Collingwood Mayor Brian Saunderson stopped by the strategic initiatives standing committee meeting on Monday night to officially hang up his chain of office.
“It’s nice to be back, even if it is to say goodbye,” said Saunderson.
On June 2, Saunderson was elected as Progressive Conservative MPP for Simcoe-Grey with 51.2% of the votes cast (27,060 votes). He's been mayor since 2018 and was Collingwood's deputy mayor from 2014-2018.
“I’m here tonight to resign as your mayor. I want to thank the residents of Collingwood for their confidence and support over the past eight years, and more importantly the past four years and in particular during the pandemic,” said Saunderson, also thanking staff and council.
“Thank you all for the support. We’ve worked together through some difficult times over the past four years and I think we’ve shown what collective will can do to overcome obstacles,” he said.
“I know you will continue to do great things until the election and I wish all of you the best who are seeking election.”
Saunderson pointed to the active democracy in Collingwood, calling it an “absolute tribute” to involved residents.
Councillors took turns saying farewells.
“We look forward to twisting your arm in the near future,” said Coun. Yvonne Hamlin with a laugh.
Coun. Kathy Jeffery spoke to Saunderson’s leadership at the table.
“It was leadership and initiatives, and really caring about the community that made the most for us around the table. Thank you for all of that,” said Jeffery.
“We have tackled some big files and made some very tough decisions and it’s been great to have you in the leadership role as we did that,” said Coun. Deb Doherty.
Coun. Steve Berman reminisced about the years he’s spent following Saunderson’s political journey.
“It’s been an interesting ride. Thank you,” said Berman.
Coun. Bob Madigan thanked Saunderson for his friendship.
“We met many years ago under different circumstances, and I appreciate everything,” said Madigan.
“I know you’re going to bring dignity, diligence, dedication and dad jokes to Queen’s Park and I look forward to hearing all of that,” said Acting Deputy Mayor Mariane McLeod.
Acting Mayor Keith Hull extended thanks to Saunderson’s family.
“It’s not easy to be a public figure. It’s not easy to face some of the challenges within a community that is growing at the pace we are,” said Hull. “You showed up. We don’t celebrate that enough.”
“You have been a stalwart, a champion and an ambassador for this community,” he said.
At the end of May, council approved a succession plan for if Saunderson was elected MPP. The plan approved will see the mayor’s seat declared vacant as of July 26, at which time Acting Mayor Keith Hull and Acting Deputy Mayor Mariane McLeod will officially step into those roles.
Because council is waiting until July 26 to declare the mayor’s seat officially vacant, it won’t be necessary to fill the leftover council seat prior to the municipal election, which takes place Oct. 24.