Rob Winacott, the brother of Ward 4 candidate Joe Winacott, has entered the race to become a Ward 2 city councillor.
The 46-year-old Oshawa native grew up spending summers on Lake Simcoe at his family cottage. In 2005, Winacott and his wife, Amy, moved to Orillia to start their family and open their business, Autoflex Sales & Leasing.
“It was a big leap of faith,” he said. “It was the best decision we could have made.”
Winacott, who lives in Ward 2, is stepping into the political ring for the first time, though he says running a business is a lot like politics.
“You have to be a face in the community,” he said. “You have to make sure you take care of people, and you have to have excellent customer service skills.”
Over the years, Winacott says, he has gained experience in leadership, problem solving, negotiating, and budgeting. He feels he can apply those skills to make a difference in the community.
“I want to make Orillia and Ward 2 a united and safe community,” he said. “I want to go back to the days when community watch was actually a thing and people would band together to actually watch out for their neighbours and help each other in times of need.”
He says mental health issues, addictions, and people suffering from violence locally need to be addressed.
“People experiencing these difficult times have blinders on and don’t realize how important they are and how loved they are,” he said. “We as a community can come together as a whole to offer them help and, hopefully, have adequate resources in the community to help them.”
Winacott has been a sponsor and coach for hardball and softball teams in Orillia for 11 years. The experience has made him realize the importance of mentoring the next generation.
“It’s about bringing kids to be social, working as a team, and making sure they get the respect and attention they deserve,” he said. “Sometimes it just takes one person to make a big impact or difference in someone’s life, and I strive to be that person daily.”
The father of two says Orillia lacks resources and affordable entertainment for youth, and he would like to help create more affordable programs and activities.
“I want to help guide our youth down the right path,” he said. “I’ve been coaching these kids for a lot of years and there are a lot more people who would play if we could find more affordable programs for them.”
In the next four years, Winacott hopes to see more sporting facilities in town, and safer streets.
“We are on the right path,” he said. “We just need to keep going and keep adding to it.”
He believes the current council has done a fantastic job, but it’s time for a change.
“People get burnt out and sometimes new blood has to come in,” he said. “New ideas and different approaches could be found to be successful.”
Winacott looks forward to meeting more people over the next few weeks when he goes knocking on doors. He is also planning to hold community barbecues in each neighbourhood.
“Bring your whole family to meet me and my family,” he said.
Details about the barbecues will be made available on Winacott’s Facebook page.