• Protecting Water and Farmland in Simcoe County

Path now clear for new leadership

In Simcoe County
Dec 12th, 2009

Collingwood Enterprise Bulletin Editorial
Tony Guergis did the right thing by stepping away from a fourth term as Simcoe County warden.
The Springwater Township mayor had become a lightning rod in county politics, and as he admitted, a divisive one at that.
By declining the warden nomination Tuesday, Guergis cleared the way for Wasaga Beach Mayor Cal Patterson’s acclamation.
Since there was no warden vote among the 32 county councillors, it’s difficult to say what would have happened.
Maybe Guergis would have lost anyway. Maybe he knew he was going to lose and decided to get out while the getting was good.
But the vote could have also been divisive, and this is a county council that’s already had plenty to be divisive about.
And Guergis has been at the centre of it. ‘It’ being Site 41.
Guergis, famously, had opposed the Tiny Township dump site, situated on prime farm land and over a pure source of drinking water.
He then changed his mind and supported Site 41, deciding that it was the only viable option for the county’s waste problems.
Many Springwater residents were furious that their mayor would switch sides on this issue.
But Guergis didn’t bow to public pressure. He defend Site 41, explaining that as warden, he had to do what was right for the entire county, not just one part of it.
Even as opposition to the dump site grew, as there were protests and demonstrations, exhaustive media coverage and pressure exerted on other county councillors, Guergis held firm.
He knew which way the wind was blowing, but was unswayed.
Guergis supported Site 41 right until county council bowed to huge grass-roots opposition and stopped the dump site.
But people didn’t forget. There were a half-dozen residents outside the county’s Midhurst office Tuesday with signs reading ‘Dump Tony’, asking councillors to vote in a new warden.
To his credit, Guergis knew, one way or another, that it was time to step away from the warden’s chair after three one-year terms.
County council still has some huge challenges before next fall’s municipal elections, which will elect the next slate of mayors and deputy-mayors.
It still needs to solve the waste dilemma. With no Site 41, there will one day be more garbage than places to put it in Simcoe County.
The county also needs to get its head around growth issues. Its plans for growth in the county were basically rejected by the province, which decided instead that Barrie needed Innisfil land, and that the city is where many of the new jobs should go in future years, along with population increases.
The relationship between Barrie and Simcoe County also needs to be repaired, and maybe Guergis isn’t the best one to do that, given his stance on the city’s growth plans.
So it’s probably best that he stepped aside. Because if there is no lightning rod, maybe county council — and its opponents — can get back to the issues at hand.
Tony Guergis is Tony Guergis. He’s not going to change, and he knows that.
By vacating the warden’s chair, he has cleared the way for new leadership and new direction.
It’s to the credit of Guergis that he recognized this was necessary for the greater whole.

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