Collingwood's town council, elected in 2018, is entering the final year of its four-year mandate. The next municipal election, slated for Oct. 24, 2022, is less than one year away.
With that in mind, we canvassed Mayor Brian Saunderson, Deputy Mayor Keith Hull and all seven town councillors to answer six key questions heading into the home stretch of their tenure. Questions range from asking about their greatest accomplishments, their regrets, their legacy and if they plan to seek re-election. They were given a limit of 150-words per response. Their responses will be published, verbatim, over the next six days.
Coun. Steve Berman, Coun. Bob Madigan and Mayor Brian Saunderson declined to participate.
"For the first time in my term as mayor, I am declining to answer questions from the media. I think the timing and nature of the questions are unfortunate. They are inviting councillors to campaign for an election that is many months away at a time when there remains months of work ahead for this council," said Saunderson.
What do you think is this council's biggest accomplishment this year?
Deputy Mayor Keith Hull
“The final chapters have yet to be written but I think the single biggest achievement of this calendar year was the establishment of the Affordable Housing Task Force. One, it was an acknowledgement by council that Collingwood and the region is experiencing a housing crisis. Two, it has brought together an incredible team of volunteers (including three members of council and staff resources) to create a framework for council’s consideration. The members of the task force have collectively worked for six months and I believe their findings (to be presented Nov. 1, 2021) will establish a solid foundation and blueprint for council and staff with the support of the community to move forward in tackling this issue head on.”
Coun. Tina Comi
“What really matters is what our taxpayers think their council’s biggest accomplishment of the year is. If our residents can’t clearly articulate what their council has done for them we have our answer as to how effective their local governance has been.”
Coun. Deb Doherty
“In my view, council's biggest accomplishment has been the Official Plan review. One of the primary themes of the 2018 election was the community's desire for a growth management strategy that reflects our collective aspiration to maintain a small-town quality of life in the face of provincial pressure for growth and intensification and unprecedented market demand. The Official Plan review that resulted has been one of the most thorough and multi-faceted examinations of where we are and where we want to go as a community, perhaps since the Community Based Strategic Plan of 2015, with levels of engagement not seen since that time. I look forward to the release of the first draft, and the subsequent public review, with great anticipation.”
Coun. Yvonne Hamlin
“With the Judicial Inquiry in the rear-view mirror, I am proud of our work this year to make the daily life of our residents better. From implementing a safe streets program to allow for traffic calming measures; to the striking of an Affordable Housing Task Force; to working on solutions to increase the number of family doctors in town; to creating an amazing play area at Sunset Point (zipline included) and a significant water-play project at Harbourview Park for kids of all ages; to the recent hiring of a Climate Action Specialist; to a pilot project to encourage safe cycling routes; and the building of washrooms at Fisher Field to the relief of the many. As well, my motion against hate symbols led to lobbying by others (FCM) this year to change federal hate laws. We are working hard to leave Collingwood better than when we started.”
Coun. Kathy Jeffery
Did not submit a response to this question.
Coun. Mariane McLeod
“Thanks for the opportunity to review 23 pages of votes taken since January! We are doing hard and time-consuming work to bring back trust by implementing the governance and accountability recommendations from the Judicial Inquiry. It is vitally important the Affordable Housing Task Force comes up with concrete plans to help with the current crisis. We prevented another summer of difficulties at Sunset Point with reasonable rules to accommodate visitors and locals. I’m ecstatic with the rainbow crosswalk, and that Collingwood’s hate symbols resolution was supported by more than 2,000 Canadian municipalities. The town helped the hockey league change its name and symbols to be more inclusive, and we are honouring a town manager whose death on the job is possibly connected to systemic racism.
These actions show we are moving forward, and while progress is too slow for some and too fast for others, it is happening.”