Van Berkel runs for deputy mayor
Simcoe.com June 2 2010
INNISFIL – Coun. Bill Van Berkel kicked of his campaign to become Innisfil’s next deputy mayor Monday, emphasizing that he will treat the position as a full time job.
“The buck has to stop somewhere, and I believe the mayor and deputy mayor have to be there full time for the people,” Van Berkel said.
The Belle Ewart resident and 14-year council veteran put his support behind current Deputy Mayor Gord Wauchope for mayor who is expected to run against former deputy mayor Barb Baguley for the top job.
“Gordie and I work together very well. The man puts in endless hours of effort. He is like a bulldog — he just doesn’t give up,” Van Berkel said.
Announcing his candidacy on the front lawn of the new town hall, Van Berkel said the issues centre around the economy and the environment.
“Innisfil’s economy must be strengthened. We must recognize we are in competition with other towns and cities for economic growth, and we must use our existing advantages of location and transportation routes to encourage business to come here,” he said. “I want more people who live here to be able to work here.”
Acknowledging that provincial policies have thwarted Innisfil’s attempts to grow and attract industry, Van Berkel said the town needs a stronger voice.
“It’s high time that we have competent people that can go to Queen’s Park and fight on our behalf with strength and passion,” he said. “We need people with clout.”
Without naming Mayor Brian Jackson, Van Berkel alluded to the mayor’s inability to influence provincial politicians on key issues including Barrie’s annexation of Innisfil lands.
“We as a team should be involved in that, not just one person,” Van Berkel said.
Van Berkel said the town’s new management team will go a long way in positioning Innisfil for future development.
“I’m excited. I really think that the next four years will be the years for Innisfil to move ahead,” he said.
Van Berkel said he was “embarrassed” by some of the antics on council this term, suggesting council has been split because of a well-publicized rift between Jackson and Coun. Bill Pring. Jackson, who has yet to announce his political intentions, pleaded guilty to threatening Pring with bodily harm. The incident occurred in the town hall.
Van Berkel said he wants more transparency and accountability on council in the next term.
“We need quicker action,” he said. “When people have a problem it shouldn’t just be swept under the rug to be brought up months later.”
Van Berkel, who owns a construction company, said he can take on the position full-time by handing the reins to his son, Tony.
Van Berkel is the president of the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 547. His town committee positions include conservation authorities, the library board, the finance committee, parks and recreation and the economic development committee.