It’s something the City of Pickering has never seen before: all six members of council, and the mayor, were re-elected.
With a number of huge projects on the go, none of them wanted to miss out on seeing them all come to fruition.
Mayor Dave Ryan received the Pickering Chain of Office for the fifth time Monday evening, becoming the municipality’s longest-serving mayor.
But Ryan isn’t the only returning member of council. In fact, all six councillors have been re-elected — something that has never happened in the city’s history.
“We don’t agree on 100 per cent of everything, but we manage to reach a consensus after sometimes vigorous debate,” Ryan said, “but always with the best interest of the community as a whole, and that’s been recognized with the return of council.”
“We had our mayor elected with a whopping majority and all of the councillors returned with a comfortable margin, and I think it’s a testament to his leadership,” said Kevin Ashe, regional councillor for Pickering’s Ward 1.
According to University of Ontario Institute of Technology political science professor Tim MacNeill, this kind of result doesn’t happen often.
“In very, very small towns you might see it every once in awhile but this is the first time I’ve heard of it in an urban area of that size,” MacNeill said.
In the Oct. 22 election, only 29 per cent of Pickering residents voted, within three to five per cent of the previous two.
But despite having some electronic voting issues, MacNiell says that’s not why all of council was re-elected. It’s a bigger issue.
“[In] municipal elections there’s not a lot of information for people and there’s not a lot of voter participation, even though they tried with electronic voting in this instance, ” MacNeill said. “When there’s low voter turnout, the incumbent always has an advantage.”
Pickering’s population of just under 100,000 is expected to at least double over the next 20 years, which would make it the largest municipality in Durham — something council feels has to do with the projects they’re working on.
“We have Durham Live, we’ve announced plans for a performing arts centre, a new seniors centre, we have 60,000 new residents moving into Seaton, we have the potential for a new airport, we have innovation cord along the 407,” said Ashe. “So it’s truly Pickering’s time.”
“It is an economic driver,” Ryan said. “It’s not only jobs in the airport, there’s the jobs around the airport and a lot of spinoff jobs from that.”
While they may only have another four years, Pickering council is hoping to move these projects along to create a community that will continue to grow for decades to come.
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