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.
Lifelong Orillian and jack-of-all-trades Pat Reid is hoping to win a Ward 4 council seat in the upcoming municipal election.
A graduate of York University’s political science program, Reid has spent his working life across marketing, customer service/sales, and manufacturing jobs.
He currently works as a bagpipe teacher, an instrument he has played for 47 years through a variety of organizations, including the Air Force, the OPP, the Toronto Police, and local Orillia bands.
Reid, 59, said he appreciates some of the accomplishments of previous councils, such as the Orillia Recreation Centre, but he thinks there needs to be a shift in council’s mindset moving forward.
“I think that, overall, we need to sort of pull back a little bit and say, maybe spending on some more legacy projects, big projects is not really a good thing right now,” Reid told OrilliaMatters. “(We need to) reset a little bit, take care of some of the stuff that I kind of feel is not being neglected, but not given due attention.”
He highlighted sidewalks, trails along the waterfront, and citizen concerns–such as desire for traffic calming measures in certain areas of the city–as some of the smaller ticket items he would like to focus on.
“Some of our sidewalks in town are in horrible shape, and I think that they need a little bit more attention,” Reid said. “I realize that dollars are hard to come by in that respect, but sometimes it's the case of fixing sidewalks that the elderly are walking on, (where they) could fall and break a hip, and it's just common sense.”
Reid, who previously ran for a council position in 2010, said he has seen numerous occasions where desire for traffic calming initiatives have not resulted in increased measures, in part due to their failure to meet city criteria.
“If the criteria constantly rejects decent citizens’ concerns … if it constantly rejects these proposals, then it's time to change your criteria,” he said. “What's the downside? You slow somebody down; you don't give people the opportunity to speed through town. I think those things are worth it.”
Reid also highlighted some of the city’s bigger issues surrounding poverty, housing, and physical and mental health.
“We have an awful lot of people that are working poor, that are just struggling to survive,” he said. “And then, of course, there's the other side, which is a bigger issue, mental health, homelessness, that kind of thing, which is a little bit out of the city's wheelhouse but we still have to address.”
He said one part of the solution will be applying pressure on the provincial government to assist with solutions.
“I think municipalities across the province need to push back a little bit on the provincial government,” Reid said. “Not every municipality has the resources to deal with policing issues, with fire issues, with hospital issues, with mental health issues, with seniors, long term care, and these things have a massive effect on the city budget … doesn't it make more sense the provincial government ponies up?”
With a platform built around being ‘responsible,’ another part of the solution will be to keep costs as low as possible for residents, Reid said.
“If you can't reduce taxes, then at the very least hold the line and keep it respectful,” he said.
“Rents are atrocious now; availability is atrocious now, and then if you can't give the public services without starting to increase (taxes), you're creating an even tougher time for them surviving," said Reid.
“Inflation is going through the roof, and it's groceries that are affecting people, it's gas, it's everyday things,” he said. “If we do what we can for the next four years … Make it about the people that you know are hurting, and don't don't look for ways to spend money.”
Reid stressed the importance of council having a “mindset change” with its priorities and communications with the public over the next term of council.
“It might be one day you get voted in, but that vote is spread over four years, and if you want to claim that you're going to be accountable, responsible, transparent, you need to show that. You need to put words into action there.”
Pat Hehn and Tim Lauer are the current Ward 4 councillors. Hehn is not seeking another term, leaving Reid, Lauer, Janet-Lynne Durnford, and Joe Winacott as the current candidates for a Ward 4 position.