A life-long career in policing and knowing a lot about people’s past mistakes has left former detachment commander and mayoral candidate John Trude with a strong desire to look ahead instead of behind.
An urge, he thinks, will be important for not only the next mayor and council but also the people who call Collingwood home.
“There’s been a lot of strategic study going on, but there hasn’t been a lot of action study. We have to act on some of these recommendations and proposals … it’s one of those things that has to be done,” said Trude, describing the concept of paralysis by perfection. “You never are going to be in a perfect position to move forward, but you have to start moving.”
Trude said the key to moving forward is knowing your starting point, and not looking back from there.
“You come into the game at this point,” said Trude. “There were decisions and actions taken prior to that you didn’t have control over. It doesn’t matter how we got here, we’re here so we have to go forward from there.”
Trude referenced matters including the Collingwood hospital redevelopment plan and the judicial review as examples of things on which to move forward.
“Divisiveness isn’t going to solve anything,” said Trude. “We are where we are … whatever it is we have to do to get this moving and get it done, that’s what we have to do.”
He added the judicial review to the list of past decisions a new council can’t un-make.
“It’s happening right now and it is what it is,” said Trude. “I will assume there will be some recommendations … and I think it will behoove the next council to review those recommendations and any that haven’t already been dealt with should be acted upon. You’re paying for it, you might as well use it.”
Trude was a police officer for 41 years. He met his wife, Jan, in Peterborough and returned with her to her hometown of Collingwood in 1983. He worked in Thornbury first, then was stationed out of Collingwood. He was detachment commander from 2004 until his retirement in 2016. Trude and Jan own the Tim Hortons restaurants in Collingwood and one in Wasaga Beach.
Trude has lived in Collingwood most of his life, but he and Jan now currently live in The Blue Mountains in a house they had built. He still considers Collingwood his home.
“All of our social life, all our business, and many, many of our friends live in Collingwood,” he said. “My career was predominately working with and for the people of this town.”
Now that Trude is retired, and allowed to have more public opinions about local politics, he said he’s still got the energy, desire and time to do the job of mayor.
“There’s so many dreams I have for Collingwood,” said Trude. “The greatest thing that we have is the people and the sense of community. For people who have been here for generations and for many of the newer people who are coming here, what brought them to Collingwood is what made it so endearing to the people who live here: the dedication to the community, the natural beauty that we have, the historic downtown, the waterfront. There’s just not a whole lot not to like about Collingwood.”
However, Collingwood’s appeal is no secret and as the population – both residential and commercial – grows, the town faces new challenges, leaving the mayor and council with more and more planning decisions to make.
“It’s a delicate balancing act to continue to develop, because we do have to develop,” said Trude. “In order to continue to provide those services and enhance the services we have, need and want, you have to rely on growth to do that without increasing the tax burden on the people already here. That’s just a necessary evil. That’s what we have to do. But we have to do that development in a matter that maintains the small town feel. No matter how big you get, the small town is what brought people here.
“The responsibility of council is to ensure that everybody is heard equally and that any decisions that are made are made in the best interests of the whole town of Collingwood. If your decisions are the right decision, made in the right spirit for the right reasons and they are articulated as to why your decision was made, even people who disagree with it have the opportunity to say, ‘I see why that decision was made.’”
According to Trude, those right decisions can only be made when there’s a common goal.
“It’s always easier to head to where your destination is if you really know where it is, and that’s a moving target” said Trude. “We have to arrive at an agreeable consensus direction on where we’re heading. There doesn’t seem to be any focus to where we’re going.”
He sees an asset in the harbour and waterfront and hopes the town can capitalize on that asset to draw people there and make them aware of the natural setting. He suggested the waterfront is currently under-utilized. He would also like to see more efforts to build affordable and attainable housing in town, but he doesn’t expect the town to do that on its own.
Trude would like to see more regional collaboration between neighbouring municipalities such as the partnership between Clearview, Wasaga Beach, Collingwood and Blue Mountains for a regional transit link.
“Whether we like it or not, this area is becoming a region as opposed to an individual municipality,” said Trude. “So while the traits that are unique to collingwood will remain and should remain, there are other areas where we have to work cooperatively with our neighbours to say ok, what’s good for Clearview, can be good for Wasaga, can be good for Blue Mountains, can be good for Collingwood.”
Trude said he has developed a collaborative and consensus-driven leadership style over his career that would work well when pursuing regional partnerships.
“The most important job as mayor is setting an example of leadership that other people can follow and being the strongest advocate possible for the town of Collingwood,” said Trude.
“You’re the spokesperson for the municipality and it should be positive, and it should be uplifting, and it should be strong.”
Trude is running against Michael Blair, and current deputy mayor, Brian Saunderson, for mayor. Watch CollingwoodToday for profiles of Saunderson and Blair.
The Collingwood Chamber of Commerce is hosting a meet the candidates event for the mayor and deputy mayor candidates on Sept. 12 at 7 p.m. (doors at 6 p.m.) at the Royal Canadian Legion.
The chamber will be posing questions received by members of the public to each of the candidates during the meeting.