Kyle Fegan shares his journey into municipal politics

March 11, 2021   ·   0 Comments

By Peter Richardson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

First time Shelburne Councillor, Kyle Fegan started life in what is now Cambridge and for the first few years of life, until high school, moved all over Canada following his father’s job placements.

Come high school, that job had landed the family in Orangeville and there they stayed. It was also in Orangeville that Kyle started his lifelong interest in martial arts, over the concerns of his mother, who finally acquiesced when he became a teenager and because she knew the instructor.

Following high school, Kyle studied graphic design and for a while, actually worked at the Orangeville Banner, later he would open his own studio, Impact Kreative, designing marketing and advertising. It was in Orangeville that he met his wife and as she was studying at York University, in Toronto, the couple moved to the city. Since it was too far to commute to Orangeville to the Judo Dojo, Kyle began to study Taekwon Do in Mississauga.

Later, he would study karate and with black belts, in all three disciplines, he eventually opened his own martial arts dojo, in Shelburne. Once his wife had graduated and the couple began to look for a house to buy, it was decided that they and their son would move back to Orangeville and eventually, to Shelburne, his wife’s hometown. Thus began Kyle’s involvement in the community and his progression to becoming a town councillor. Along the way, came two more boys an interest in music and a career change for his wife, who became a career corrections officer. Could this have had anything to do with having three boys?

Kyle is a firm believer in giving back and has thus always been active in community events, festivals and committees. One of his many contributions was, helping to design and produce the Hometown Heroes posters for Shelburne.

With all his existing involvement, it was not much of a stretch for his wife to encourage him to run for Council in the 2018 municipal elections. After all, she said, you are already doing the work, so why not become a part of the organization too? Kyle has never been a big self-promoter, but he took to the streets and knocked on a lot of doors, and talked to a lot of townsfolk.

His message must have resonated, because he found himself elected and facing a lot of hard decisions as a result.

Kyle had campaigned on the need to address Shelburne’s infrastructure needs, including the water treatment plant’s requirements for major upgrading. With this major hurdle now firmly underway, he hopes to continue the battle for the rest of the concerns, like the underground pipes, road surfaces and facilities such as Jack Downing Park. The latter, is scheduled for a major facelift and will become the focal point of the entryway to downtown Shelburne, situated as it is, opposite Town Hall and at the very beginning of the downtown core. One of the lessons Kyle has learned as a councillor is to be unbiased and thoughtful about the decisions he is asked to make, regardless of his own opinion, one way or the other.

He said one of the hardest things to learn was to vote because something was the right thing to do, regardless of how he felt personally. His decisions had to look at the whole town and not his own feelings, or those of special interest groups, representing the town as a whole and not just one segment of the electorate. As a result, Kyle finds himself often as the arbiter of sober second thought. Nevertheless, he enjoys being a councillor and at this point will definitely run for re-election.

Kyle is determined to see Shelburne grow and expand, but not at the cost of the town’s identity. Growth is inevitable and impossible to stop, however, with that growth must come the opportunity to live and work in Shelburne.

Kyle sees Shelburne reaching a population of 15,000 over the next five years and is adamant that with those new people must come new employment and retail opportunities. 15,000 is the magic number for the big retailers and the big box stores, but Councillor Fegan would like to see a revitalized downtown rather than Costco and Walmart. He also envisions more corporate/commercial development, to offset residential property taxes and more evenly distribute the tax burden, in general.

A better balance of residential and commercial taxpayers means a more vibrant community for the town and the opportunity to live and work in Shelburne. Moving away from the current bedroom community view of Shelburne and towards a complete community outlook. Despite some who seem to want Shelburne to regress to what it was ten or fifteen years ago, a sleepy little farming community with an extremely rural lifestyle, the town is fast becoming an urban centre and Kyle would like to see that morph into a complete community with its own identity and a sense of self, as opposed to a dislocated community of “come from aways.”

On the subject of many of the townsfolk’s wants and wishes , Kyle showed his sober second thought tendencies and looked at them through the eyes of reality. For example, the much-discussed by-pass. Kyle fully supports the idea and recognizes the need, but the reality is, it is not the Council’s decision. The Town does not own the necessary roads and certainly does not have the finances to build roads to suit. The roads involved either belong to the Province or the County and can not simply be commandeered by the Town. First and foremost, the MTO has to decide when and where a by-pass will be built and that is a lengthy process. Once it is approved, the building process is also lengthy and another thought to consider is, how many tourists and travellers will simply by-pass Shelburne on their way to wherever?

Presently, Council is actively advocating for a by-pass, with the upper tier governments and progress is slowly evolving, but the results will be slow. Likewise, with the beautification of the downtown, there are many procedural hurtles to overcome, before much of what is wished for can come to pass. The town cannot simply pass a bylaw and demand that everything be changed to what would be more eye pleasing. The time for that to have been done is long since passed. Smaller steps have to be taken and finding the funding will be a big issue. It has started however, renovating Jack Downing Park as a first step.

Kyle finds public service suits him. He enjoys meeting with people and working with them to solve problems and achieve goals. He enjoys getting to know other public servants like the fire chief and the OPP Commander, who, although do not technically work for the Town, are nevertheless integral to its well-being and growth. He supports inclusion and multiculturalism and feels they are an important part of a healthy community. Certainly not the only part but one of a mixture of components that enable a community to become involved in a dialogue that brings everyone to a better understanding of their town, their neighbours and how it all blends itself one to the other, to maintain a vibrant community of diverse members and realities. In the end, these things and countless others lead Kyle to believe that Shelburne will succeed and grow and become whatever its townsfolk can envision.

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