Buying waterfront top priority as Murphy seeks Cornwall mayor’s seat

David Murphy and daughter Julia, 13, gather with supporters at the Best Western Parkway Inn on Tuesday, May 1, 2018. Murphy is seeking to be mayor of Cornwall after serving two terms on council. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston)

CORNWALL – The city’s first candidate for mayor says the municipality will need to buy as much of its waterfront as financially possible.

“As much as we could and as much as we can see something to proceed,” David Murphy remarked, shortly after announcing his mayoral bid Tuesday night (May 1).

“Do I see development on the former Domtar lands? Potentially, but you’re limited. A little further west of that, there’s opportunities for potential development beside the retirement home.”

Murphy, a two term councillor, made his bid official before roughly 60 supporters at the Best Western Parkway Inn.

In his five minute speech, Murphy says he will plan for a new fire hall, a “functioning” arts center, completing the Cornwall Business Park and a “vibrant, active and fun” waterfront that’s “not filled with condos.”

As for the city’s finances, “we don’t have a revenue problem, we have an expenditure problem,” he said, changing to a more serious tone.

In an interview with Cornwall Newswatch, Murphy said he now wants to “guide the ship” and to work closely with more senior levels of government.

The 46-year-old born and raised Cornwallite believes team building around the council table needs to happen.

“That’s not only the last two (administrations). When I was covering as a reporter in the 90s, it was the same issue. You had fractured councils. So I don’t think it’s something new but it’s something we can mitigate.”

While not mentioning him by name, Murphy suggested that leadership under the current mayor, Leslie O’Shaughnessy, is lacking.

“We had respect in that first term. This term, the respect is still there but it’s waning and that’s a concern…it’s disappointing that we haven’t been able to move forward more collectively than we have.”

During his speech, Murphy said a good mayor would not “dissuade, lecture or attempt to belittle colleagues in public or in private.”

Without hesitation, Murphy told CNW the waterfront will be the most important future issue for the city.

“We have to secure that and I know it’s going to be costly. If we don’t control the waterfront, if we don’t own the waterfront, we have no say it what goes up. The feds can lease it. We saw with the tanks in 2014. They signed a long term lease. The same thing could happen again if this corporation (Canada Lands Company) decides to sell to private developers,” Murphy said.

Based on what he’s heard from residents, Murphy envisions boardwalks, shops, bicycle rentals and winter trails through the waterfront. “You can’t do that if you have private developers there.”

Murphy is quick to add that he has nothing against private development but some areas of the waterfront are not suited for it.

Voters will go to the polls October 22 for the municipal election.