Barry Cunningham calls for change at Prince Rupert council

Barry Cunningham is the new councillor for the City of Prince Rupert.

Barry Cunningham is the new councillor for the City of Prince Rupert.

Cunningham defeated five other candidates in a byelection on Saturday to fill the Prince Rupert council seat vacated by now North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice.

Cunningham unofficially picked up 39.8 per cent of the ballots with 943 votes out of the 2,372 cast, Gurvinder Randhawa was second with 746 (31.5 per cent) and Wade Niesh was third with 417 votes (17.6 per cent).

James Kirk, 109 votes, Larry Golden, 88 votes, and Len Lovering, 69 votes, rounded out the field. Unofficially, voter turnout was just more than 25 per cent of eligible voters.

“I think [the win] was because I’ve lived here for a lot of years. People know me as an honest, hard-working person and a lot of people recognize me,” Cunningham said following the victory.

The campaign trail, however, was an eye-opener for Cunningham.

“When I got out there on the street, there was a lot of people with a lot of advice. Prince Rupert has heart and we have to take all that energy and work on improving the city,” he said.

Cunningham, who was the lone candidate unable to attend the all-candidates forum due to complications with kidney stones, told the Northern View that changing how Prince Rupert attracts business is key.

“I would like to see the city become more business friendly … I’m not sure if that’s loosening up bylaws … but rather looking at each individual business and working with them,” he said.

“We have to attract businesses and attract them into town. The port is getting the bulk of the new projects and we’re not getting a lot of tax base from it.”

Cunningham was sympathetic to the current council saying their hands are tied, but changes are needed.

“This is my first time [on council], so there are a lot of things I’ll have to check out … but the taxpayers can’t take much more and there isn’t much left to cut, we have to increase [the tax base],” he said. “But it’s hard to work these things when you’re almost broke.”