One of Collingwood’s deputy mayor candidates hopes to build on a career in municipal politics started the last term of council.
Keith Hull served as a councillor from 2010 to 2014, and is now running for deputy mayor in the October municipal election.
“I grew up with a father who was an alderman within the city of Waterloo and was exposed to politics at a very young age,” said Hull. “I have always enjoyed politics. I just found it very interesting in terms of how politics shape our daily lives and I’ve always wanted to be part of that … It’s something that’s been driven into me since I was quite young.”
Hull moved to Collingwood in 1996 and worked at Blue Mountain resort selling Real Estate for Intrawest. He has continued with a career in Real Estate and is currently a broker selling full time with Chestnut Park Real Estate Ltd. Brokerage. Hull initially submitted nomination papers to run for councillor in 2014, but took his name out of the running due to family pressures. He and his wife at the time were going through a struggle and eventually separated.
Hull said he and many others came to Collingwood for its natural features and sense of community.
“I’m no different from a lot of people who have chosen to move here or people who have decided to stay here,” he said. “We chose to live here because of our close proximity to the escarpment, the mountain, to Georgian Bay, to the vibrant arts and cultural community that we’ve got here, and the fact that we see an entrepreneurial community that is beginning to thrive and take off. And those are all things that make us unique and special, and will help to differentiate us versus many other small communities across Ontario. And those are things that we need to celebrate and we need to protect.”
He hopes to be elected for deputy mayor, where he feels best ready to serve the community and support the next mayor. He said he would like to sit at the Simcoe County council table and learn more about that level of government. Mayors and deputy mayors from each of the county’s member municipalities serve on county council.
Hull said there are “a lot of really good people” running for various positions on Collingwood council, but there’s one thing that will set apart candidates.
“The reality is, somebody does have to have strong values and a strong vision, I think I’ve got both, but at the end of the day, when you’re choosing people to represent you, you need people who actually can make a decision,” said Hull. “Those who can look people in the eye and say, ‘you know what? At the end of the day when I make this decision there’s going to be part of the community who isn’t happy, there’s going to be part of the community that doesn’t care, and there’s going to be part of the community that is pleased with what I’ve done.’”
Hull referred to his term on council and his experience campaigning in 2010. At that time, the issues he heard most about while canvassing were the Admiral Collingwood site and downtown patios. He said both those issues were dealt with early in council’s first year.
“Then we faced issues like 50 per cent Collus sale, the possible location of a casino and the whole issue of a multi-use facility turning into the purchase of the two sprung structures,” he said, adding none of those came up during canvassing in 2010. “There are certain overarching issues that will carry forward [such as] moving forward with the waterfront master plan, moving forward with parks, recreation, and culture master plan, addressing the long-term use of the terminals site. The reality is in the next four years there’s going to be an issue or issues that are going to come completely out of left field. And that’s when you need to know that you’ve voted for people who can look at all the information that’s provided, ask intelligent tough questions and at the end of the day make a decision.”
Hull said he is proud of his decision to oppose the Sprung structure deal for the fabric membrane buildings at the Central Park Arena and Centennial Aquatic Centre.
“I looked and said, ‘You know what? When I look at all the information, this does not make sense for the long-term interests of the community as a whole,” said Hull. “I firmly believe based on information that’s come out in the last couple months the decision I’ve stood by for years was justified.”
Going forward, Hull would like to see more groundwork done toward a multi-use recreation facility and he would like council to take a look at the long-term use of the terminal site, whether that includes the terminals or something different.
Hull referred to the previous four budgets put forward by the current council as “palatable” and gave kudos to council and staff for the state of Collingwood’s finances.
He said the next term of council has a “unique” opportunity due to the recent sale of Collus and the Collingwood Regional Airport. He said council will have to set a priority for what to do with the money and where it would best be spent.
“So based on that, I think it’s important that the next council continue to move those things forward,” said Hull. “To take the goal post, move it down a little further, to keep moving forward. And not allow the politics of the day to deviate or take a left turn from some really good policies and plans that have been put in place from that respect.”
As a deputy mayor, Hull said he would make it his priority to listen and ask relevant questions. He said he would like to work to ensure the process council follows is open and transparent.
“I’m a decision maker, but I’m not an expert,” said Hull. “I think I have the ability to rely on the expertise of our staff, consultants, lawyers, etc. If someone feels they are in a position where they are the expert, they are setting themselves up to fail as a leader.”
When it comes to decision making as a part of council, according to Hull, there are moments when the team has to agree to disagree.
“I think, for the most part, when information is provided to you, and you can look at all of the information, you may agree to disagree because you have a fundamental philosophy difference ... but you agree that in the best interest of this community you’ve got to come to some sense of consensus.”
Hull is running against Ian Chadwick for deputy mayor. Watch CollingwoodToday for a profile of Chadwick.
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. There will be a separate event for councillor candidates also hosted by the chamber on Sept. 25 at 7 p.m. at the Collingwood Legion.
The chamber will be posing questions received by members of the public to each of the candidates during the meeting. Click here if you have a question you’d like included.