OrilliaMatters will profile all the candidates seeking election in the Oct. 24 municipal election. Prospective candidates have until Aug. 19 to submit their nomination papers.
A local restaurateur and lifelong Orillian has set his sights on a Ward 2 council position in the upcoming municipal election.
Alan Bayne, 56, has spent his entire life in the city, and he has worked in hospitality throughout his professional career.
Following his first job – which happened to be for current Ward 2 councillor, Ralph Cipolla – Bayne worked in various hotels and restaurants in the Orillia area, including Casino Rama and Fern Resort, before opening Friend’s Diner in 2009.
He said a big motivator for getting into municipal politics is his father, Bruce Bayne, who worked for the city “from the 60s to the mid-80s,” and served as the city’s CAO.
“I want to give back to the city like he did. He was one that really put his foot forward and made the city good,” Bayne told OrilliaMatters. “One of the accolades that he has is the waterfront that is there right now, was his kind of pet project. (I’m) born and raised in the city, and I love the city, never ventured away, and it's just part of who I am, is Orillia.”
Bayne’s biggest hope as a prospective councillor is to get more affordable housing in the area.
“(My) biggest hope would be to have more affordable housing,” he said. “There's two ways to go about it: you can go up, or you can go out, and whatever is the most beneficial for the city and the surrounding communities is the way the city should go.”
He also views local transportation – such as ridesharing programs like Uber – and recruiting more medical professionals to the city as key issues he would like to work on.
“The transportation needs in the city are huge, and we need some extra transportation, like rideshares, and (get) them back into the city,” he said.
“Now that we are going to get a new council in there, maybe we can change the minds of others, or have some new faces and new mindsets that can get this thing going again," Bayne explained.
“Doctors and nurses are another big thing right now, to get more involvement to get them recruited,” he said.
Bayne also added that he would like to see ice cream trucks back in the city. City council recently decided to maintain a ban on the mobile trucks, citing safety issues and an uneven playing field as bricks-and-mortar businesses face many more costs to operate.
His decision to get involved in municipal politics partially stems from his decision to sell Friend’s Diner in January.
Although he still works there “as much as they need me” due to staffing shortages, he said the additional time he’s freed up gave him the opportunity to pursue a council position.
“The sale of the restaurant this January has allowed me to open up that door to have some time to put into the city,” he said. “It's something that my wife and I have talked about over the last couple of years; it's something that I've always wanted to do to put back into the community and help out.”
Bayne is confident the skills he’s gained in hospitality will transfer well to council.
“In a restaurant, you're in the public eye (with) customer service–that in turn can turn around to a council member where you are, again, in the public eye, and you're helping out the community wherever you can,” he said. “It's hand in hand–it's going to be an easy transition, I hope.”
Although lacking in formal political experience, Bayne has already worked to make contributions to the community through his career.
During the pandemic, his restaurant partnered with the Rotary Club for “Takeout Tuesday,” where five dollars from each meal was donated to the Rotary Club.
“We were closed, basically, and we'd open up for Tuesday night, and we'd serve a dinner,” he said. “For every meal that we sold during the pandemic, being closed, $5 would go to Rotary. Over the course of two or three months, we raised $3,000.”
Though he hopes a fresh council can tackle lingering issues, like ridesharing programs, he commends the current council for the work they did in the pandemic, and hopes that council can get back to in-person meetings following the election.
“The current council really has done a fantastic job specifically over the last two years – who knew that they'd have to run a city virtually … in a pandemic,” he said. “That's the hardest thing that I could ever imagine.”
Ralph Cipolla and Rob Kloostra are the current Ward 2 councillors. Cipolla, Bayne, Luke Leatherdale, and Ian Gordon are the official candidates for Ward 2 to date. The deadline to enter the race is Aug. 19.