Bailey, Seip say farewell to North Huron council

NORTH HURON – The current North Huron council sat together for the last time on Nov. 7, with outgoing Reeve Bernie Bailey and Deputy Reeve Trevor Seip expressing their gratitude to fellow council members, staff, and the community with heartfelt goodbyes.

“This is my final report as the Reeve of North Huron,” Bailey said. Then, in an unusual moment of comedy, the Reeve’s Google Search on his tablet spoke up suddenly with “I’m not sure I understand,” easing the moment with a round of laughter from the councillors.

“Part of me wants to speak the truth about many hard, challenging and misunderstood things that happened, because I do want them off my chest and I do want the public to be informed,” said Bailey. “But the other part of me encourages me to stay strong, positive and the proud leader that I have been over the last four years as I exit this role.”

Bailey said he felt that this council had served the community well over the last four years, with some projects at the beginning, some nearing the end, and future items that will better the township.

The Reeve outlined some of the accomplishments of the current council, including the new firehall and subdivision in Blyth, the new apartment building in Wingham, and the subdivision “on the horizon” in East Wawanosh.

“These projects mean more dwellings, which means more people paying taxes to our extensive services,” Bailey said. “But just as important it will help to address the housing shortage and it will help to turn the labour shortage around.”

Bailey went on to talk about being reeve during the pandemic and how he was able to get the necessary services to combat COVID-19 to his constituents.

“As a leader in this community I raised the Pride Flag for the first time and championed that the Land Acknowledgement be read at each council meeting. I know that these two acts are merely putting a Band-Aid on a broken limb, but it’s a start. I supported the opening of the connection centre and for the care for the most vulnerable, the hurting, the hungry and those that need help.”

He spoke about the ongoing issues with Morris-Turnberry. “It is important to state that the cross-border agreement for them was terminated one year before I was elected.

“I was hired to make fair deals, not to be the nice neighbour who gives services away,” said Bailey, “while North Huron taxpayers pay for it. I cannot say this part enough, we have all the responsibility. I don’t know what they’re waiting for.”

Bailey talked about the sale of the Wingham airport that was costing taxpayers $100,000 a year and the incoming $5 million from the surrounding land. He hopes the future council will use the money to promote economic growth in North Huron and not for basic operational costs. “I believe it’s our greatest chance for future sustainability,” he said.

Bailey said, “I am saddened that I cannot see more projects all the way through to the end. I chose courage over comfort. I am proud that I did. I did not take baby steps. Leaders are taught that baby steps no longer work in this changing world. I will leave knowing that I did the work that mattered.”

Finally, Bailey spoke directly to all councillors, praising their determination and leadership. “Look what we accomplished as a team.” he said. “I only shared some of the many accomplishments in this message. There are many more.”

He thanked North Huron staff, nodding to CAO Dwayne Evans and Clerk Carson Lamb for their tireless efforts and extensive knowledge.

Bailey thanked the Wingham and Blyth BIAs and all the committees for their input, which helped them make significant decisions.

“Last, but not least, I want to thank my family, especially my wife Angela who never wavers in her devotion to myself, our family or our community. We are family strong, together, forever. Thank you.”

Seip said his goodbyes during the councillor comments session, also expressing his gratitude to fellow councillors, staff, and community members.

“I want to take this time to extenuate my profound gratitude to staff, council and senior management during a most difficult time in my life over the past six to eight weeks, on the passing of my mother.” said Seip. “I can honestly say that between my work, family and the township over the past eight years, I really, truly believe that we have grown in a sense of family.”

He thanked the people who took the time over his mourning period to reach out and express their love and care for him.

Seip said he would still be around and involved in the community, “I am not going away…I might be taking a little bit of a break, but I’m not going anywhere.

“I want to thank each and every one of you from the bottom of my heart,” said Seip. “Thank you very much.”

North Huron’s inaugural council meeting is to be held on Nov. 21, where new councillors will be sworn in and begin the next four years in their terms of office.

Cory Bilyea, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Wingham Advance Times