A ward councillor for the past four years, Bonnie Bryant sees room for improvement at the head of the council table. With that in mind, she’s now vying for the mayor’s job up for grabs in the fall election.
The Maryhill resident will be taking on incumbent Todd Cowan and former Ward 1 councillor Sandy Shantz.
First elected to her Ward 3 seat in 2010, Bryant focused on the challenging gravel pit debate that proved to be a big influence on that election. With the issue largely resolved now, she said this week it’s the fundamentals that will be in play this time around – things like integrity, openness and fiscal responsibility.
“I think we need some strong leadership,” she said, noting the administration should focus on making Woolwich “an even better … place to live, work and play.”
As there are no big controversies on council’s plate – nothing like the gravel pits, slots/casinos or Walmart development that riled up the public in previous debates – Bryant said good governance itself is the priority. That’s especially true of dealing with the township’s infrastructure deficit.
“We need to be fiscally responsible … with all the projects ahead.”
That means setting priorities for spending tax dollars and getting the public onside, and even more involved, with the choices.
“We have to engage the public,” she said. “Where do they want to see their taxes spent?”
She knows, however, that community engagement is something of an uphill battle when fewer than a third of us even bother to show up for an election every four years.
The question of how do you get people engaged perhaps starts, she suggested, with a more involved council. That’s why she wants to see better communication between mayor and council, something she says is lacking right now, with the mayor following an agenda that’s out of sync with the others.
In that vein, the mayor should also be seeking more input from councillors about the goings-on at the regional level, where the mayor serves as the sole township representative on that council.
“They’re not working as one unit for the betterment of the community,” said Bryant of mayor and council just now.
Other priorities include protecting the township’s farmland and waterways – “If we don’t protect these things, they’ll be gone.”
Both the natural and built environments need to be protected, she argued. Moves such as the designation of a cultural heritage landscape around the covered bridge in West Montrose and the recent heritage listing of St. Boniface school in Maryhill are prime examples of what needs to be done.
Protecting older buildings and cultural draws such as the farmers’ market – “there are so many good points about Woolwich” – enhance both economic benefits through tourism and the quality of life for residents, she added.
Like municipal voters across the province, Woolwich residents go to the polls October 27.