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Clarke set to run for mayor in Ramara

In Council Watch
Mar 7th, 2014
1 Comment
Mayor Basil Clarke

By Sara Ross, Orillia Packet & Times

Ramara Township is ready for a new leader, says Deputy Mayor Basil Clarke.

Clarke, 48, is hoping to unseat longtime mayor Bill Duffy in the fall municipal election.

“It’s always been my intention to run for mayor in 2014. That was the goal I set for myself when I very first got to council,” Clarke said Friday.

Although he has been deputy mayor for two terms, Clarke said he may not be as familiar to voters as some others.

“When the work has to be done, I’m always at the table, but I’m not one to step in front of the camera and push everybody else out of the way,” Clarke said.

When Clarke became Ward 3 councillor in 2000, he was running a farm with 400 sheep.

He wanted to be a sheep producer for 13 years, which is as long as he farmed dairy cows. Clarke has now reached the 13-year mark and has 40 ewes.

With his farm slowing down and his children grown, Clarke said is ready to dedicate himself to the township’s top job.

“You should be on council a couple years before you run for mayor. To me, that was very important,” Clarke said.

He has been deputy mayor since 2006.

Clarke said he has gained respect from County of Simcoe councillors through his role as the county’s performance management committee chair. Clarke has held the position since 2010 and, as such, every year, he is part of reviewing the county’s budget.

“I’ve gathered the respect of my fellow councillors by being that strong voice of common sense and reasoning and I’d like to bring that home,” Clarke said.

As mayor, Clarke’s main goal would be to repair Ramara’s relationship with Rama First Nation.

“There’s been some real damage done there, especially in the last year,” he said. “We really need that co-operation if we’re going to service the Rama Road corridor and get the development that we want.”

The township and First Nation were on their way to developing Rama Road six years ago.

“We had quarterly meetings set up between our council and theirs and now there are no longer any meetings between our council and theirs,” Clarke said. “That’s something that I really want to bring forward and solve those issues because we’ve gone backwards and no developments are happening because of it.”

In order to see development on Rama Road, the township needs to tap into Rama’s water and sewer services.

“The cost for us to bring (services to) that area is unbelievable. They have a plant that can be expanded,” Clarke said. “We would, of course, pay for any costs that’s our share.”

Clarke would like to see tourist-related businesses, hotels and even theme parks on Rama Road.

“The casino shouldn’t be the only draw to this area,” he said.

Until that is resolved, the township can’t move forward, he said.

“There is a housing shortfall in our area right now because the province no longer allows farm severances,” he said.

Once Rama Road is serviced and jobs start flowing, the township can focus on promoting Brechin as a residential area, he said.

“If we can get the jobs in the Rama Road corridor, we can get the housing we need in Brechin,” Clarke said.

If he becomes mayor, Clarke will also work to mend the relationship between council and township staff.

“It’s no secret that there’s been a lot of cheap shots taken by members of our council at our staff,” he said.

In one case, it led to the township’s public works employees joining the Canadian Union of Public Employees.

“They are a great bunch that work very hard and they’re very dedicated to the township,” Clarke said of the public works employees.

As chair of the performance management committee as part of his role on county council, Clarke has experience working with unions.

As Ramara is still in 2014 budget discussions, Clarke said it is too early to start campaigning.

“I don’t think we should go down that route until the budget’s passed. The township has to come ahead of the campaign,” he said.

One Response to “Clarke set to run for mayor in Ramara”

  1. Vlasta and Dr. Mladen Seidl says:

    Before we cast our ballot for Basil the Mayor, we’d like him to address our following concerns.It’s been our 10th anniversary of owning our Lagoon City condo unit, however year after year and lately in particular, we’ve been witnessing continuous and progressive deterioration and dissipation of this community: businesses close, community beach is polluted by birds droppings, children playgrounds are scarce and ill equiped, waterways covered with weeds, no attractive community events are being organized – the area is dying away and as a result many homeowners are selling their properties and moving out. Our hope is that as a mayor of this naturally beautiful and potentially promising residential and tourist area you will make all effort to develop incentives to attract small businesses, improve roads, dry out marshes, clean the beaches, build and equip a contemporary playground adjacent to the beach etc. in order to revive this
    administratively neglected part of Ramara. Please respond both verbally and in action.
    Vlasta and Mladen

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