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Fallis vows to tackle climate and housing in bid for re-election

'What makes me unique is I'm not afraid to stand up for what I believe in, but also what people are wanting to see,' says incumbent Ward 3 councillor
Finishing up his first term in office, Ward 3 Coun. Jay Fallis said the most important issue to address moving forward is increasing Orillia's affordable housing supply.

OrilliaMatters will profile all the candidates seeking election in the Oct. 24 municipal election in Orillia.

As he nears the end of his first term in office, Coun. Jay Fallis is back on the campaign trail looking to secure another four years as a Ward 3 councillor.

The 32-year-old part-time Georgian College professor was born and raised in Orillia, attending Park Street Collegiate before going on to complete bachelor’s and master’s degrees in political science.

Aside from his work as a council member and an educator, Fallis has worked as a political aide both federally and provincially in the House of Commons and at Queen’s Park.

Fallis has also worked as a political columnist, with his work appearing in more than 30 news publications ranging from the Orillia Packet & Times to the Toronto Star, as well as publications as far away as Nunavut and Newfoundland and Labrador.

In his bid for re-election, Fallis said his distinguishing characteristic is that he is not afraid to stand up for what he believes in.

“What makes me unique is I'm not afraid to stand up for what I believe in, but also what people are wanting to see,” he told OrilliaMatters. “It doesn't matter whether council is fully in support of something, or I’m the only vote on something – I will take an issue and make sure that it is represented at the council table if I believe it's for the people that I represent.”

Over the course of the past term, Fallis said the two most important issues council made progress on were passing the city’s climate action plan and taking steps toward building affordable housing.

“One of our big accomplishments is moving toward net zero as a city institution by 2040, and then as a collective city by 2050. That's an ambitious target and it's really going to take a lot of incremental support, but I think it's certainly a huge step in the right direction," said Fallis.

“We need to incorporate environmental consciousness into every decision we make.”

While the city has taken steps toward building an affordable housing supply, Fallis said the issue requires much more work and is a priority of his moving forward.

“We did support a lot of initiatives,” Fallis said, noting planned and ongoing projects at the former ODVCI site, the Canada Post building, and Regent Park. “I think we could have invested a lot more time and energy into it.

“Canvassing the ward, already I've run into several people that were in the process of moving out because they didn't have enough to cover their rent.”

Fallis hopes to see an affordable housing coordinator approved and hired in the 2023 budget cycle, to add to the city’s affordable housing reserve fund to “incentivize more affordable housing,” to develop youth transitional housing, and to put more pressure on the county to “really take on more ambitious affordable housing targets.”

On top of climate change and affordable housing, some of Fallis’ other platform issues are implementing traffic calming measures in certain areas of the city, improving roads and sidewalks, as well as municipal services throughout the city, and bringing more doctors to the city – which he said is a very common issue he has heard on the campaign trail.

“I'm all for it, and doing whatever we can to make … this a welcoming place for doctors to come because there is a desperate need for doctors,” he said.

Looking back on his work as a councillor so far, Fallis said his proudest achievement is working with Coun. Pat Hehn and numerous community organizations to bring a wintertime warming centre to the Orillia Community Church.

“I actually was fortunate enough to volunteer for it last year a couple of times and got to talk with a lot of the individuals using it, and everyone was just so appreciative,” Fallis said. “There were situations I heard, where if they hadn't had that access to that building, they would have been out on the street in -20 weather and they could have died.

“It's something that I'm proud to say: we had an issue and have worked hard to address it, and I really hope to see that continue on.”

Fallis said a passion serving the community is his primary motivator to run for re-election.

“I’ve always been a proud Orillian and … I’m passionate about community service, and I always see it as a great way to give back to a community that I love,” he said. “That's why I ran the first time and why I'm running again.”

He said council needs to listen to the electorate.

“If I can pass on one thing to the next council, hopefully I'm there, is listen to the people and engage, and do what you can to hear what the issues are and and what people want to see.”

Mason Ainsworth is the other current Ward 3 councillor, but is running for mayor this time around. Other candidates in Ward 3 are Elizabeth Van Houtte, Zak Gariba, Devahl Brambhatt, Nick Wray and Jeff Czetwezruk. Click here to go to our municipal election page for other profiles and election-related news.

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Greg McGrath-Goudie

About the Author: Greg McGrath-Goudie

Greg has been with Village Media since 2021, where he has worked as an LJI reporter for CollingwoodToday, and now as a city hall/general assignment reporter for OrilliaMatters
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