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McCann makes city's mayoral election 5-person race

'Do I have baggage? Sure, I do, but show me one person who doesn’t have baggage,' McCann says
Mike McCann announced Wednesday he is running for Barrie mayor.

The dynamics of the race for Barrie’s next mayor just changed.

Mike McCann filed his nomination papers Wednesday morning, joining Alex Nuttall, Rob Haverson, Gerry Marshall and Barry Ward on the campaign trail.

“Today is a special day, a day that I’ll never forget. For the past 25 years, it’s been a dream of mine to be the mayor of Barrie,” said McCann, a two-term Ward 10 councillor. “I’ve got the experience. I’ve got a strong business sense and vision. I’ve got the ability to connect, inspire and listen.

“My focus is going to be economics, and that includes cleaning up the downtown, the environment. We have a beautiful waterfront; we need to keep it,” he added. “And last but not least, a healthy lifestyle for all who live here.”

McCann, 46, is a businessman by profession, owning SunFlow, a solar energy, windows and roofing company in Barrie.

But he’s also been a controversial figure during this term of council, most significantly because of a $200,000 employment-related, sexual harassment lawsuit he faces from a female city employee. McCann has denied the allegations, which have neither been tested nor proven in court.

He was asked how his baggage would play during the election campaign for mayor.

“Do I have baggage? Sure, I do, but show me one person who doesn’t have baggage,” McCann said.

With Jeff Lehman not seeking a fourth term as Barrie mayor, many have said this race for mayor is especially important and McCann says he doesn’t disagree.

“I do feel the City of Barrie is at the fork-roads,” he said. “Many times I’ve been the only councillor to vote no for issues that I really feel that council shouldn’t be spending so much time on. One being the homeless.

“We give $7 million to the County (of Simcoe for social housing), but we keep continually talking about the homeless, writing letters to the higher levels of government, and I feel we need to stay on track,” he said. “We need to start treating the City of Barrie the way most of us want to be treated.

“My perspective is the City of Barrie needs to be run like a business,” McCann said. “We need to attract better-paying jobs, we need to attract more people, we need to attract people who want to build affordable housing. There’s no sense living in a city where people can’t afford to live.”

McCann says he has a plan to do all of this.

Economically, he wants to improve housing affordability by introducing property tax incentives for first-time home buyers and attract workers to Barrie for its small businesses. He wants to offer free public transit and decrease wait times to help seniors and small businesses.

McCann also wants to restore what he calls “a welcoming experience” for residents, tourists and small businesses in downtown Barrie.

On the environmental front, he says he wants to improve programs to protect Lake Simcoe and Barrie’s waterfront, located on Kempenfelt Bay. He wants to clean up city parks and public places so children can play safely, and prepare for the environmental impact of population growth during the next few years.

In terms of a healthy lifestyle, McCann wants to promote the community’s ‘love for Barrie’ by empowering youth and businesses to thrive, and improve health and fitness by enhancing experiences in city sports programs, parks and the waterfront.

“These are a few of the reasons I believe I’m the strongest candidate to be the 47th mayor of Barrie,” McCann said. “I’m a regular guy. I’m a guy that’s been very successful in my business. I’ve attracted the right people to run my business so I can focus 100 per cent of my time on running for mayor.”

The field is now five for Barrie’s next mayor.

Nuttall, 36, served two terms on council, from 2006 until 2014, and also as Barrie-Springwater-Oro-Medonte MP from 2015 until 2019.

Haverson, 33, who owns a car detailing company, has no political experience.

Marshall, 66, is the former mayor of Penetanguishene (2010-18), former Simcoe County warden (2014-18), ran as the Liberal candidate for Simcoe North in the 2018 Ontario election and in Barrie’s Ward 3 byelection in 2020. 

Ward, 64, has been a Barrie councillor for 22 years in Ward 4 and the last four has also served as deputy mayor. He was also acting mayor when Lehman ran for MPP in the June 2 Ontario election as the Liberal candidate in the Barrie-Springwater-Oro-Medonte riding.

Nominations close Aug. 19 ahead of the Oct. 24 election to elect the next mayor and 10 city councillors.