Ardiel returns to TBM political scene for councillor run

·3 min read

Gail Ardiel is no stranger to voters in the Town of The Blue Mountains, having been part of the local political scene since 1997.

Ardiel served as a councillor, deputy mayor (2014-2018), county councillor and also served in leadership roles with other organizations including: the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, Ontario Small Urban Municipalities, as chair of the Nottawasga Conservation Authority and on the local Police Services Board.

“We need experience and we need knowledge and this town can benefit from that,” said Ardiel. “I can bring cohesiveness back to council and fairness and get rid of the negativity.”

Ardiel and her husband Shane have four grown children and they operate Apple Springs Orchard. She spent 45 years in the daycare business and owned and operated multiple daycare centres in local communities.

Her first run at municipal government was prompted by her work to get a skateboard park in Thornbury.

“I wanted things for the kids to do after school and on weekends. The old council said 'it’s just a fad,' she recalled.

Ardiel wasn’t deterred and organized a meeting and was able to rally community support for the concept and with the help of volunteer efforts and service clubs, the project became a reality.

“All these people came in and asked 'what can we do to help?' Next thing you know, there was a skateboard park,” she said. “Then they said: 'you need to run for council.'”

Ardiel said she has received a lot of encouragement from local residents to run for council again.

“In this election, the environment needs to be respectful, engaging and cohesive,” she said. “You have to be innovative in your thinking. If you’re not progressively moving forward, you’re not going to get anywhere.”

She is a strong advocate of protecting the local environment and agricultural land.

“We have to protect our agricultural lands. The Official Plan does, but it’s slowly creeping,” she said of development pressures on farmland. “We have the Greenbelt, why can’t we have an extension of that all the way up the escarpment to Tobermory?”

She said she is concerned about the direction the Campus of Care project is going and said affordable and attainable housing is a major issue to tackle.

“I have three kids living back in The Blue Mountains. It’s been very tough to find a place, they were lucky to find one, but what about their friends?” she said. “What can we do? It’s not something that happens overnight. We don’t have cheap land here. How can you put affordable housing on land with these assessments?”

Ardiel said she is enjoying her return to the local political scene and the engagement she has had with local residents and other candidates.

“I’m trying to touch base with all the candidates. It’s going to be very interesting and I think I can work with anybody,” she said.

Election day is Oct. 24. For information about registering to vote or to see a list of registered candidates, visit the town website here.

Chris Fell, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, CollingwoodToday.ca