By John Swartz
Mayor Steve Clarke has decided not to seek a third term as Mayor of Orillia.
“It’s been a wonderful 8 years, for many reasons, but at some point everybody’s got hang them up,” Clarke said when spoken with on Sunday. The media release confirming his decision not to run issued Monday came as no surprise.
During the course of his two terms in office many things have changed in Orillia. The harbinger was the complete surprise visit by Hydro One officials 6 months after Clarke took office, offering to buy Orillia Power Corp. Council also moved quickly to get the Orillia Recreation Centre site located and built.
“I think in the fact that we’ve had very productive councils,” is a hallmark of his time in office. “We did large projects and we did more of the maintenance type things, continuously increasing the budget for road resurfacing and new sidewalks, so I think it’s the way council worked together is the one things I’m quite proud of,” he said.
Despite embarking on a number of construction projects, the City’s finances (e.g. reserve account debt) improved dramatically during his tenure.
“I guess the other thing is we accomplished a number of significant projects and the City is in better financial shape than it has been in many years.”
What Are Councillors Doing?
The 2022 municipal election season the opening day is today. 6 councillors are hoping to keep their jobs managing the City’s affairs. SUNonline/Orillia surveyed every member of council over the weekend and these are the results of asking the primary question, along with highlights councillors have of their last term of office and what they intend to work on if re-elected.
Ward 1 councillor Ted Emond is also not going to run. He made his announcement in a media release, saying thank you to all for allowing him to serve the City for 15 years during the last 37.
Emond’s accomplishments while in office range from working to have the OPP (when Emond was mayor) and Hydro One locate in Orillia; the annexation of the West Ridge, to playing a key role in waterfront development, the Orillia Recreation Centre, and the Climate Change Action Plan.
Emond’s Ward 1 counterpart, Dave Campbell is running.
“Even as we speak I am roaming the streets of Orillia getting my 25 signatures so I will have them in time for my appointment Monday morning,” he said. His accomplishment’s to date are:
“I’m really proud of the See You On The Patio Program.”
“At lot of the environmental issues we’ve dealt with, the Climate Change Action Plan is huge. That’s is something very meaningful that we are doing that is actually going to make a difference to the future of the lives of the people that live here,” he gave for his top 2 gains. His to do list includes:
“I want to implement some of the suggestions in the Climate Change Action Plan.”
“We’ve had lower than average tax increases. There’s huge affordability issues, so continue to be fiscally responsible, spend within our means,”
Ralph Cipolla has unfinished work he’d like an opportunity to deal with, so he’s running again.
“If the province gives us the go ahead to build a new hospital I am going to work to have it centrally located,” and
“The waterfront, I want to make sure the Terry Fox Circle stays in place; keep it as close to the existing turnaround as possible,” Cipolla said.
While in office he was able to achieve:
“We were able to put the rec center together, which I’ve been working on for 40 years,” and,
‘One of the important things we did was the Climate Change Action Plan.” Cipolla said.
Councillor Rob Kloostra has an appointment to file nomination papers, but has not done so as yet. He has not spoken with SUNonline/Orillia, but did send a text message saying he, “will be happy to chat after the provincial election.”
Both Ward 3 councillor are running again.
Councillor Jay Fallis’s past accomplishments are not the big ticket kind of political wins, but nevertheless important ones. Fallis initiated the creation of a night-time warming centre for homeless people and a phone in newsline for seniors who aren’t online. Yet to do are:
“Affordable Housing needs to be a priority in this city and I want to make sure that issue is top of mind for the next Council,” and,
“Another priority is ensuring our next council is making responsible planning decisions that keep in mind Orillia’s small town feel and protection for Orillia’s beautiful environment.”
Mason Ainsworth responded by text he is running, and also said, ““In regards to your questions, feel free to reach out after the provincial election.”
Councillor Tim Lauer who has been on council for most of this century is running again. His accomplishments include the recently adopted Climate change Action Plan.
“We’ve still got a long way to go,” he said, “but at least we’ve got the makings of a good plan.” Redevelopment is also something he’s proud of.
“The waterfront; I’m glad to see it’s in the shape it’s in. We’ve got a ways to go, people are going to have to be patient, but I think the end result is going to be really worth it.”
Those two items figure into his focus if he remains on council.
“I want to see the waterfront through to completion,” and,
“I want to get more aggressive with the climate change action plan; it’s just a basic plan and there’s lots of room to accelerate,” Lauer said.
Councillor Pat Hehn has not decided yet whether to run or not, saying she likely will not decide until July.
The election rules and process for being nominated can be found on the City’s website. In the past anyone could just show up with a surprise nomination, but this time around an appointment to file is necessary and the link for forms and making an appointment are also on the information page noted above.
(Photos by Swartz – SUNonline/Orillia)