Outgoing Grey county councillors say goodbye

The final meeting of Grey County council featured many goodbyes and thank yous.

The current county council held its final meeting of the term on Nov. 10. The agenda for the meeting was light and featured an opportunity for the nine members of council not returning for the next term to share their closing comments.

Warden Selwyn Hicks presented each outgoing member of council with a Grey County pin to recognize their service to the community.

Grey Highlands Deputy Mayor Aakash Desai did not run for reelection and will step down from local government at the end of the term.

“It has been my honour to serve with all of you. I’m proud we were unafraid in the face of tough choices,” he said, adding his best wishes for the new council. “I wish you all the successes you strive for.”

After eight years as mayor of the Municipality of Meaford, Barb Clumpus has decided to retire.

“It has been a joy and pleasure to work with you,” said Clumpus, who cited the friendship, camaraderie and professionalism as the highlights of serving on county council. “It is going to be a very exciting next four years coming up. I wish everyone the best luck for the next four years.”

Outgoing Chatsworth Deputy Mayor Brian Gamble said he will remember his time at Grey County fondly.

“This is a great organization. You should be very proud of it. I’ve learned a lot in my time here,” he said. “It has been a great time. I’ve really enjoyed it.”

Outgoing West Grey Mayor Christine Robinson thanked council and staff and hinted that she would try to return to the county council table in the future. Robinson lost her reelection bid to former West Grey Mayor and county warden Kevin Eccles.

“It was my honour, my privilege and my pleasure serving as county councillor the past four years,” said Robinson, who wished the incoming county council luck. “I will see you in four years.”

Owen Sound Deputy Mayor Brian O’Leary thanked county staff for their support and expressed his appreciation for his fellow councillors.

“I want to thank all of my colleagues for your friendship the last four years. All the best in the future,” said O’Leary.

The Blue Mountains Mayor Alar Soever was the only outgoing member of county council present at the meeting who did not make farewell comments. Soever had a more fractious relationship with the county in general and cited his frustrations with the two-tier local municipal system as one of the reasons he chose not to run again in October’s election. In an interview after the meeting, Soever reflected on his observations about the system.

“I found my time on county council challenging. I enjoyed working with all the people there, but they’re in difficult circumstances trying to work within a structure that is 170 years old and the boundaries no longer reflect how we live, work and play. The structure no longer serves all of the county well.”

Southgate’s outgoing mayor John Woodbury had to leave the meeting early and outgoing Georgian Bluffs mayor Dwight Burley was absent.

County CAO Kim Wingrove took time to thank members of council for their service.

“We as staff are so grateful to have the quality of council we have had through these four years,” said Wingrove. “I feel very, very blessed.”

Grey-Bruce Medical Officer of Health Dr. Ian Arra spoke to county council early in the meeting and expressed his gratitude for council’s support during the COVID pandemic.

“On your watch, Grey-Bruce has mitigated the effects of the pandemic that have been devastating, and the impact was relatively minimal on the families of Grey-Bruce,” said Arra.

Chris Fell, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, CollingwoodToday.ca