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PART 5: What is Orillia city council's enduring legacy?

Many pointed to the waterfront development, while others touted the climate action plan and some said COVID-19 will likely overshadow everything
council may 4
City council is shown during a recent virtual meeting.

Orillia's City Council, elected in November of 2018, is entering the final year of its four-year mandate. The next municipal election, slated for Oct. 24, 2022, is just one year away.

With that in mind, we canvassed Mayor Steve Clarke and all eight city councillors to answer six key questions heading into the home stretch of their tenure. They were given a limit of 150-words per response. Their responses are published verbatim

Their responses are published verbatim. Click here to read their answers to our first question. Click here to read their answers to our second question, here for answers to the third question and here for answers to our fourth question.

What do you feel will be this term of council's most enduring legacy

David Campbell (Ward 1)

My first thought was the Metro property redevelopment and how that will transform that area certainly for the rest of my lifetime.

However, I think this council will most be remembered as the one who’s term occurred during the pandemic. That certainly changed the way in which we governed. It forced us to review processes. It forced us to look at different ways of governing. I think, in many ways, it forced us to make changes that I see as very positive for this city.

Which is not to say in any way that I’m glad it happened, but I think we, as a council, made the best of the situation we were handed. I look forward to seeing how those changes positively affect this city in the future.

Ted Emond (Ward 1)

Opening the Recreation Centre, redeveloping the Metro plaza and railway lands, and surviving the pandemic were all significant, but I believe council’s most enduring legacy will be leaving the city in a more positive financial position than when we took office.

Orillia Mayor Steve Clarke

If there is an enduring legacy, as much as I would prefer it would be perhaps around items such as economic development/job creation and fighting climate change, it is hard to imagine the number one issue from this time will not be the effects of and the reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Long after this pandemic is over, the relationships with our partners and the action taken by our citizens will indeed become an important part of our local history.

Ralph Cipolla (Ward 2)

The development of the waterfront, which has a long-term benefit to our tax base.

Rob Kloostra (Ward 2)

Orillia needs to move towards building a strong legacy of financial accountability while we still have the resources. Having said that...this council needs to come to realize that not every problem needs a solution. Sometimes those in charge need to step back and leave the magic and beauty of our fair city alone and count our blessings.

I would like to say on record that the citizens of Orillia have spoken and they want Couchiching Beach Park and Terry Fox Circle left alone. 

Mason Ainsworth (Ward 3)

The legacy this council will leave behind is somewhat bittersweet due to the pandemic and the many restrictions associated with it. The reality is, during this term of council, the 30-plus-year-in-the-making Recreation Centre was finally opened! We have yet to have a grand opening due to COVID-19 restrictions which make this major accomplishment a bit surreal.

As many have yet to attend the facility, there is still an opportunity to have an official grand opening once restrictions are reduced. Regardless of the timing of this project, it is exciting that it is finally built and open!

Jay Fallis (Ward 3)

The City’s Climate Change Action Plan. I believe that the development (and future implementation) of our city’s Climate Change Action Plan has real potential to change this city for the better for generations to come. In talking with staff, I get the sense that this plan could bring about a new way of thinking on various issues including: procurement of city assets, sustainable growth, land management and waste management, to name only a few.

With this plan we can lay the groundwork for our city to become a model of sustainability. Full credit is due to the city’s Operations Team for leading the project, as well as Sustainable Orillia and other advocates within the city for inspiring the plan and the research behind it.

Pat Hehn (Ward 4)

I hope that we have done a good job with the waterfront. My mother was on council when the Metro Plaza was built. I remember her coming home from the opening absolutely aghast after talking to the architect because no one had told him that the plaza was next to a lake. All they had told him was that there was a railway line behind the building. So he built it accordingly. 

I really hope that we have taken everything into account and that the results will benefit our community.

Tim Lauer (Ward 4)

Although, as mentioned in a previous answer, I think we have a way to go but it is my hope that we will be remembered as a council that took significant steps towards righting the ship in regards to the environment; that we effectively set in motion strategies that will reduce our carbon footprint, bring storm water and water quality issues to the forefront, protect our green assets and ensure a sustainable future. The environment is obviously a global issue but if each individual and their municipal community can improve what they can reach, we will have done our part.

I would also point to the impressive community response to Orillia’s increasing health challenges - both mental and physical - and hope that this term of council will be remembered as supportive.

TOMORROW: Check back tomorrow as our series wraps up with a question asking each councillor and the mayor if they intend to seek re-election.