Openings on O’Connor council

·2 min read

O'CONNOR, ONT. — The candidate carousel is clearing up in O’Connor Township.

O’Connor Mayor Jim Vezina will once again run in Oct. 24’s municipal election, although he has not officially filed his nomination papers and is currently unopposed.

Current councillor Alex Crane is also throwing his hat in the ring for another crack at councillor, while councillors Jerry Loan and Wendy Handy have indicated that they will not be running for council in the next term.

Vezina has been the mayor of O’Connor for seven years, taking over the job shortly after the unexpected passing of mayor Ron Nelson, who was elected in 2014.

Vezina, who sits as O’Connor’s representative on the Thunder Bay District Health Unit, Lakehead Regional Conservation and Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association boards, said hammering out the township’s official plan and zoning bylaws during the COVID-19 pandemic was one of council’s greatest accomplishments.

“One of the best achievements we made was the drafting and the passing of our new official plan and zoning bylaw,” Vezina said. “(Official plans) have a lifespan usually around 20 years. Ours was initially approved in either 1999 or 2000 and by the time 2020 rolled around, it was outdated.

“We just finished passing our zoning bylaw (in February of this year) . . . by somewhere in 2021, I think, we had the final approval (from the province) for the actual official plan. It’s basically the bible under which your municipality operates.”

Should he prevail in the upcoming election — Vezina was acclaimed in 2018 when he went unopposed — the technical sales representative for Atlantic Industries Limited wants to keep a keen eye on the budget.

“For O’Connor it’s going to be, as it always has been in the past, the struggle to bring to your citizens and residents, the services and needs that they require, yet find the money to do it,” Vezina said. “It’s always about the budget.

“We’ve managed to, since I’ve been on council, going from having great peaks and valleys in your annual budget . . . and trying to get (the tax bill) to a very low range to around two or three per cent increase of the pool of money that the (township) needs to spend.”

Residents of O’Connor can file nomination papers for mayor or the four councillor positions up until Aug. 19.

John Nagy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Chronicle-Journal

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