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 former Dorr-Oliver-Long employee and lifelong Orillian is hoping to secure a Ward 2 council position in the upcoming municipal election.
Ian Gordon, 71, has lived in what is now known as Ward 2 for the past 55 years; it's where he raised two children with his wife.
Before retiring in 2014, Gordon spent over 30 years working for the mining equipment company (now FLSmidth), which saw him travel throughout North America as he transitioned through sales, project management, and director of field services positions, overseeing the installation of major projects across the continent.
Gordon’s formal political experience is limited to a run for a council position in the 1980s, and his current seat on the city’s recreation advisory committee, but he has been involved with community and charity organizations throughout his life.
Some of his community involvement includes serving as co-chairman of Orillia Legion Minor Baseball in the 1990s, coaching hockey, volunteering at Twin Lakes Secondary School fundraisers, and regularly volunteering with Princess Margaret’s Ride to Conquer Cancer.
One of the reasons Gordon has decided to run for council is to bring the change he would like to see in Orillia.
“I believe the original words come from Mahatma Gandhi, (who) says ‘be the change," Gordon told OrilliaMatters. “Instead of me sitting on the outside, barking at people and pushing different people to do (things) – you be the change; you get inside city hall, do your best to get in there and be the change.”
He knows it won't be easy.
“I'm only going to be one of eight people, but if I can't help steer in the right direction, then I'm going to make my voice well known so that people understand, hey, this is the way I see it,” he said.
Gordon expressed frustration with a number of issues in Orillia, including the poor condition of Laclie Street and said one of his priorities will be to represent and remain as accessible as possible to his constituents in Ward 2.
“I want to make sure that the ward is well represented, and represented by a person that will listen to them and talk to them,” he said.
The top three issues Orillia needs to deal with right away, Gordon said, are fixing Laclie Street, working with Orillia’s neighbours to come up with a sensible plan for boundary expansion, and maintaining fiscal responsibility.
Overall, Gordon said fiscal responsibility is his key desire for city council.
“The bottom line is fiscal responsibility, ensuring that we get along with our neighbours when we're gonna have to expand, and then let's slow growth down a little bit and fix our infrastructure first, before we get rip roaring and go on,” he said.
“The downtown main street’s in sad shape; the sidewalks are terrible,” he said. “We need some people in there that are going to watch … where the money's got to be spent and how to control that spending.”
Gordon also viewed affordable housing and addiction issues as problems that need to be addressed, but said those are issues that will require assistance from upper levels of government.
“That can't just be handled by the City of Orillia council – that's got to be handled by a bigger group of people,” he said.
Concerning boundary expansion, Gordon made note of the issues with urban sprawl, citing West Ridge as an example, but was also concerned about the amount of vacant land within the city for intensification.
“The streets out there are so narrow; you can't have a vehicle parked on either side of the street that the firetruck can barely get down,” he said.
Because Orillia has been mandated to grow, Gordon views boundary expansion as something that will have to take place in a responsible manner.
“We’ve got to expand to 50,000 people, which (adds), let's say, 16,000 more than we are now. Is the plant down on the end of West Street big enough to handle (it)? I don't think so,” he said. “There's got to be a working committee put together of the City of Orillia people and the surrounding townships to figure it all out.”
Ralph Cipolla and Rob Kloostra are the current Ward 2 councillors. Cipolla, Gordon, Alan Bayne, Luke Leatherdale, and Harold Dougall are the official candidates for Ward 2 to date. Kloostra is not seeking re-election.