Tim Lauer was first elected to city council in 1997 and his passion for the position has not waned.
“I still love doing the job,” said Lauer, who will seek re-election this fall. “I believe I still have the energy and can still make a positive contribution.”
The Ward 4 councillor, who ran unsuccessfully for the mayoralty against Angelo Orsi in 2010, has no plans to seek the city’s top post this time around. “I’m quite happy being a councillor.”
With experience on a variety of councils, Lauer believes the current group has worked well together. “In general, the way this council has worked has been quite pleasant – there has been a lot of cohesion and I think we’ve been able to push through a lot of items.”
Among that list is ambitious plans to renew the waterfront and better link it to the downtown. Council has given the project the green light, but the initiative is in its infancy.
“I got my teeth in this waterfront development project … it’s definitely one of the reasons I’m running again,” said Lauer of what he sees as “a once-a-century kind of opportunity.” He said “it’s not a pie-in-the-sky plan. It’s doable. There will be glitches … there are still lots of discussions to be had, but in the end, I can see this transforming that area in the next two to three years and I think it’s going to be significant for Orillia.”
He knows some doubt the plan will move past the planning stage. “I’ve been around for 20 years and I’ve seen lot of waterfront plans come and go, but we’ve never got this far down the road and never been in the position we’re in now with all the opportunity that is down there … I’d like to help see it through to completion.”
Lauer is also eager to see the new recreation centre open this year. “I think that’s a good thing, to put the rec file to bed. I think we’ve moved forward positively financially; we’re in really good shape. Our debt per capita is really quite low despite the fact we’re building some fairly significant facilities. We’re going to tap into our line of credit for a couple of years, but we’re not going to increase our long-term debt significantly so that’s positive.”
He does, however, have a few regrets. “I’m disappointed I lost the debate on the at-large system,” said Lauer, who tried unsuccessfully – again – to get support from his colleagues to nix the ward system.
But it was two other issues that got under his skin. “The two issues that sort of kept me up at night were the sale of Central School and the sale of the CN train station,” said Lauer. He was vehemently opposed to their sale but when the decision was made to sell, he lobbied his council colleagues to protect the historical buildings. “Through discussion, we managed to slow down (the sale of Central) and get it to an RFP process and get an historic designation of the train station before it’s sold.”
While he is in favour of the private developer’s plans for Central, he still rues the decision to sell the properties. “It’s going to look like a short-term win, but, personally, I regret that we’re giving up what I feel are two of our last cultural entities,” he said. “But, overall, I’m more than pleased on the progress made on major files, there’s been great co-operation. For the most part, there’s been fair consensus on most major items and when there wasn’t … everyone respected the process.”