Coun. Joe Andrews reflects back on first term of Council

September 3, 2021   ·   0 Comments

By Sam Odrowski

Orangeville Councillor Joe Andrews has had a busy three years in his first term, with the last 18 months brining about many unique challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

When asked about some of the more significant work done at Council over the past three years, Andrews made note of the transition from the Orangeville Police Service (OPS) to Ontario Provincial Police (OPP).

“That was very much a campaign platform item for the mayor, and he was adamant that, this was something that he wanted all council to review,” he recalled.

“We did do a rather extensive review, it’s well documented, we all did our due diligence. We highly respect the police services that existed, and highly respect the police services that now exist.”

Since Orangeville Humber’s inception in 2006, many residents were put through its law enforcement program and went on to work with the local force, Andrews noted.

But his support of the transition from OPS to OPP came down to one of his election platforms, which is to not burden taxpayers.

“That was one of the issues that all of us were educated on at Council – the expense of running your own police force, versus in partnership with the province,” he said.

When looking at financial accountability and fiscal responsibility, Andrews said his promise coming on to Council was to ensure every decision that’s made is well reviewed and looks at the long term.

A recent example of a decision that was well-reviewed and made with the future in mind, according to Andrews, was the pool liner replacements at the Alder Street Recreation Centre.

He explained that while it’s an expensive proposition, costing over $4 million, every member of Council went through the documentation on it numerous times and came to the conclusion that a stainless-steel wall liner would provide better value and longevity for the pool than vinyl.

Meanwhile, garnering business investment in the community has been another focus for Andrews during his term on Council. Almost immediately after being sworn in, he became the chair of the Town’s Business Economic Development Advisory Committee (BEDAC).

The biggest challenge in getting significant business investments locally is the lack of lands available.

The COVID-19 pandemic has also had a significant impact on BEDAC’s operations as it has provided support to the local business community.

“I think part of my personal mandate is to ensure that we do what we can to support businesses, small, medium, and large in our community to recover as best they can,” said Andrews. “There are extenuating circumstances that we won’t be able to necessarily foresee, but we do see a recovery that is very slow, but it is coming along, and you’re seeing people who are embracing that very positively.”

Apart from Council, Andrews has had a busy professional life.

He worked in the post-secondary system as the principal of Humber College’s Orangeville campus for the last 15 years. Andrews was responsible for launching the campus in 2005 and continued his administrative work with Humber up until the end of last month.

Things are now set to slow down for Andrews as he officially retired on Aug. 31.

Prior to his administrative role at Humber, Andrews worked as head of the media broadcasting program at Humber, beginning in the late 80s.

He told the Citizen he’s fortunate to have had a successful career in broadcasting, radio, and television prior to and during his post-secondary work.

When looking at Orangeville Council, Andrews said he considered running in 2012 and 2014.

“In fact, I had my candidate papers ready, signed and ready to go in 2014,” he remarked. “I decided not to run in 2014 because I just wasn’t sure what the playing field was going to end up being, and as we know, historically, it was an unfortunate four years, where there was some dysfunctionality with that particular council at that time from 2014 to 2018.”

Andrews told the Citizen his motivation for running in 2018 was to make a difference, using the skills he’s developed throughout his professional life.

“I have long standing background in administration, leadership roles, dealing with significant budgets, knowing the differences that exists in communities that have long term struggles and trying to garner investment,” he said, noting work he’s done overseas has helped him to understand the importance of community involvement.

Andrews has been heavily involved in the Orangeville community since settling here with his wife in 1990, serving on many different committees over the years.

“One that really strikes a chord is the Canada Day Celebration – I was involved with that for 13 years,” he said. “Former member of Council, Jennifer Walmsley, was the co-chair, and so both she and I were really integral in having that particular event.”

Unfortunately, Orangeville hasn’t had a large-scale Canada Day celebration in the same way for several years, and with the COVID-19 pandemic ongoing, things have been even quieter the past 18 months.

In addition to his Canada Day committee work, Andrews was a part of the Dufferin Board of Trade, First Night in Orangeville, and the Kin Club.

When looking at his run as councillor, Andrews said it was an opportunity to expand his footprint in the community and use his skills to give back.

“The community has been very kind to me and my family – very good for us – and I felt that this was an opportunity for me to provide some leadership, some experience, and also some integrity too,” Andrews noted. “Part of my beliefs is strong integrity, to analyze specific matters that may be a part of a community’s concern, to listen to people, to hear their sides of the story, as opposed to just driving a particular agenda forward.”

Another big reason for Andrews’ candidacy was because so many town residents were asking him to, he explained.

“I think that that maybe was reflective of my leadership role that I had with Humber Orangeville and how we were able to navigate through a variety of local, regional and provincial minefields to get specific things underway,” Andrews said.

With respect to next year’s municipal election, he told the Citizen he has not decided if he’ll run again and will make that decision closer to the deadline for applications.

“I had very clearly committed to a term, that was something that was very important to me,” he said. “I have yet to make that decision [to run again], because I’m focusing on this term. I know that some people may be politically looking at the next term already. That is not my style, my style is to commit to the now, and I’ll let the future make its decision.”

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