Van Berkel wants to balance old and new
By Bruce Hain Innisfil Journal Oct 13, 2010
INNISFIL – Deputy Mayor candidate Bill Van Berkel is proud of his Dutch heritage.
?gMy dad, Tony, spent four years in a (German) concentration camp during the Second World War,?h he says. ?gHe was in the Dutch resistance.?h
The Van Berkels came to Canada with not much more than the clothes on their back.
?gThis country?fs been good to us,?h Van Berkel says. ?gMy parents (Tony and Chris) worked very hard and installed it in their children. They said, ?eAlways be good to people and when you have something, share it.?f My father worked in construction and I went to work for him and then went back to college.?h
Van Berkel served 18 years on Innisfil?fs volunteer firefighter department before joining Town council in 1993.
?gI?fm very proud of that first term in office,?h Van Berkel says. ?gWe brought water to Alcona, sewers to Lefroy. I give (Mayor) Stew Fisher a lot of credit for that. It turned the tide for Innisfil. When we got water and sewer, we started getting builders and developers knocking on the door. Stew and I travelled back and forth to Toronto. We really fought to get money from the province and the Ontario Clean Water Agency. In hindsight, we stuck to our vision and now everybody wants water and we sell it to Bradford West Gwillimbury.?h
This era gave him, Van Berkel says, ?gan enormous amount of experience dealing with the various provincial agencies.?h
Throughout the years, Van Berkel served a term as president of the Innisfil Chamber of Commerce, on the South Simcoe Business Association and as an appointee to the Innisfil Public Library Board. He was the superintendent of the Crossroads housing development for 10 years as well as running his own construction firm.
He currently enjoys his duties as president of Branch 547 of the Royal Canadian Legion.
After two terms as ward councillor, Van Berkel ran for Deputy mayor. He lost to Barb Baguley. He later returned to the council table as the Ward 2 rep.
Innisfil is entering a crucial step in its ongoing evolution, Van Berkel believes.
?gWe are at a crossroads,?h he says. ?gWe need to concentrate on improving our quality of life. That means good roads, stable taxes and developing our downtown area in Alcona. We have to be protective of what we have but have to see both sides. I think I have that. I want to make the town a good place to live. When we say, ?eWork, live and play in Innisfil, we mean it.?f I feel lucky to be able to do that. The re-urbanization of Innisfil Beach Road will be a jewel for the Town. We will be leaving a legacy.?h
If elected, Van Berkel says his ?gattitude and knowledge of the building industry?h will be put to good use.
?gMy big thing is to create jobs in such a way to protect the environment and not be put on our taxpayers?f backs. Development must pay for development. We don?ft live by our rules anymore. The developers know the rules better than we do. If they can get one more house in a development, they win. We have to stand up.?h
The proposed density in the Mica development in the Sandy Cove area ?gis nuts?h Van Berkel says. ?gIt?fs what gives experienced councillors nightmares.?h
As to his campaign, Van Berkel says, ?gI couldn?ft be happier when there is so many candidates. I don?ft sling mud and I would never badmouth anyone. It?fs our God-given right and we are really, really lucky to be living in Canada.”