Highlands East mayor goes for fourth term
|By Mark Arike - Staff Writer | June 7, 2018
Highlands East Mayor Dave Burton wants to serve the people for another four years. After much thought, he filed for re-election on May 29.
“I decided there’s enough gas in the tank to go another term,” said Burton in an interview. “I feel I have a lot to bring to the table. I feel I can be available, approachable and accountable.”
The incumbent was first elected to the top spot 12 years ago. He previously was a councillor in Oro township (eventually amalgamated to Oro-Medonte) for six years. He and his family moved to Wilberforce in 1998, but Burton’s relatives first began visiting the area in the 1940s.
“It’s not how long you’ve been here, but what you’ve done,” he said. During his tenure, Burton is proud of the work of the municipality’s five advisory committees. Comprised of ratepayers and councillors, they include: economic development and business, recreation and culture, trails and outdoor tourism, environment, and housing and grants.
“I think it’s been a real good way to get our community involved in what we’re doing and be part of the recommendations,” he said, adding he started the committees eight years ago with council. He’s also very happy with the results of the new septic reinspection program. Last summer, two student employees inspected 903 systems on seven lakes. It will continue this summer. “My mandate is to protect our assets. We have to take care of the lakes and be good stewards of them.”
If re-elected, Burton plans to focus on improving high-speed internet and cell service through the Eastern Ontario Regional Network’s (EORN) mobile broadband project. Burton is on the EORN board and is its past chair. Other priorities include developing a policy for short-term rentals and improving infrastructure, such as roads and sewer systems. He said he recruited a doctor for the community and she’s expected to start seeing patients next year. And, he really wants to bring a financial institution to the municipality. At the start of 2017, Scotiabank closed its Wilberforce branch.
“They pretty much cut off my right arm when they took the bank out of here,” said Burton. He’s involved with a few external organizations, including the Ontario Good
Roads Association and Source Water Protection. As of Tuesday, no one else had put their name forward for mayor. The election is on Oct. 22.
MARK ARIKE is a reporter for The Highlander.