Ward Four 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 Four candidates.

Janet-Lynne Durnford: Janet-Lynne is committed to working with other members of council, residents of Ward Four, and all citizens to ensure a bright future for the Sunshine City. She is a frequent volunteer, a former Farmer’s Market vendor, and has served on the boards of the Orillia and District Arts Council (secretary) and Mariposa Arts Theatre. She is a co-founder of Mosaic Productions, a theatre company that has raised over $50,000 for local women’s and children’s charities. As co-host of Rogers TV Arts Scene Orillia, she promoted our vibrant arts community. As a teacher (soon to retire), Janet-Lynne has practised the skills of leadership, clear communication, empathy, and teamwork. She was the union representative at her workplace for over 10 years. Janet-Lynne and her husband Max have raised two children in Orillia. She is a life-long learner who loves to garden, read, and spend time with family.

Paula Hill-Coulson: Paula was born and raised in Orillia’s north ward. Growing up working in the family business she learned the importance of grass-roots fiscal responsibility and the need to support the community. Paula’s track record as a volunteer, demonstrates her life-time commitment to giving back to the community she loves. She has been actively involved in the Rotary Club of Orillia since 2015. She currently sits on the Rotary Board of Directors, the Sustainable Orillia committee and the Aqua Theatre fundraising committee. She has demonstrated leadership skills and a creative flair for problem solving. During the pandemic Paula created the Rotary Take-out-Tuesday promotion/fundraiser. This event, which helped various restaurants stay open, was awarded the Chamber of Commerce Chris Bellchambers Achievement in Business Award. Paula has been honoured with numerous leadership awards, including 3 Rotary Theme Awards: 2016-2017 Rotary Serving Humanity, 2019-2020 Rotary Connects the World, and 2021-2022 Serving To  Change Lives. As a mother of two young adults, she is passionate about environmental issues for future generations, and recognizes the need for economic development and well-paying jobs. A well-planned revenue growth strategy would help support the inherent needs of Orillia’s population projection. Paula has been self-employed for much of her adult life and is currently an MTO licensed driving instructor. She is continually reminded of the importance of timely road and infrastructure maintenance, a growing demand for safety measures and accessibility issues on our streets and neighbourhoods.

Tim Lauer: I was born and raised in Orillia and spent the past 50 years working as an independent contractor. Currently I work in real estate. I became involved in municipal affairs in 1991, accepting an appointment to Orillia’s Committee of Adjustment. In 1997 I was elected to Orillia Municipal Council and served 4 terms concluding in 2010. Re-elected in 2014 I am currently serving my sixth term of Council. My partner is Rhonda Sunstrum who is an involved and active community member. We have raised two sons and now have three most entertaining grandchildren. I am a former member of Orillia’s Police Services Board, the DOMB, Orillia’s Trails for Life Committee, Big Brothers, Mariposa Folk Foundation and the former Richmond Resource Center. I have coached in the Orillia Minor Hockey system and the Legion Ball system. I have been a suspect player of sports all my life and thanks to some very forgiving teammates I am still active. These involvements helped me understand and appreciate what a successful organization or project looks like. I know what it takes to get from the good idea to the final product and I know how to work with all kinds of very different people to achieve a common goal. My personal involvement in the arts, sports, recreation, police services, social services, education and the environment have given me a keen awareness of how important all aspects of our community are to the overall health of the City. It has allowed me to interact with the people whose energy and creativity drive this City and to share a sense of responsibility with those same community-minded people that make a difference.

Kyle Peacock: I was born and raised in Orillia (Ward 4), I’m 39 years old and have worked and travelled all over the world but realized pretty quick that although there is some amazing places out there nothing can compare to the community and city of Orillia. When I wanted returned, I wanted to follow in my family’s footsteps and contribute to continuing to make Orillia stronger and better. I’m a supply chain leader, working with companies such as Wrigley and Nestle. My education is a 3 year diploma in international trade, 4 years hounours BA political science, post grad in global supply chain management. I decided to run for some very simple reasons, I have no further political aspirations but believe I can be a voice for Orillia with no other agenda other than what’s best for Orillia and specifically Ward 4. With that being said I will be donating my entire councillor yearly salary to – 25% to the Legion, 25% to the Couchiching Conservancy, 25% to Hillcrest Lodge, 25% to Green Haven Shelter for Women. I’d like to ask my fellow candidates to do the same for the betterment of Orillia.

Pat Reid: I was born in Orillia, and have lived in Orillia most of my life, and in Ward 4 for over 20 years. I have worked in Customer Service/Sales and for many years in Manufacturing. I have a lifelong musical interest, and currently compete with the Toronto Police Pipe Band, and teach and lead the Ontario Fire Service Band. I have travelled extensively with bands, competing at the World Championships several times, participating in the Rose Bowl Parade, Liberation of Holland ceremonies. Most importantly for me, I have helped countless folks mark significant moments in their lives with celebrations and memorials.

Joe Winacott: I have owned and operated Studabakers restaurant for past 14 years and lived in Orillia for almost 30 years. I took over 2 failing businesses, changed their course, and turned both into a success. I have strong family values and have 3 young children growing up in our beautiful city. I am community minded and invested in this city to make sure it’s a better place for our children to grow old in. I have been involved in numerous sports and clubs throughout the years, coached kid’s baseball for numerous years and sponsored and donated to many events, clubs, community events, charities. I am affiliated with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Orillia, the Orillia Lakers and numerous Charities & fundraisers. I am hard working, dependable, and informative and I Believe communication is the key to success.

Issue Number 1

Janet-Lynne Durnford: Sustainability is about thriving now and into the future, while preserving our lakes, waterways, shorelines, wetlands, tree canopy, and agricultural lands. my priorities are: Municipal Comprehensive Review; work with neighbouring municipalities and the province to find the balance between the need for boundary expansion to accommodate growth, and intensification, with least impact on surrounding wetlands and farmlands. Implement and build on Orillia’s Climate Future plan to ensure long-term sustainability, and reach net zero carbon emissions by 2040. Explore how Orillia can foster a circular economy, and live within the sweet spot of the doughnut model between human social needs and ecological limits. Revisit and revise pandemic and emergency response plans to ensure resilience in the face of future emergencies. Invest in infrastructure, particularly roads (highest economic multiplier to boost growth).

Paula Hill-Coulson: Infrastructure, maintenance and safety of our roads. As a licensed MTO driving instructor, I am on the roads all day and living up at the top end of Ward 4, I have to travel Laclie St. every day. I travel all our roads and see such a need for repairing and resurfacing of many and a need for getting pot holes filled, snow banks cut back, roads cleared in a timely manner, lines repainted and an immediate need for bike lanes for safety for all concerned – and more recharge stations for the growing number of electric vehicles in our city. I have also heard from many residents they would like to see more police presence on our roads and foot patrols in our parks and downtown and cycling on our trails and would be a great priority to me. I also know the need for traffic calming measures and perhaps photo radar in high speed areas. 

Tim Lauer: Responsible fiscal management, infrastructure improvement, annexation and housing will dominate the next 4 years but the two issues that will require immediate and decisive action are the opioid crisis and our Climate Action Plans. We are seeing a sea change on the streets of Orillia especially Ward 4. The issue is currently identified as homelessness but it is a problem much more complex. We are seeing the problems of substance abuse and mental illness spilling on to the Downtown streets and into surrounding neighbourhoods. Solving this problem is a tall order and one that the whole world is wrestling with. In my opinion we need a two-pronged approach – one is getting real help to those suffering on the streets and in encampments and two, an effective strategy that allow residents to feel safe in their neighbourhood. Not sure what the ultimate solution will be, but it’s not more talk.

Kyle Peacock: Livelihoods of Orillians, it’s not a secret that we are entering a financial downturn and it is going to be hard on people as we are coming out of COVID. If I’m lucky enough to be able to be your representative I’ll be making each decision thinking how does this decision effect my parents and their age group; how does it affect my age group and similarly also the youth of Orillia. Decisions aren’t made in a vacuum and that is what I believe I can bring that other candidates can’t in Ward 4 is the critical thinking. For example: if a park/playground is created on the side of a major street (great idea) but did anyone think about a cross walk or traffic calming measures? Lots of hidden costs that aren’t being identified.

Pat Reid: I decided to run for Ward 4 councillor because of quality of life issues that I share with my neighbours. There are issues that affect the everyday enjoyment of life and property. For years, we have asked for even a minimum of traffic calming on Matchedash St. North. , and have met with repeated resistance to doing anything. The evening I saw, in just the latest of many rejected requests, appeals from concerned residents on Nottawasaga St. get rejected, I decided things need to change. If the answer is always no, there’s a problem, and the answer always seems to be no. So, my neighbours across all parts of town are not having their concerns addressed, every neighbourhood with ‘slow down’ signs on lawns. 

Joe Winacott: There needs to be a direct line of communication between the constituents of Ward 4 and their elected official. I intend to bring that back. There needs to be an open-door policy where you feel comfortable to express your concerns. If elected to represent you I will personally come by for a visit, leave some info on how we can work together and create a user-friendly website which will keep you updated on the things that matter to you and to the city. To me communication is the key to success in anything we do in life. My goal is to be straight forward, to be your vessel, to relay your concerns, your ideas and what matters to you over to our council. In my 14 years in ward 4 not one councillor has stopped by, I couldn’t even tell you who it is. That needs to change, I will be here for YOU!

Issue Number 2

Janet-Lynne Durnford: I want to support the proposal for the creation of an Affordable Housing Coordinator; support an updated affordable housing plan; advocate for the creation of a dedicated youth emergency shelter; and support the creation of middle-income and affordable housing and particularly: work with developers to encourage innovative housing; advocate for the province to fund municipalities to accelerate the development of new housing supply; revisit zoning best practices to explore planning solutions that could include zero-lot-line housing, the community improvement plan, reduced parking minimums, tiny homes, laneway housing, flex housing, shared housing, and other types that reduce land costs and increase density; ensure the zoning by-law and planning processes reflect the requirement under Bill 108 to permit additional residential units (secondary suites) in single, semi-detached and row homes and in accessory buildings or structures, for a total of three residential units on a property; consider and implement as-of-right zoning (3 units, 3 storeys)  where feasible to facilitate missing middle housing. 

Paula Hill-Coulson: Economic growth by supporting local businesses, in turn reducing our carbon footprint and creating a 15 minute city. We need to be working with our local Chamber of Commerce to attract new businesses with higher paying jobs, especially in technology, so residents can make a living wage. We also need to be working with our local college and university to keep graduating students in Orillia and to partner with them to address environmental issues and sustainability as we further our economic growth and responsibly address our increasing population and housing for current and new residents. 

Tim Lauer: The climate is the other area we need to be thinking of in terms of urgency. Lots of jurisdictions have declared a climate change emergency and then settled for a 30 year runway to address that emergency. Something in that equation rings hollow to me. Again the time for talk is long past. As a corporation, what we need to do is straight forward. There are real savings to be had in an accelerated roll out of the corporate side of the Climate Action Plan and the new City Council will need to commit to an aggressive yet sensible strategy. As for the community side of the Climate Action Plan – that is a much more complicated issue and will require some real creativity. Finding the pressure points that could require stimulus, finding the pinch points that might need legislation and gaining buy-in from the public will require some very effective leadership.

Kyle Peacock: The biggest issue facing Orillia and Ward 4 is that the focus of the council hasn’t been evenly distributed – Ward 4 is the forgotten ward, lots of vacant stores and retail spaces. Infrastructure is behind the times and we need to reinvest in a once thriving ward.

Pat Reid: A primary focus of mine is a disappointment in responsiveness and communication from council and staff to a wide variety of citizen concerns. I contacted all of our current councillors about a private proposal presented to council, with a twist that it would incorporate municipal involvement, and naturally involve taxpayer investment. I expressed my sentiment that not a nickel of city money should go into the proposal. I received 2 responses (councillors Lauer and Fallis) with thoughtful consideration of my concerns, and 1 with a cursory response, devoid of content. Radio silence from the rest. This is unacceptable, and flies in the face of those claiming to be champions of accountability.

Joe Winacott: There have been some pretty terrifying incidences this summer down at the beach, on the trails or even our sidewalks near our homes. To name a couple in the last month, kids being followed, a mugging at the beach, street racing. These stories are happening far too often. We all need and should feel safe walking on the trails, at the waterfront, the downtown core or walking to the grocery store. We should feel confident that our children can play at the park, or walk to the store to get a treat without worrying for their safety in our neighbourhood. If elected, I will look into different programs, more lit pathways, community watch and emergency phone line. Road safety is also a big concern, Laclie Street road condition, slow down digital indicators, Stop signs at paths before intersects with roads. I will also come to you to get your ideas on how to make our community safer for everyone and working together to make our city a better place. Help me bring the community back to our community.

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?

Janet-Lynne Durnford: This question is based on the premise that administrative staff at City Hall are attempting to influence decisions by withholding key information from council. I do not have enough information to determine whether that premise is accurate, and therefore I am not in a position to comment. I do believe that communication between administrative staff and council members is essential to the function of Orillia’s democracy. If the city is to thrive, teamwork and transparency is necessary. I think the election of a new council presents an opportunity to rebuild the collaborative relationship between Orillia city staff and council.

Paula Hill-Coulson: Yes I am open to a 3rd option. As a councillor, I will ask many questions, get detailed information from staff and do my own research into matters. 

Tim Lauer: I believe there is an inherent tension between the politician and the public employee which is quite natural. City staff work to policy and directives from Council applying the science of their respective professions and as professionals they are loyal to their professional training. That is what they are paid to do. The Politician on the other hand is not a professional and in Orillia’s case answers to the 34000 or so residents they serve on a daily basis. The two perspectives don’t always jive. The awareness of this difference needs to be an inherent and continual part of every Councillors deliberation process. Information on any issue, from any source can be good quality, bad quality, comprehensive, narrow, leading, misleading, useful or useless. This is the challenge that faces every politician. It is a City councillor’s job to approach every issue with an open mind and with a respectful challenge to all they are being told.

Kyle Peacock: This whole situation which what I was speaking about earlier, each decision that is made has ramifications and if council had thought of these decisions before and had communicated with the owner. The fact that the owner is a small business owner that was heavily involved in the community especially in ward 4. This is the waste that I believe I can help eliminate (financial waste, time waste, atmosphere waste) 

Pat Reid: Staff’s role is to inform council, to provide their expertise/advice. They are not elected,. The councillors are the ones responsible for respecting the mandate they have been given by the voters. All issues should be considered with all available perspectives, and if staff’s recommendation is at odds with what the electorate wants, what the electorate wants is of prime importance. Councillors need to have the backbone, and wherewithal, to make the decision with those factors in mind.

Joe Winacott: I think the city handled both of those issues poorly and that’s why one of my main concerns is communication with the citizens of Orillia, ask our opinions, look at all options available. I feel they forget that they are elected to represent us, not to make their own quick decisions. Being a restaurant owner near the Sweet Dreams, they had an excuse that there was a bylaw it could not be so many feet to another establishment. When asked, basically when it was too late, I said of course I don’t mind them moving closer. They had made their minds up and nothing that was said would have changed that. There is always more options and I think they should have exhausted them. As for the story pole, I feel the same, they just jumped, made a quick decision and I think everyone that read that article after seeing what artist said just shook their head.

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?

Janet-Lynne Durnford: I am in favour of continued support, in principle, of both the Innovation Hub, and the cyber security project, pending more information. My understanding is that Orillia city council voted in March 2021 to contribute staff resources and $25 000 toward the cyber security research project, which was to be matched by grant money. Further financial support for a potential “cluster” of cyber security services will depend on the outcome and recommendations of that research. The aim of the Innovation Hub is to “increase… the economic viability of Orillia and the surrounding area through business growth as well as attraction,” by providing programming resources. The outcome of this consultation is also pending. These two initiatives have the potential to provide significant return on investment, and should be supported by council.

Paula Hill-Coulson:  I am absolutely in favour of Orillia moving forward in digital innovation. I feel working with our college and university is tapping  into our local assets and innovation and by putting more resources into digital innovation it will in turn create higher paying jobs for local residents.

Tim Lauer: The investigation of the potential Cyber- Security Hub is complete with staff reporting that it was not a viable objective at this time but recommending that the City stay engaged. The innovation Hub concept is on-going. What Orillia needs is focus, not funding. When Hydro One came to town, part of the sell was the opportunity for high paying technology spin offs. This idea dove-tailed nicely with the expensive Horne Business Park coming on line, and the presence of our post-secondary partners, Lakehead and Georgian. Important to note that the Horne Park represents the majority of the City’s remaining industrial lands. Since that time, lots in the business park have been sold to whoever was willing to pay the price. Very little attention was given to business type or the idea of industrial intensification. I will continue to prod my colleagues that patience and focus trumps panic when considering Economic development.

Kyle Peacock: I am in favour of this, as anything that creates Orillia as an industry leader where we have partners that are leading in their subject matters we should explore it as what is the cost beneficent of this endeavour.

Pat Reid: I will not presume to currently have anything but a peripheral knowledge of our ability to create a unique digital communications capability in Orillia with the significant potential partners outlined. We did have the foresight to take advantage of fibre optic infrastructure that sets the table for the possibility of capitalizing on those resources. No question, Hydro One and the OPP are leaders in security and digital interaction, so integrating their expertise with our educational talent pools would seem to make this an exciting possibility. We should start that dialogue and see where it could take us. 

Joe Winacott: Yes, I would be in favour of putting resources toward those projects, I am not 100% familiar with them at this time and if elected will do my due diligence to see exactly what the council has in place. We are being challenged and transformed by new technologies every day, redirecting ways we interact. We all want information faster and more efficient. We want to continue the practice of implementing modern digital technology to solve problems, improving experiences, new business models and education. Regardless of my for or against on any new ideas/policy my goal is to be vessel of information to my Ward 4 people, educate them on what’s happening and what their opinions are on the matter.

Ward One Candidates

Ward Two Candidates

Ward Three Candidates

(Photos Supplied)


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