‘I would love to have a city where people can both live and work’: Ex-MP Alex Nuttall has eyes on the mayor’s chair

Nuttall says the city's residential tax base is increasingly taking the burden

Alex Nuttal is no stranger to Barrie City Hall.

Prior to adding another rung to his political ladder, serving as Conservative MP for Barrie-Springwater-Oro-Medonte from 2015-2018, Nuttall was a Barrie councillor between 2006 and 2014.

Jeff Lehman will be seeking the Ontario Liberal Party nomination in the same riding and has ruled out a fourth term as mayor.

But Nuttall stresses that his decision to run for mayor was not triggered by Lehman’s political decision last week, though the timing to confirm his intentions was.

“I don’t think you make a decision based on somebody else’s decisions,” says Nuttall. “You decide whether you can give back to the community and whether you can play a positive role, and I have been weighing that for a number of months now.”

Nuttall has not released his platform, but the city’s growth is top of mind.

“There is huge residential growth coming, and even during the pandemic, we had tens of thousands of vehicles leaving the city each day going to Toronto for work.”

Nuttall envisions Barrie as a place that provides good jobs for the people who have decided to live here.

“I don’t want people sitting on the highway at 7 p.m.,” he says. “I want them to be able to sit with their family around the dining room table or the living room, and I don’t want families having to hit the highway early in the morning.”

“I would love to have a city where people can both live and work.”

A strong transit system and infrastructure such as roads are also things Nuttall plans to zero in on.

But the old saying that there is only one taxpayer has not slipped his mind.

“Over the last number of years, the city of Barrie’s residential tax base is increasingly taking the burden, while the commercial and industrial tax base is going down.”

Nuttall strayed into controversy in Ottawa when he publicly opposed plans for a safe consumption site in Barrie.

In May 2021, city council endorsed a site at 11 Innisfil Street.

Nuttall is quick to point out that he isn’t in denial the country has an emergency in relation to fentanyl and other opioids.

“I believe in rehabilitation services, and I travelled the country visiting different sites,” he says. “I want to see a community that is able to help those people who are hurting. There is so much opportunity to not just improve the city, but to improve individual lives.”

While the province has not given the green light to a safe consumption site in Barrie, Nuttall doesn’t hint th at he will put up a fight against one if Queen’s Park gives the nod, acknowledging it’s an item that has been determined by the current city council.

Nuttall points to his own childhood growing up in Ontario Housing and his family relying on services such as Christmas Cheer and the Food Bank for support.

The only other person to announce their intention to run for mayor is Ward 6 Coun. Natalie Harris.

She told Barrie 360 last month that she brings a different set of skills to the table, with respect to social services and life experience in that area of the community.

Nominations for the Oct. 24 municipal election open on May 2.

Banner image: File photo