INNISFAIL – Ryan O'Donoghue has a special vision for the town for a special group of citizens who will form the backbone of the community into the future.
These are young families. They are the ones, said O'Donoghue, who will stay to make Innisfail everything it can be. But this can only be realized if the right voices are on town council, he added.
“There is obviously a larger older population but there is also a large population of young families who I believe I can give a voice to, so they are not forgotten,” he said. “My thing is that we are a young family with a one-year-old boy. I found there wasn’t a lot of people on council who had young families.”
O'Donoghue, 27, has been living in Innisfail for the past three years with his fiancé and one-year-old son. Originally from Delburne he moved to Camrose for schooling.
After graduating, O'Donoghue moved to Red Deer, and then to Penhold for two years before landing in Innisfail where he now runs a web development and media company.
Comparing Innisfail to other small communities he’s lived in, O'Donoghue said as an Innisfailian he believes there is the same “small town vibe” he experienced elsewhere; a place where he knows all his neighbours, and they know him.
With young families at the forefront of his platform, O'Donoghue is firmly behind the growing momentum in town for the building of a multiplex facility, one that would see either a new aquatic centre, or an extensive upgrade to the current facility. O'Donoghue also want to see additions or the revitalization of activity hubs that are geared towards citizens with young families.
“Obviously it has to be discussed and finalized more,” he said of the “big ticket” items like a multiplex. “But at the very least we need upgrades at the pool. The pool is too cold for the young ones. My one-year-old actually can’t be in there because he just shivers."
He said the recently completed million-dollar skatepark is “wonderful” facility for youth.
“It’s just packed all the time,” he said. “With stuff like that, we can go to Red Deer a lot less if we want to get out of the house and do things with our kids.”
However, O'Donoghue still believes it’s often difficult to keep local citizens invested in Innisfail, despite continued growth. He maintains a big reason is that services are not increasing at the same rate.
“There is still a lot of reasons to go to Red Deer, and I would like to people just to be able to stay in town,” he said. “I would like to focus on just keeping people in town and not having to go Red Deer for basic needs.
“Innisfail needs to be a place where people can fulfill all of their daily needs within the town. We have an amazing town and we owe to the people within it to help keep those that want to stay here.
“This means supporting local businesses, and the locals who run those businesses, day in and day out.”