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With unfinished business in Ward 1, Riepma seeks second term

'It feels like there’s a fair bit of stuff that we’ve started that isn't finished yet and that’s what I’d like to keep working on,' says Ward 1 incumbent Clare Riepma

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. 

Clare Riepma is hoping to get a second kick at the can and get re-elected as Barrie’s Ward 1 representative in the Oct. 24 municipal election. 

Riepma, who has lived in Barrie for nine years, was first elected in 2018 after receiving 974 votes  or 29.7 per cent  cast in the east-end ward.

His decision to run for council the first time was based on his desire to be involved in his community, something he says he's done for the majority of his life.

“I have been working with municipal councils all my life in my profession as a city planner," Riepma told BarrieToday. "I know how councils work and I have also been heavily involved in my community all my life. I was chair of the committee of adjustment, on the environmental advisory committee… (and) I was always involved in my community in some fashion or another. It just seemed like a natural progression.”

The 72-year-old says the reason he wanted to run for a second term was simple: He wants to finish what he started.

“It feels like I haven’t finished the things I wanted to finish. I really love Barrie and I love Ward 1 and it’s been a labour of love to be the Ward 1 councillor,” he said. “It feels like there’s a fair bit of stuff that we’ve started that isn't finished yet and that’s what I’d like to keep working on.”

One of the biggest issues the father of six  and grandfather of 18  says he faced during his time on council was dealing with the ongoing issue of absentee landlords. Council added four enforcement officers to the city’s ranks in order to more proactively enforce property standards bylaws, Riepma noted. By the time the roles were filled and the individuals trained, that program had only been in effect for a few months, he added.

“We haven’t really seen how effective that’s been and I think it probably needs nine months or a year for us to see if that really makes a change," he said. "If it makes a real improvement, that’s terrific. If it doesn’t we will probably have to revisit that whole question again.”

The issue of homelessness and housing affordability is another key issue that Riepma says council has addressed over the last four years, but added he feels there is still a lot left that needs to be done on that front and he wants to be part of that.

“We just finished the Official Plan and next on the agenda is the zoning bylaw. That’s going to be a document we all have to deal with for many years to come," he said. "That’s one piece of important business the city needs to do. Another piece is the annual budget … and there are increasingly difficult decisions council will have to make given the rate of inflation. The city is not immune from that and, of course, how that impacts on our ratepayers. That’s always a challenge, to bring that into balance. People need services, but at the same time they need to be able to afford the taxes that we levy on them.”

A city planner for more than 50 years, Riepma currently owns his own consulting practice, however said he’s slowly working his way toward retirement. He believes it’s his experience in running city’s and in knowing how they run, as well as unique perspective as a “business guy” and a solid financial background that help make him the best candidate for the job. 

Constance Elliott is currently the only other confirmed candidate in Ward 1.

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