When Coun. Doug Shipley begins his unpaid leave of absence from his Ward 3 duties in a week, his Ward 4 counterpart will make sure it’s business as usual in his absence.
Shipley has decided to seek election as the Barrie/Springwater/Oro-Medonte MP in this upcoming federal election, and as such, on Aug. 22 he will be stepping away from the city council duties he has held for the last nine years.
On Monday, city councillors agreed to have Ward 4 councillor Barry Ward take over the day-to-day responsibilities to ensure the constituents have someone they can turn to if they have concerns and/or questions.
“Our wards are very similar to the point we’ve held our town halls together for several years,” said Ward. “There are no major development plans for either ward that I’m aware of, which is one of the main things a councillor needs to deal with, so it really shouldn’t be too difficult assist here.”
Ward has been the councillor for Ward 4 since 2000 and is also serving as the deputy mayor for the first two years of council's four-year term; Shipley was slated to to take over the role for the final two years.
Shipley is confident Ward will do a good job.
“Barry and I know each other well from years on council and outside of the job, too,” said Shipley. “He knows this city in and out, and with our wards being so similar and close, there isn’t a better person to fill this role right now."
Shipley told BarrieToday that his phone is always on for Ward should anything arise that needs his expertise. However, he says there are a couple options for his constituents.
"I know Barry is always available to the people of the city, but we also have the great system of Service Barrie, which will help as well," said Shipley.
Service Barrie is the online assistance program residents can use for smaller concerns.
“I think we may say a 'smaller' concern when talking about what Barry and Service Barrie are there to help with, but as a councillor I’ve realized the people don’t have small concerns,” said Shipley. “If your garbage wasn’t picked up, if there is a fallen tree in your yard, these are issues you need dealt with and they aren’t small to you.
"I understand that as does Barry Ward. We may not have major development happening in our wards, but we have people who have issues they need dealt with, and that’s important," said Shipley.
Should Shipley be unsuccessful in his attempt to win the BSOM job in October, he will return to council.
If he should win the seat, it would then be up to council to either appoint a replacement or hold a by-election.