co-owner of The Coffee Cottage.
The non-stop energy and enthusiasm he brought to his new venture, particularly through the pandemic, made The Coffee Cottage the place to be, even if it was just for coffee and a quick chat. Many citizens just wanted to feel a good vibe amidst the darkness brought by COVID. That enthusiasm won his coffee shop a national award and a local 2021 People’s Choice Award for Best Impact to the Community.
Dunham now wants to switch gears following a summer that saw him being a key inspiration behind the hugely successful and first-ever Innisfail Pride Day, the Innisfail Lantern Festival and Lemonade Day.
The 52-year-old is now seeking a seat on town council.
Does he want to see a multiplex being built? Sure. Does he want to see lower taxes? That’s a great idea too. Does he want more businesses in town? That would also be wonderful, he says.
However, Dunham has his eye on a greater priority.
Peace, and a healthy community.
Dunham wants to be a part of a movement on the new council that will turn around Innisfail’s current divisiveness and polarization to a place where the community is whole again.
“That’s first and foremost, a healthy community and if we can come back together then we can start attracting more businesses and I think that is something Innisfail desperately needs,” said Dunham. “Without having a healthy community though we are not going to be able to do that and the town is going to suffer in the long-term.”
But how does one heal the community wounds from the past year and a half?
Dunham believes it starts and come from a place of humility and openness.
“We need to put our egos and our own personal views aside and look to the community in a way that we engage with them, listen to them and honour what being part of a community in the town really means,” he said.
“If you reach out to the community without a personal agenda people will come together, come forward and they will be more open to trying to work with you to do things moving forward.”
Dunham has a long history of non-profit work, volunteering and community building from everywhere he has lived in his life, whether it’s been in Alberta and British Columbia. He’s an entrepreneur at heart and has successfully operated several small businesses, as well as working in the corporate world and picking up valuable experience on governance.
But politics is not a simple game. The hours are long and the prep work daunting. There’s a lot of reading involved to stay on top of the issues. Dunham believes he’s ready. He’s attended both council candidate workshops and local community meetings to learn more about local policing and development issues.
He’s also a current member of the Innisfail Welcoming and Inclusive Community Committee.
Perhaps most of all, Dunham is also prepared for the huge life change if elected.
“Yes, it is going to change my life in many, many positive ways but I am not going to be naïve and not think I’m not going to have to put up with some anger and some hate but I’ve got thick skin,” he said.
“I have dealt with a lot through my life and I think that has prepared me for this.”
For more on Dale Dunham’s campaign visit his Facebook page, Dale Dunham for town council, or his website at www.daledunhamforcouncil.ca/