Collingwood Mayor Brian Saunderson is throwing his hat in the ring to run under the Progressive Conservative banner in the next provincial election.
“I have been mulling it over and speaking with family and colleagues. After a lot of consideration I decided it was a great opportunity to go and represent this great riding and region at Queen’s Park,” said Saunderson. “I have very much enjoyed serving the residents of Collingwood and Simcoe County since 2014.”
Saunderson says his desire to run was piqued when current MPP Jim Wilson announced he would not be running for another term. Wilson has served as MPP for the area since he was first elected to the Ontario legislature in 1990 for the former Simcoe-West riding.
Saunderson moved to Collingwood in 2001 with his wife and three sons. He served as a board member for E3 Community Services for 12 years, and has volunteered with the Collingwood Dragon Boat and Canoe Club, which he helped found in 2003.
He served as deputy mayor of Collingwood from 2014-2018, and has served as mayor since 2018. He was a lawyer for 22 years before stepping down from his practice in January 2019.
“It feels, to me, like somewhat of a natural evolution,” he said.
There are a few major issues facing the region that Saunderson would like to address at the provincial level, including economic COVID-19 recovery.
“Certainly what I’ve seen during my time in municipal politics, is the growth issues surrounding sustainability,” he said. “I will be a voice at Queen’s Park to talk about sustainability, be it economic, environmental or social.”
He said he will also take the baton from Wilson in advocating for the Collingwood General and Marine Hospital redevelopment application.
“With the pandemic, the limitations of our hospital have been a big pinch point. We have incredible health care providers, but that hospital is past its due date and they’re having similar issues down in Alliston at Stevenson Memorial. Hospital development will be a big part of my role,” said Saunderson.
“The province has to understand that if they’re going to identify our region as a growth node, that they need to provide us with the infrastructure including hospitals,” he said.
Saunderson said his experience as mayor and County of Simcoe councillor has seen him work with the provincial government on many files over the years, which gives him insight that would be helpful.
“I’m a fiscal conservative and we’ve seen great progress in Collingwood over the last six years in debt reduction,” he said. “Coming out of the COVID crisis I think we’re going to need a lot of strong economic policies to revitalize our economy and get our debt under control.”
Should Saunderson receive the nomination, he said he would not be stepping back from his duties as mayor of Collingwood unless he were to be successful and elected in 2022.
“I’d be required to step down once an election has occurred if I am successful. Throughout this, my number one job will continue to be at town hall,” he said.
For more on Saunderson, click here.
Stella Ambler, a former Mississauga-South Conservative Member of Parliament who has recently moved to Wasaga Beach, also announced her intention to seek the Simcoe-Grey PC nomination back in November. Click here to view her website.
A specific date for the local nomination meeting has not yet been set, however Saunderson said the riding association is planning to have it done by the beginning of April.
The next provincial election is slated for June 2, 2022.