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McLaurin eyes Ward 4 council seat in upcoming city election

'As an ex-commuter (and) driving to Toronto for the high-paying jobs... (I see) the city has done well in encouraging companies (to come) here, but we need to do more and keep doing it,' says candidate Donald McLaurin

Editor's note: BarrieToday is running profile stories on candidates for city council in each of the city's 10 wards in the coming weeks. For more election coverage, visit our 2022 municipal election page by clicking here, where you can also find mayoral profiles and other election news. 

Donald McLaurin isn’t letting a past defeat stop him from wanting to make a difference in his community.

The 60-year-old has lived in Barrie for 28 years, having spent the last 19 years working as a contractor in the area. McLaurin, who is running as a council candidate in the Ward 4 in the city's northwest end, previously ran for Barrie city council in Ward 8 in 2010. And despite losing out to Jennifer Robinson at the time, he has decided to take another shot at a seat around the council table in the municipal election slated for Oct. 24. 

McLaurin says he has been involved in a number of different committees, including several years on the board of directors of a non-profit daycare.

“When (Barrie) Central (Collegiate) was closing, my wife and I were involved trying to keep it open. When that was not possible, we arranged the farewell party,” he told BarrieToday. “The sense of community has always been there. We are almost empty-nesters, so I have more time to give and devote, so that’s another motivation.”

The father of four says he has slowly begun to reach out to residents in Ward 4  as well as the current councillor, Deputy Mayor Barry Ward, who is running for the mayor's seat this election  to get a clearer idea of what they believe to be the top issues in the area. City-wide, issues like affordable housing, jobs and mental health all top McLaurin's list of concerns that need to be addressed and solutions found.

“Three of my daughters live in the top three most expensive cities to rent or own: Toronto, Ottawa and Barrie. Not seeing them be able to afford a house easily is a drive towards doing something for affordable housing,” he said. “As an ex-commuter (and) driving to Toronto for the high-paying jobs... (I see) the city has done well in encouraging companies (to come) here, but we need to do more and keep doing it.”

Finding ways to enrich the community is another key part in attracting new companies to relocate to Barrie, McLaurin says. 

“We’ve got beautiful parks, a nice downtown, great recreation facilities... (but) we’ve got to keep that going because we’ve got lots going for us,” he said. “Before the pandemic, we had festivals down at the waterfront every weekend. We’ve got to get them back and it’s going to be a job to get them back and keep things rolling. We have to work to bring back those tourist dollars and activities for our own community.”

Addressing the ongoing mental health crisis is something else McLaurin says is important to him, not only in relation to the community’s homeless but also the larger community following the pandemic.

“It’s affected a great number of people... so whether it’s providing more support, working with different groups to alleviate stresses in people’s lives and the anxiety… we have to work with the groups and develop a good mental health plan," he said. 

McLaurin added his personality and temperament, combined with his desire to not drive his own issues but rather focus on what’s important to the residents, is what will make him the best person to take over the role of Ward 4 councillor next term.

“I have an interest in providing what the constituents want. Yes, I want to do this, but my drive is not to push my own agenda, but rather the agenda’s of the community.”

Candidates in Ward 4 include McLaurin, Tim Abel and Ajmal Noushahi. 

The nomination window for candidates closes on Friday, Aug. 19.