Long-time Orangeville Coun. Sylvia Bradley stepping away from local political arena

July 13, 2018   ·   0 Comments

By Mike Pickford

After 12 years and three consecutive terms on Orangeville Council, Sylvia Bradley announced late last week that she “doesn’t have the fight” for a fourth run for public office.

The news came as something of a shock to some members of the community who felt Ms. Bradley was gearing up for a mayoral run this time around. While she admits the thought had crossed her mind, Sylvia told the Citizen on Tuesday the past four years had weighed heavily on her, with the current toxic atmosphere at Town Hall playing a big part in her decision to walk away.

“It was a tough decision. I’ve truly loved being on Council. I think I’ve been able to bring a lot to the table, I’ve made a big contribution to the community and would have loved to carry on, but it’s just become too difficult,” Ms. Bradley said. “I think I’ve kind of run out of steam.”

Ms. Bradley was first elected to Council in 2006 and has served on many municipal committees. She is perhaps best known for her environmental work, which served as the inspiration for the creation of the Orangeville Sustainability Action Team (OSAT) back in 2007. She has chaired that particular committee for 11 years, while also taking charge of Heritage Orangeville. In this term, Sylvia has also served on the Arts & Culture committee, Orangeville Public Library Board and the Sign Development committee.

While she has enjoyed her time serving the community, particularly in her first two terms, she described the past four years as “extremely difficult”. When pressed on why she feels this Council has been unable to work as cohesively as previous councils, Ms. Bradley pinpointed three key differences.

“There are all kinds of reasons why this Council hasn’t worked. All I can say at this point is between the last term, where things worked well, and this current term is we have three different people in different positions,” Ms. Bradley said. “We have had one brand new person on Council, one returning person and one person who moved from one position to another position. That was the change.”

While she didn’t want to name names, it’s clear Ms. Bradley is referring to Don Kidd, Nick Garisto and Jeremy Williams. The relationship between those members and Ms. Bradley has been frosty at best, with Council often bunkering down into two clear, divisive sides. That’s something Ms. Bradley won’t miss.

Rather than focus on the negatives, Sylvia was keen to talk about some of her accomplishments over the past 12 years, some of which she’s “very, very proud of”.

“Bringing an environmental voice to Council has probably been my biggest (accomplishment). OSAT wasn’t a thing before I came on board – some of the initiatives our team has led over those years have been phenomenal,” Ms. Bradley said.

“We wanted to plant 12,000 trees in 12 years. I’m not sure if we got there exactly, but we’ve done a very good job. We’ve definitely gotten close.”

She added, “We initiated the Orangeville Community Garden and Orchard. We’ve worked on encouraging active transportation in time with the creation of three bike routes. Then there’s things like the urban forest we brought to town, the urban harvest program and being a driving force behind the Town’s sustainability plan, which will be amazing for the future of this community.”

As she looks back on her term and the changes she’s helped bring to Orangeville, Sylvia said it all, for the most part, brings her a sense of pride and happiness. As the world has become more and more dependent on technology, one innovation she hasn’t taken too kindly to is social media. Back in 2016, Ms. Bradley felt it necessary to be escorted into Town Hall by two police officers after a local resident threatened to “lynch” her in a comment on Facebook. The resident later stated it was a comment made out of frustration, which he clearly had no intention of carrying out.

But there lies the problem, Sylvia says.

“Social media… I call it unsocial media. It’s brutal. It’s nasty. I know nowadays you need to use social media to get your message across, but how many times do you want to get beat up trying to use. I think we’re losing a bit of our civility with social media,” Ms. Bradley said. “It seems that as soon as you become an elected official you become a target and people feel like they can say whatever they want to you. It’s just an odd thing.”

Looking to the future, Ms. Bradley says she’s excited to do some traveling and spend more time with her family. Considered something of a veteran of the local political arena, Sylvia offered some words of advice for potential newcomers.

“I hope we get some very well qualified, intelligent, skilled and experienced members on our next Council. That’s number one for me. The job of being a councillor is not a ‘simple Simon’ job, it’s complicated. There’s so many things you have to know,” Sylvia said. “Aside from that, I’m hoping the next Council will be proactive. I would really hate to see us move into a status quo where everything is put on hold. We’ve done a lot over my 12 years on Council. I’m really hoping we don’t usher in an era of austerity.”

In closing, Ms. Bradley offered a final thank you to the residents who placed their faith in her to guide the town forward for more than a decade.

“The taxpayers of Orangeville, the residents of Orangeville, the voters of Orangeville gave me a mandate for 12 years and I very much appreciate that. They had faith in me for three terms and I appreciate the relationships I had with my fellow councillors and with staff,” Sylvia said.

She added, “Moving forward, I will continue to do something in the capacity of volunteerism in the community. I’m not sure what what that will be yet, but I will get involved. I think people than can give back should be getting involved in the community. If everybody just gives a little bit, our community would be much better than it is and it’s a pretty fantastic place to be already.”

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