Ward Two Candidates

By John Swartz

This week SUNonline/Orillia will publish information about each of the candidates running for Orillia council. Election Day is October 24. All candidates were asked to forward a brief bio about their connection to Orillia, and paragraphs outlining two of their platform issues.

In addition they were asked to answer two questions and all were subjected to a word count limit. So let’s meet the Ward Two candidates.

Alan Bayne:  I am the former owner of Friends Diner. I am a large supporter of the Rotary Club of Orillia and Knights of Columbus Orillia. I am a lifelong resident of Orillia and I want to represent this city the best way I can.

Ralph Cipolla: I am a life-long resident and business owner of the City of Orillia. I have, along with my wife Dianne, operated CC Fashion in Orillia’s downtown for 51 years. I have served 5 terms of on council dating back to the late 70s. During the past term I have been the primary driver to implement affordable housing in Orillia. I am a member of the Rotary Club of Orillia and a key volunteer and supporter of the Mariposa Folk Festival since it’s return to Orillia.

Gilles Depratto: Gilles and Brenda Depratto have been married for 36 years and have 3 grown children, Jordan, Ryan, and Paige who all continued to reside in the Orillia area. Gilles and Brenda are proud grandparents of two grandchildren. We have resided on Brandon Crescent in Orillia’s Ward 2 since September 1998. Gilles is bilingual in English and French and a university graduate with an Honours Bachelor of Commerce degree. After 34 years of dedicated service, Gilles retired as a detective inspector with the OPP. In his final 4 years with the OPP, he was the OPP representative for the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls national inquiry. Gilles attended Indigenous family circles, and presented investigative details to loved one’s families on unsolved homicides, closed suspicious deaths and ongoing missing persons investigations. These emotional circles of consultation and active listening brought about the reopening of 4 suspicious death investigations and reclassification as homicides. The families were appreciative of the face-to-face open communication Gilles brought to their community. In his career Gilles investigated, case managed or provided administrative support to over 100 homicide investigations. Gilles investigated large scale frauds, and economic crimes as a member of the OPP’s anti-rackets branch. Gilles has been community oriented since his move to Orillia in 1998 coaching various youth sports teams in Orillia (Orillia Minor Hockey, Orillia Minor Soccer, Huronia Stallions Football). Gilles also served as an executive member on the Orillia Minor Hockey board for many years and is a member of the City of Orillia’s commemorative awards committee. Gilles has been a supporter of numerous small businesses in Orillia since becoming a community member.

Harold Dougall: Harold has lived in Orillia since 1960. He has served on Orillia’s accessibility committee for 6 years and volunteered with the Mariposa Folk Festival, the Orillia Scottish Festival. He ran for council on two previous occasions.

Ian Gordon: I am retired after 34 years with FLDSmidth / Dorr Oliver. I have lived in Ward 2 for 50 years. Currently I am a member of the Orillia recreation advisory board, the 2022 Canada Day Celebration and volunteer with the Princess Margaret Ride to Conquer Cancer. In the past I have been co-chair of the Orillia Legion Minor Ball league, a member of the CANUS Games executive, at Twin Lakes Secondary School and on the board to build the Skid Watson YMCA.

Brian Hare: Brian Hare has been a member of the Orillia community for over 53 years. He has now retired from Honda after 23 years of service. Since retiring he continues to own and operate Orillia First Aid, a business his wife Sandra and business partner Lynda McNabb originally started as Orillia First Aid & Safety Training. He has always wanted to run for council and now being semi-retired has the time needed to commit to the citizens of Orillia. Brian has always been an active member of the community. Over the years he has volunteered for Scouts Canada, The Park Street Players, the Orillia Opera House, and Mariposa Arts Theatre Foundation. He continues to volunteer for the Orillia Santa Claus Parade, The Lighthouse, Orillia Canada Day (both as operations manager and a board member), and Uplifting Blessings. In 2017, he was awarded the Order of Orillia for all his hard work within the community. Although he has never held a political office, he does have experience working on councils and in union settings. He was a union steward and the treasure for OPSEU Local 323 for 10 of the 13 years he worked at the Huronia Regional Centre. For the last three years he has been an executive board member for Orillia Canada Day committee. Although these are not political offices, they have given Brian experience of working with a wide variety of people and issues.

Dael Morris: I grew up in the  Cook’s Bay area of Lake Simcoe and have deep roots in Orillia. I have lived in Ward 2 for 20 years. Before opening an antiques store, Gutta Percha, in 2013, I worked as a freelance forensic entomologist in Canada and the United States, and also spent a decade working for the Royal Ontario Museum. Previous political experience includes petitioning against the sellout of Orillia Power Distribution and I was also an intervener in the case held with the Ontario Energy Board.  During the recent provincial election, I volunteered with the nonpartisan Ontario Health Coalition to bring awareness to the privatization and monetization of public health care. I also run the popular Facebook group Local Orillia News, which I started in 2017 following the closure of the Orillia Packet & Times as a forum for residents to discuss local events and issues. 

Robert Winacott: I have been a resident of Ward 2 for over 10 years. I moved to Orillia with my wife Amy in 2005, I have owned & operated Autoflex Sales & Leasing for over 17 years here in Orillia. Building a business from the ground up I have acquired many skills that would be beneficial for city council from leadership, budgeting, negotiation, problem solving, customer relations and more. I’ve been a volunteer coach for OLMB for over 11 year and girls softball for over 4 years. I do this to help build a strong foundation for the youth in our community. I always give to local organizations and charity events. I am a proud family man, with a wonderful son and daughter in high school, and my ever supportive wife by my side.

Issue Number 1

Alan Bayne: Affordable housing. As we move to the future, we have to look at affordable housing not just for the homelessness but working citizens that are struggling to make ends meet.

Ralph Cipolla: My focus for the next term will be to continue to be waste reduction and ensure our roads and sidewalks are kept in good repair. I also plan to ensure transportation such as UBER can complement existing transportation infrastructure.

Gilles Depratto: If elected, I will bring extensive and demonstrated decision-making abilities to council. My communication and consultation skills will benefit the community. I have built positive relationships with many public safety stakeholders which will benefit and support Orillia’s public safety concerns for issues such as traffic and community initiatives including homelessness, mental health, and the opioid crisis

Harold Dougall: I want to get the roads and sidewalks fixed.. I also want improved snow removal.

Ian Gordon: City of Orillia infrastructure, roads, water and sewers. It is quite obvious to most who live in Orillia that our roads are falling apart faster than the city is keeping up with the repairs or replacements. We need to start investing more in road and infrastructure repairs before we start building any more fringe items. In addition, walking down the main street is a major hazard to handicapped people and it needs to be repaired sooner than later.

Brian Hare: These are the following are areas that need work in the city of Orillia. Building three lanes instead of four lanes (i.e., Front Street). The fourth lane could be used as a bike lane. There needs to be better signage for these three lane roads. As well, the city needs to look at traffic light pattern changes to deal with traffic back logs. (i.e., Front street again, when trying to turn right on to Mississaga St. from Front Street). If the city added a right-hand turn signal only it would prevent the traffic from backing up all the way to King Street. Building a fourth lane later doesn’t save money. Spending the correct amount of money now versus trying to save a little now would actually save Orillians time and money in the long run because there wouldn’t be ongoing construction projects for the same area every year.

Dael Morris: The major concern is uncontrolled growth and development and its catastrophic ramifications on the environment and the future in the face of climate change. In a push for growth 30 years in the future the provincial government has adopted high pressure tactics to do it all now, sanctioning developers juggernauting across the province without regard to the environment. Wetlands, forests, agricultural lands, surface and ground water resources, wildlife and the future are being systematically destroyed for the sake of short term gain. Orillia needs to put a pause to this catastrophic short term approach and, along with other municipalities, push back for intelligent growth plans that seriously attend to climate change, the environment and sustainability. Not only is the new unaffordable housing, with roads and highways and aggregate mining destructive to the environment and without regard to climate change, it has the added negative effect of aggravating the homeless crisis.

Robert Winacott: We do not have adequate and affordable resources, activities & entertainment here in Orillia. Our youth & seniors suffer the most from this. To build a strong community first we need to have a strong foundation. Our foundation starts from the youth up with more affordable resources such as mentoring, counselling, tutoring and activities. Our youth will find their passion, which will lead them down a stronger path for a successful future and stronger community. Let’s get our kids more involved, engaged and connected. This will create safer streets, a stronger community and less youth addictions. To save them later we need to make changes now.

Issue Number 2

Alan Bayne: Recruitment of more doctors and nurses to the city of Orillia. As the pandemic hit everyone hard and we see a shortage of nurses and doctors, we need a strong recruitment incentive to the city to entice future employment to the city. 

Ralph Cipolla: I would like to see a Mayor’s Task Force created to deal with the opioid crisis. We also need to have sustainable, safe growth while maintaining a strong voice to ensure taxes are kept at an affordable level.

Gilles Depratto: I am concerned with the community health crisis relating to the lack of community emergency room personnel, an open after-hours clinic for everyone, and the undersupply of family physicians for all residents.

Harold Dougall: We to help need small businesses and we need more jobs.

Ian Gordon: Planning for long term growth needs to be strategically planned to ensure our infrastructure, sewers and water are properly upgraded ahead of time. In addition we need to sit down with the surrounding townships to ensure that annexation of the lands is done in a proper manner so as not to hurt their tax base and the plans.

Brian Hare: The downtown is looking tired and to a lot of people feels unsafe. Downtown needs a face lift. The sidewalk stones need to be re-laid. Most Orillians do not realize that when the bricks were originally laid there were names carved on the bricks. Because they didn’t weather well they were turned over and re-laid. These were laid between Peter and West Street along Mississaga Street. Curbs and pavement are cracked, broken, and rutted and need to be replaced. If we want to continue to lure new businesses, tourists, and citizens to our city we need to take care of our downtown curb appeal to help us do that. I would like to see permanent police foot patrols to help create a safe environment for everyone. This would help make people feel safer. As well, a police presence downtown could help make citizens of Orillia make better choices.

Dael Morris: There is a rampant homeless crisis. Without rent controls people have been evicted from their homes by the score – cruel scenarios like paying $900, offering $1200, but evicted because the landlord wanted $3K. (The senior this happened to on Colborne St. whom I knew for years is gone.) The warming centre on Colborne as a band aid solution for the homeless is a start but not reliable – it opens after 9 p.m. and only when -15 degrees or colder. It’s not easy for people to work their way there in freezing conditions only to find it closed. The warming centre needs to be open regular hours so people not having access to the internet have some security in knowing it is there for them. We need a return to rent controls as a partial long term solution and if the province is unwilling then municipalities must do it.

Robert Winacott: Orillia’s population is growing and will continue to grow. Yet currently over 2000 residents are on a wait list for a family doctor. With more doctors retiring in the next year, this poses grave concern to many locals. Our ER staff is overworked and getting burnt out. We need to be attracting young physicians and more healthcare professionals to plant their roots here in this great City. Like I said before, you can’t build a community without a strong foundation, but you can’t even start a community without adequate healthcare. If elected, I would personally join forces with our local recruitment & retention committee.

SUNonline/Orillia Question Number 1

With regard to recent council decisions about Sweet Dreams Ice Cream and the Opera House story pole, along with other matters before council over the years, it looks like City administration sometimes puts information before council in line with what they’d like to see happen, even if that direction cannot stand up to scrutiny. The question is: Are you open to third options staff have not recommended when it becomes apparent all the information is not being presented to council?

Alan Bayne: Declined to comment.

Ralph Cipolla: Of course I would look at the options. But, one thing, Sweet Dreams turned it down themselves because it was going to be too expensive for them to meet the requirements. They had to bring in their own power. This was after staff went back to them. The big problem with the port is they have to run the refrigeration and everything else almost 24/7 and there wasn’t enough power in that area to do it because they are taking down the poles.

Gilles Depratto: In my previous career, as a detective inspector in the Criminal Investigation Branch of the OPP I needed to ensure I was well informed on the specific investigation prior to deciding and I would often turn to subject matter experts to educate myself. This is what I intend to do if I am successfully elected. Regarding Sweet Dreams; I need to educate myself prior to deciding and I require as many options as possible, even the ones that are deemed to be unfavourable, so I can personally decide the best course of action in my decision making as a councillor. In this specific case I would want to have a third option and I would require staff to provide me with several options. Regarding the story pole; in this instance, I believe that the subject matter expert (artist) should have been included in the discussion prior to the removal, however safety must always be a priority.

Harold Dougall: We have to look into the projects and talk about what we can do to help. It if seems to be obvious not all the information from staff is present council should be talking to the people affected.

Ian Gordon: I am not willing to go on the record regarding this question because I don’t know enough about it to speak to it.

Brian Hare: Yes, I am open to third options staff have not recommended. I am disappointed on the story pole because even though they say they talked to Jimi McKee they hadn’t. This could have been a simple fix if they had talked to him. How can a report have been generated without talking to him? Who missed the boat on that one? As for the Sweet Dreams issue – it seemed like a simple request to allow him to temporarily stay until the waterfront is done. Especially, since the requested locations were in an area he had been in for many other waterfront events. The people writing the reports shouldn’t be the ones to decide it is too much work to amend by-laws and policies that are actually outdated and need to be updated.

Dael Morris: Absolutely, I am open to listening to all options possible in council decision making, not only options viewed through the filter of city admin. City policy making and decision making is supposed to be an open, inclusive and aboveboard process and council members seeking information on options should not have to fear reprisals. One of the functions of city council is to provide oversight of city admin.

Robert Winacott: I am always open to a third option and sometimes even a forth. As a City councillor I would gather information from all sources to make the best decision for the City. 

SUNonline/Orillia Question Number 2

Council has had two initiatives on its agenda this term that could position the City nicely at the vanguard of the digital economy, especially in terms of job creation. With the existence of the OPP, Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital, Lakehead University and Georgian College – and a North/South and East/West communications hub located in Orillia it seems to make sense the Innovation Hub and developing a cyber security cluster are good projects to aggressively pursue. The question is: Would you be in favour of the municipality putting more resources toward those projects? Why?

Alan Bayne: Declined to comment.

Ralph Cipolla: Of course, it should be number one for every councillor because that’s going to bring jobs and make sure our community is safe.

Gilles Depratto: In my previous career, as a detective inspector in the Criminal Investigation Branch of the OPP, I understand the importance of security aspects, and most notably, recently, cyber security. We most definitely need to put as many protective measures as possible into place to ensure the privacy and security of our information. There are several examples of municipalities and government agencies that have experienced cyber breaches and the private information of the personnel and or clients have been compromised. I would definitely be in favour of putting more municipal resources to ensure that Orillia is at the forefront of digital innovation.

Harold Dougall: We should be involved with Lakehead, Georgian College the hospital and the OPP to be a more advanced, 21st century, digitally capable community. We should be working together.

Ian Gordon: I am not willing to go on the record regarding this question because I don’t know enough about it to speak to it.

Brian Hare: I support these initiatives 100 percent. Yes, I am willing to spend more money on this project to bring it to fruition. It is a great benefit to the City of Orillia to attract businesses and more importantly jobs. Generally, speaking when it is a tech company these are higher paying jobs which is something Orillia lacks. How are we supposed to keep our young people here if they can’t find jobs to allow them to afford to buy houses, have a family or save money? The list goes on.

Dael Morris: I am willing to examine the details and give support where needed, in principle. One other thing; access to the info highway is expensive. Canadians pay more than any other country for access to the internet. Why is that? Here, we have a local access point, apparently, and we should demand more affordable servicing across the board

Robert Winacott: I would be in support of the innovation hub and the cyber security as they both create jobs within the local economy. For cyber security, we have to stay on the leading edge. Criminals are getting smarter by the day and can now do more damage by just the click of a button. I strongly agree with the innovation hub, as the world evolves we need to evolve with it. We need to retain and attract these great minds and not lose them to major cities.

Like Leatherdale’s submission was delayed and will be added.

UPDATE: Ian Gordon’s response to the questions posed bu SUNonline/Orillia have been updated.

UPDATE: The set up questions for candidates was inadvertently omitted for the post and have been restored.

(Photos by Swartz – SUNonline/Orillia and Supplied)


Ward One Candidates

Ward Three Candidates

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