Joly mayor considering options, may run in Strong

·5 min read

Joly Township Mayor Tim Bryson has a big decision to make. Bryson is wrapping up his first term as mayor after seeking municipal office for the first time in 2018. He beat incumbent Bruce Baker and Coun. Chris Nicholson who ran for the top municipal position. Bryson says he definitely intends to stay involved in municipal politics but the options he's weighing are whether to seek re-election as mayor of Joly or run in the Township of Strong. Bryson owns property in Strong, which allows him to run in the township. Bryson said Joly has a strong council and he wants to talk to the council members first before making a final decision on which township he would like to run in. He wants to leave the five-member council in good hands and says “if someone here wants to step up” and run as mayor then he may consider running for a seat on Strong council. However, which seat remains uncertain. “I would run for mayor of Strong if I didn't think there was another strong candidate,” Bryson said. “But if there is another strong candidate, then I would run as a councillor. And I think there is going to be a heck of a good candidate coming forward to run for mayor.” Bryson would not name the individual but said the person he's talking about is a past Strong councillor “who is a very articulate individual.” This individual is someone he could work with to move Strong forward but acknowledges no member of any council will always agree with one another. Bryson adds if the individual he has in mind decides not to run, but other people run for mayor he “will have no issue running against anyone else. “And I'm confident I will have the support of Strong taxpayers,” he said. Byrson said the poor state of roads in Strong is a major issue and he told the Nugget “for some reason something keeps (Strong) from keeping the roads at a consistent standard that taxpayers expect.” He doesn't believe a lack of money is the issue, because Strong has a large tax base. It's roads that got Bryson involved in municipal politics four years ago in Joly. He said the township experienced high turnovers with employees, especially in the roads department, and Bryson believed he could reverse this trend as mayor. So instead of running first as a councillor and moving his way up, he aimed for the mayoralty on a campaign to “create a more harmonious work environment.” Bryson is the owner of Tim Bryson Forestry Services and its sister company, Homestead Sawmill, and said as a small business owner he understands the value of providing good working equipment for employees. “I know from my own business it's tough to hire someone if you have old equipment that's not comfortable, doesn't run right, or the air conditioning or heater don't work,” he said. “We replaced the grader and dump truck and now have good equipment people like to operate,” Having reliable equipment makes it easier to keep existing employees and in the event some workers go elsewhere, it's easier to hire replacements. Bryson feels confident in saying the township has had some of the best roads it's ever had and in large part that's due to less employee turnover. One exception is Peacock Road, which is a problem because it has poor drainage and that keeps water levels on it up. “It is a struggle to maintain this road,” he said. There are a couple of projects Bryson and the councillors also brought to the forefront during this term and they were creating a human resources committee and communications policy. These remain works in progress. But on the completed checklist, this current council was able to secure two-way radios for the workers, staff began producing solid monthly reports to help members of council keep abreast of what's going on in the township and council was also able to update its procedural bylaws. Bryson says these accomplishments may not seem big compared to what happens in larger centres. But Joly's population stood at only 304 people according to the 2016 Census. Bryson said that means the municipal office does not have many employees and he praises employees like the clerk for being able to wear several different hats to ensure jobs get done. There is another issue Bryson expects will come up during the municipal election.

Amalgamation. Current merger talks between Joly, Strong and Sundridge have made little headway during this term. Bryson says both Joly and Sundridge want a study carried out on amalgamation, but a study isn't possible unless all three municipalities agree. “Until we get Strong to be in unison with Joly and Sundridge, amalgamation discussions are on pause until we determine their intentions,” Bryson said. Bryson says Sundridge and Joly can't merge on their own because both municipalities are separated by Strong. Bryson says if he becomes mayor of Strong, top on his agenda will be moving forward with an amalgamation study to see “if it makes sense and we'll have something to present to the taxpayers.” Bryson is married with two children and says a municipal council commitment is a long one, so with that in mind he will definitely need the support of his wife, Donna. Bryson's motto when setting goals is to do a good job in achieving them. He adds, “if I can't put in an honest effort, I wouldn't want to do it.”

Rocco Frangione is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the North Bay Nugget. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.

Rocco Frangione, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The North Bay Nugget

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