OrilliaMatters will profile all the candidates seeking election in Orillia in the Oct. 24 municipal election.
Lifelong resident and Order of Orillia recipient Brian Hare is hoping to secure a Ward 2 council position in the upcoming municipal election.
Hare, 65, has lived in Orillia for the past 53 years and has worked in a variety of fields over the course of his life.
He currently owns and operates Orillia First Aid, and previously worked in manufacturing at the Alliston Honda plant and as a residential counsellor at the Huronia Regional Centre.
Although he lacks formal political experience, Hare has been deeply involved in the community over the years.
He currently volunteers with The Lighthouse, the Orillia Santa Claus Parade, and the Mariposa Arts Theatre Foundation, and has previously done volunteer work with Scouts Canada, The Park Street Players, and the Mariposa Arts Theatre Foundation.
For his contributions to the community, Hare was awarded the Order of Orillia in 2017.
He chose to run in this year’s election to try his hand at addressing a wide range of issues he sees in the city.
“I've always said I'd run for council. There are things I see done, and I shake my head and go, ‘why?’” Hare told OrilliaMatters. “I feel like downtown Orillia is a prime example. It hasn't been touched since the 90s: the curbs are busted, there's nine different types of brick in the sidewalk. It's like walking the seven seas because it's always waving.”
Some of the key issues he would like to address include traffic issues, ranging from speeding, road design, and traffic pattern changes, homelessness, the affordable housing crisis, and bringing industry and jobs to the city.
“When was the last time you saw a radar trap? In Orillia you can drive any speed you want,” he said. “I have a better chance of being elected Prime Minister of Canada than being caught for speeding.
“I myself would be quite happy to bring back photo radar," he said.
Hare recalled the days when Orillia had a vibrant manufacturing industry, and hopes to encourage industry to come to the city to provide good paying jobs to residents.
“We need something to keep our young people here,” he said. “I drove for 23 years to Allison and back. Why? Because I couldn't find a job in Orillia that paid anywhere near what I made at Honda with the benefit package, etc., and you can't survive here in Orillia on a minimum wage.”
Along those lines, Hare pointed out there are few regional travel options to and from Orillia.
“We have no infrastructure. We have no bus to get from here to the Go Station in Barrie for anyone who wants to do that,” he said. “If you want to live in Orillia but need to go to Toronto, then we need some sort of bus system to get us from here to the GO train station.”
He also noted the high cost of renting in Orillia, and hopes to work with upper levels of government to address the situation.
“Rents in Orillia are outrageous. As a council there's really nothing we can do about it – that's a provincial matter – but we should be able to lean on the province and say, ‘OK, do something,’” Hare said.Hare expressed frustration with the lack of parking options with new developments, as well.
“Over the post office, they want to put all this housing in. Part of it is supportive housing, part of it's going to be market rent, but they only have three parking spots,” he said. “These market rent houses, people are going to have vehicles (and) they're going to have to park them somewhere.”
Another idea Hare would like to bring to council table is building a toboggan hill on the Orillia Recreation Centre property.
“One of these days somebody's going to buy (Couchiching Golf and Country Club) and turn it into housing,” he said. “We have the facility there. We have washrooms there. We have warming centres there. Everything's there. Why can't we put it toboggan hill in?”
Ralph Cipolla and Rob Kloostra are the current Ward 2 councillors. Cipolla is seeking re-election, while Kloostra opted to run in Ward 1. Other candidates in Ward 2 include Alan Bayne, Gilles Depratto, Harold Dougall, Ian Gordon, Luke Leatherdale, Dael Morris and Robert Winacott.