INNISFAIL – Nathan Harrington has taken a long and interesting road for more than 30 years to come to a point where he earnestly wants to serve the people of Innisfail.
The 41-year-old retired correctional officer turned small businessman is running for Innisfail town council, a decision made amidst a crippling pandemic that has created a great divide in the community. While his views for its management have angered some, he also wants to move forward as a positive voice for change that will trigger prosperity and peace.
And if he’s elected, Harrington is ready and happy to work with any of the other candidates who have earned the right to serve the people, regardless of any political differences.
“Whatever council we end up with it, and which ever people get elected, it’s the forefront issue they will have to deal with, and we will have to work together to do it,” he said of the COVID pandemic. “I think it’s going to be a matter of looking at what are we allowed to do under the law, and what do the people want. We have to consider both sides. We have to consider the safety of the community.
“But part of it is just willing to listen to each side, and allowing enough people to speak so you can get a whole picture of it and then coming to a conclusion rather than just listening to just one organization.”
Harrington’s journey to Innisfail began in 1990 when his father, a RCMP officer, was transferred to town. After high school and university graduation, he successfully applied to the Correctional Service of Canada to become a federal correctional officer at Edmonton Institution, a maximum-security prison.
He later transferred to Bowden Institution, and ultimately left to focus on his new small business; a cannabis retail store that was licenced in 2019.
“It has been overwhelmingly positive to be quite honest. We gained a loyal following of customers who we help with education. We’ve noted a lot of healing. What we’ve noticed that more and more seniors are coming in,” he said.
That healing has spilled over to a key part of Harrington’s election campaign. He absolutely maintains that if he’s elected to a new council, one that could see many on the opposite side of his beliefs on pandemic management and other issues, he has a solution for that.
“On a basic level it’s love, gratitude and forgiveness. You have to be grateful that they are wiling to go up onto that council an put themselves forward,” said Harrington. “If they’ve been elected a lot of people support their ideas, and the other thing is forgiveness. If you feel like they are doing something wrong, instead of holding that against them you forgive them and work with them to figure out what you can do to make it better.”
Harrington said a common election issue he’s hearing is for Innisfail to have more opportunities for employment and industries. If elected, he wants to introduce a plan to give new businesses and residents two-year tax breaks to entice them to move to Innisfail.
“Right now, if they are not coming here anyway, we’re not losing any taxes,” said Harrington, who added the idea comes from other municipalities that have tried tax breaks.
“If they’re going to choose between 10 different local municipalities, they would be more incentivized to go there.”
“It’s just a matter of looking at creative possibilities rather than looking at the barriers of what can’t. I think if we can look at some heart-based decision making – working together – we can all figure that out.”