Shuniah, Ont. — Don Smith is all about the Municipality of Shuniah.
The acclaimed MacGregor Ward councillor’s family has been in the area for over 60 years and is going into his third term with all the best intentions for the community.
“Shuniah is in my heart,” said Smith, a retired optician and former vice-chairman on the Thunder Bay Police Services board. “I grew up there as a kid as a seasonal resident and I live there full-time now.
“It’s a great community and we have a good, working council. I think there’s still room to make Shuniah a better community.
“I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else, but there’s always opportunities to expand on your tax base and needs for the community.
“Maybe some more retail, maybe some more industrial, but you don’t want to affect your residents in general. It’s a great community. I always tell everybody that Thunder Bay is the suburb of Shuniah.”
The beauty of the community is unrivalled when commuters roll down Lakeshore Drive to take in the sights and sounds that Lake Superior has to offer in Shuniah.
This is not lost on Smith and he would like to see more people, not just from Thunder Bay, flock to where seagulls and loons call the view of the Sleeping Giant their home.
“The key is the residents,” said Smith, who is currently a board member with the Thunder Bay District Health Unit.
“In a lot of ways, they call this a bedroom community. It’s a bedroom community to a point, but it’s also a very tourist-driven community. I’d like to expand on the tourism part of it.
“We have different things that we can offer people. Silver Harbour, McKenzie Point and Wild Goose. Wild Goose we’ve done a lot of work at and we’d like to continue it. Mount Baldy is part of our community and hopefully they’ll be up and running with (the chairlift) and the T-bar this year.
“There’s a lot to offer outside of just living in Shuniah. For folks coming in from out of town, we have everything, parks, boat launches, fishing, there’s just so much to possibly expand on and to encourage people to get down there and enjoy what we’ve got because it is a beautiful place.”
Smith is a big proponent of keeping McKenzie Public School open, would like to see the Rails to Trails initiative receive more traction and has seen some recent inroads made from the province to fixing up both landfills in Shuniah.
Shuniah is also unique in that all three MacGregor Ward candidates were acclaimed. Along with Smith, MacGregor Ward councillors Donna Blunt and Ron Giardetti were acclaimed. Shuniah Mayor Wendy Landry was also acclaimed.
The only race in Shuniah comes in the McTavish Ward as incumbent Meghan Chomut faces newcomer Dawn Powell for the remaining councillor seat.
Smith is a fan of the current council from its experience to how well they work together.
“This council we have is a really positive council,” Smith said. “It’s not a kumbaya thing. We have our differences from time to time, but at the end of the day, everybody’s looking out for the best results for Shuniah. If there’s an issue that we don’t maybe all agree on, we end up with a compromise and do whatever’s better for the community.
“This council seems to work really, really well. (Landry) is a good leader, a really strong leader. The rest of us all respect that, but we also respect our own opinions and each other. I think that’s a key with any council is the respect piece. If you don’t have respect, you’re done before you even start.”
Municipal elections will take place on Oct. 24.
John Nagy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Chronicle-Journal