Councillor steps down for snowbird life
|By Lisa Harrison - Contributing Writer | August 30, 2018
Marlene Kyle is about to try early retirement on for size. Or rather, semi-retirement.
Kyle announced this summer that she would not seek re-election for a third term as Ward 3 councillor for Algonquin Highlands. Ward 3 covers the north end of the township, including Dorset and Oxtongue Lake. “It was a very difficult decision,” said the Oxtongue Lake resident in an Aug 22 interview. “My husband is in semi-retirement, he’s spending his winters down south, and I would like to spend that time with him. That was always our plan, to retire together, and unfortunately in order to be an effective councillor, you cannot do that from a distance and we do not have the ability to participate in meetings if we’re not physically present … the work was fine but I certainly don’t enjoy the winters up here on my own.”
An avid photographer, Kyle worked for 20 years in the automotive industry in increasingly senior roles and cottaged with her husband Doug in Oxtongue Lake before they moved and set up their own business there. She will join him in semi-retirement as they continue to work there and from their second home in Port Charlotte, Florida. Kyle first took her council seat in 2011 in a byelection called to replace the incumbent, who was moving.
Active in the Oxtongue Lake community, Kyle had not considered politics but was encouraged by members of the community to run for the ward seat. She won a second term in the 2014 election. Of all the decisions made by council during her two terms, Kyle said she’s most pleased with the decision to offer airport space to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) as the new home for its regional fire management headquarters.
“That was by far one of our best moves,” said Kyle. “The airport development had been such a controversial issue in the community and we managed to turn that into a longterm income generator with a client … that the public likes. They think it’s great to have [the MNRF] out there, it’s certainly an enhancement to our small little airport.” For Ward 3, her top picks are the new pavilion planned for the Oxtongue Lake Community Centre, which will enhance use of the centre, and council’s annual contributions to funding for the Dorset Health Hub.
“Municipal government should be the most accessible level of government, and it was of utmost importance to me to listen to and learn from the members of the community” and take their feedback to council for a decision on the best course of action. “The people I’ve dealt with have been just absolutely fantastic and I really like the interaction with the community.”
Kyle expressed thanks to her constituents, her fellow councillors and township staff. “They…have been amazing and have taught me so much. It’s been a very enriching, enjoyable experience and I couldn’t have done it without all their support.”
While she’s still working out her next steps, Kyle said she’s looking forward to having more time with family, relaxing and enjoying retirement. Would she run for council again?
“Well, you never know what four years down the road looks like, so there is always that chance. I enjoyed being a member of council, and the work that we were able to do was really satisfying for me, so … I would never rule out the possibility.”
LISA HARRISON is a contributing writer for The Highlander.