Wauchope proud of projects
By Bruce Hain Innisfil Journal Oct 13, 2010
INNISFIL – In his lifetime, Gord Wauchope has risen through the ranks, both professionally and politically. Now, he wants to become the “chief” of Innisfil Council.
Following a 30-year career with the Metropolitan Toronto Police, Wauchope “retired” to Innisfil with his wife, Brenda and family. He became active in the community, helping start Summerfest in 1996 and serving as president of the Innisfil Minor Hockey Association.
“I started attending council meetings because of the growth happening in the Alcona area,” Wauchope says. “I also wanted to know if there were more arenas being planned.”
An underlying thought he had was, “I thought things weren’t being done right. I said to Brenda, ‘They’re (council) not looking after people. It seems to be just becoming a bedroom community with not enough activities for youth and families.’”
Elected as ward councillor in 1997, Wauchope was appointed to the Innisfil Public Library Board. In tandem with the board members, Wauchope helped build the momentum that led to the creation of the Lakeshore branch that opened in 2001.
In recent years, Wauchope ran successfully for deputy mayor (2006) and was a driving force that saw the Innisfil Recreational Complex become a reality.
“Not everyone was in favour of what we did,” he says, “but we did it for the future. There’s an opportunity to add another arena pad down the road. You have to build these projects with the future in mind.”
The new Town Hall and the extensively renovated North Division HQ of South Simcoe Police Service are two more accomplishments of the current council Wauchope is proud of. The new Cookstown library and community centre is another achievement of teamwork between the municipality and citizens groups.
Wauchope notes council has been criticized for its apparently profligate spending habits in the past five years.
He counters, “everything Council has done in the past 13 years has been for the betterment of our citizens. I wouldn’t say we spent too fast. We needed these things. Our Town staff, parks and rec people and police department are all very proud. Our (financial) rating is A-stable from Standard and Poor.”
Regardless, Wauchope admits, “We have to broaden our tax base. We just can’t keep building houses. There are ways of enticing businesses here. We have a CAO (John Skorobohacz) who has a great vision for the Town and directors with great experience and we are fortunate with the staff we have here.”
If elected, Wauchope wants to see servicing of water and sewer to the Innisfil Heights – Hwy. 400 area occur quickly.
He expects the landowners, Metrus Group and the Cortel Group come to the table with their pocketbooks open.
“They bought he land,” Wauchope says. “It’s not the taxpayers’ responsibility to pick up the tab for servicing.”
Oddly, there has never been a serious meeting between local politicians, Town staff and developers to hash out scenarios on this servicing issue, Wauchope adds.
When queried about the oft-repeated phrase “Old Boys’ Club” at Town Hall during the 2010 campaign, Wauchope refutes the allegation.
“We need experience at Town Hall. It’s not an Old Boys Club, but you do need the people who can sit down and talk with the major developers. John Skorobohacz says there is a need for Geranium, Cortel and Metrus to work together.”
Preservation of the diminishing number of heritage homes and sites in Innisfil is important to Wauchope, too.
“I was totally shocked when the Ness-Adair house was torn down,” he says. “They came in at 3 or 4 a.m. in the morning. It was an underhanded way for a developer to come in. I can tell you right now, I’m not too easy on developers. I don’t appreciate developers telling you one thing and then doing another. If they play dirty pool, we’ll play dirty pool.”
In terms of residential development, “Cramming people in is not my vision for Innisfil.”
Wauchope says he’s in favour of Innisfil hiring an economic development officer.
“We’ve put it on hold long enough,” he says. “We need someone experienced to do the job. Our CAO can go find someone who is highly recommended.”
Patching things up with Barrie in the aftermath of the bitter annexation process is key to Wauchope as well.
”I’ve talked to Rob Hamilton and Jeff Lehman (Barrie mayoral candidates) about mending fences and discussing new Barrie-Innisfil relationships,” Wauchope says. “I’ve said let’s talk about a transit system for parts of Innisfil. One of my goals is to have some kind of transit system serving Big Bay Point, Sandy Cove and Alcona.”
If elected, Wauchope believes he will have a talented pool of councillors to work with.
“I plan on being in Town hall every day,” he pledges. “I don’t hide anything and I have nothing to gain by hiding anything. I guess it’s my police experience. You sit down with people and try to work out a solution.”