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When Barry Burton reflects on his eight years as deputy mayor of Clearview Township, he has much to be proud of.

Burton is set to retire at the end of this term. He originally ran for council in 2018, driven by a desire to save the Collingwood Street Bridge in Creemore from demolition. Ultimately council decided to replace the bridge but maintain the superstructure which was declared historically significant. Burton would have preferred to preserve the entire original structure but says thecommunity seems satisfied with the compromise.

At an all-candidates meeting in the run-up to the 2018 election, Burton was asked what he intended to do for youth in the community. Having been a Scout Leader for 25 years, he was well aware of challenges facing youth, so together with Councillor Robert Walker he pitched council on the creation of a youth centre.

Burton envisioned a safe, drug-free, bully-free environment for youth 12- 18 that would offer positive social interactions and opportunities for personal development. The Clearview Youth Centre opened in Stayner in 2016 and has since been recognized as one of the best youth centres in the province. Affordable housing is another favourite cause. Burton says many seniors are forced to leave our area because of the lack of suitable housing, and notes that economic development is being hampered. Many industries that might consider Clearview as a potential location are dissuaded by the lack of affordable, attainable housing for employees. He encouraged Clearview council to earmark half a million dollars per year for three years for a reserve fund to create affordable housing for seniors, reasoning that if the township put together $1,500,000 they could push the County of Simcoe for matching funds and begin to address the housing crisis in a meaningful way. Instead, council voted to put $250,000 per year into reserves, and that amount was further reduced to $150,000 per year during the pandemic. Meanwhile, County council budgeted $2 million for an affordable housing project that was awarded to Victoria Harbour.

Burton says in addition to serving as deputy mayor of Clearview, his time as deputy warden of Simcoe County and the county representative on the Niagara Escarpment Commission gave him a much broader understanding of issues affecting neighbouring municipalities.

Burton cites the fact that a proposed Clearview Aviation Business Park has been placed on the back burner as a major disappointment. He feels it would have moved Clearview way ahead in terms of economic development and while the concept is not dead it will need strong support from a future council if the dream is ever to be realized.

Burton ran his own lighting company and says the time he devoted to township and county business cost him money. He recently asked township council for a significant boost in base pay for the mayor and deputy mayor starting in the next term. That request did not get support from the majority of councillors. Even so, Burton says, it was a genuine pleasure to serve the community and he feels fortunate to have forged many great friendships along the way.

In retirement, Burton and his wife will be moving to their waterfront property in Magnetawan. He’s looking forward to time with family, travel to Scotland and England, and restoring another antique boat. Most of all, he says he’s looking forward to waking up in the morning and not having to consult his calendar to see which meetings he must attend.

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