After almost 28 years in municipal politics, Georgian Bluffs Mayor Al Barfoot has announced he will not be running in the upcoming municipal elections.
Barfoot, who has served as mayor of his municipality for the past three terms and was also warden of Grey County in 2016 and 2017, announced at Wednesday's Georgian Bluffs council meeting that he would not be running for re-election on Oct. 22.
“We all look at our work-life balance on what we do with our time and after 28 years of being in municipal politics I just felt it was time to go,” said Barfoot. “My wife and I want to do some travelling and you are on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week as mayor. I have always taken the position really seriously.”
Barfoot, 63, was first elected to council back in 1991 as a councillor with the former Township of Derby. He was first elected mayor of Georgian Bluffs in 2006 and was acclaimed to the position in 2010 and 2014 when no one ran against him.
Barfoot said he considered taking a run at another term and it was a difficult decision to not run again, but he feels it is the right one.
“I am happy with the accomplishments council and myself have made over the years and the projects I have spearheaded,” said Barfoot. “Obviously we are all getting older and it is always great to have new ideas come forward, so after three terms as mayor I decided it was time to move on.”
Barfoot said the municipality is in great shape financially and he has been blessed to have been able to work with good councils and experienced staff.
“We still have a lot on the go and I would like to see these projects completed by the end of the year,” said Barfoot. “There is a lot of work still left for the next five to six months.”
Among the projects Barfoot wants to continue to work on is developing the Wiarton-Keppel International Airport and he said they are close to announcing a partner in the venture.
“We want it to be a regional airport, but we have to prove that is the future of the airport so we are working hard to do a presentation to both (county) councils to make it a regional facility,” said Barfoot. “We are working hard to have that before this fall.”
Another project Barfoot wants to see continue forward is the environmental assessment for the town plot of Brooke just west of Owen Sound, where Georgian Bluffs hopes to expand the East Linton water system to service some areas there, as well as the Potawatami Village subdivision.
And he would like to see some progress in accepting source-separated organics at the biodigester Georgian Bluffs owns with Chatsworth.
“With the province's announcement they are going to ban source-separated organics going to landfills, the Ministry of the Environment has been working very closely with us on the future of that facility doing that,” said Barfoot.
In his 12 years as mayor, Barfoot has many moments he considers highlights, but the most prominent one is bringing a roundabout to Alvanley.
“I was a thorn in the MTO's side for a long time on that as the preferred option,” said Barfoot. “I take a lot of pride in it and I think that is the right facility for that area. I think it works better than the lights and people are becoming accustomed to it.”
He is also proud of helping Georgian Bluffs bring in its first strategic plan as well as an official plan for its urban areas.
“I am pretty pleased I was able to help and spearhead and work through those projects to get them to the point where we are today,” he said.