Mary Ashley is always striving to make her community better. This woman does not sit still and serves as a role model, a mentor and an inspiration for those who strive to build a positive future for Campbell River.
She was Campbell River’s first female mayor, a City councilor before that and is a Freeman of the City of Campbell River. She has served on numerous boards in the non-profit sector, most notably the Campbell River Community Foundation – which she essentially founded – and the Island Corridor Foundation and many others. She also sat on the board of the Coastal Community Credit Union for nine years, only recently retiring from it. She has a three-page CV of community organizations she has been involved in.
As a newcomer to Campbell River in 1970, she got involved in community service, partly as a way to get to know people but also because it was a tradition in her family. Besides that, it is something she enjoys doing and she loves to give back to the community a little of what she and her family have gotten from it.
“We have received so much from this community,” Ashley says.
Ashley’s service is fueled by her boundless energy and sustained by her ability to work with people.
“I am a people person,” Ashley states simply.
She credits her time on City Council for developing a lot of her abilities.
“I learned a lot of that from being on City Council,” she says. “It had its challenges but it was a really positive experience.”
Ashley found being on council and then being mayor demanded all of the skills she had developed in her years of community service. In fact, it was, in some way, the ultimate community service work.
“I found it to be sort of the culmination of every kind of volunteer thing I have been involved in,” she says.
Her time as mayor was a period of significant challenge. It was the time when the Beaver Lodge Lands were discovered to be a parcel of land bequeathed in the 1930’s to the Province for forestry research and pulled the rug out from under the City’s plan to develop and subdivide the area for much-needed housing. It was a difficult time for the community that generated a lot of division, Ashley says. But the community found a way to adapt to the challenge.
Much like Ashley, who is never daunted by change.
“Luckily, I enjoy working with change. Some people don’t but I consider it a challenge. I think it’s exciting, change can be really exciting,” Ashley says. “And I never want to be stuck in a groove.”
And that’s what keeps Ashley going and showing no signs of stepping back from pushing herself and her community forward.
“For me and for the community too, if you think that there’s nothing that needs to be improved and you want everything to stay the same, I think you are on the wrong track. You should always be thinking about what’s coming in the future and what we can do to mitigate problems and to encourage well-being in the community amongst all people who live here. You’re never going to run out of ways of improving situations.”