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COLUMN: Remembering the late Coun. Gary Baynes

Remembering the late Coun. Gary Baynes on the one-year anniversary of his death
The late Coun. Gary Baynes/ Submitted Photo

It's been one year since the passing of Ward 2 Coun. Gary Baynes. 

It feels like it was just yesterday I was sitting down with him at Coffee Culture interviewing him for a feature about his role on council. I had just started working as a reporter, and he was so kind and friendly. 

I remember him showing me a scar on his knuckle, that looked similar to that of mine from playing 'Bloody Knuckles' in high school. 

But his scar wasn't from a coin. 

No, his scar was from knocking.

He told me how he had knocked on so many doors during his campaign during the 2014 election, making sure to hit every single home in Ward 2.

That's how dedicated he was to his community, his constituents and his town. 

Being a councillor to him was more than just a part-time job. It was a real honour. And I could see that from every council story I covered or town event I attended. 

He loved Bradford and the people in it.  I think he would be more than pleased to see the progress being made with the downtown over the past year, with the Bradford Bypass, Downtown Revitalization and Community Centre renovations, and all the work his successor, Coun. Jonathan Scott has been doing, advocating for the mature part of town.

Gary was known as the 'math guy' on council, for his sharp budgeting and financial skills. 

It was always about 'the little things' that were most important to Gary, and getting things right for the residents. 

An example I will never forget is the 2020 budget, where even after council had already voted on the year's tax rates, he stepped up and proposed a reduction of 0.5 percent to the special capital levy, all so residents could save $163 on their 2020 tax bill. 

He was always great at estimating how long every council meeting would be. Every other week I'd email him asking for his best guess, to help plan my evening, and he would always be within the 10-minute mark. Every time! 

Gary was a Bradford native. His parents lived on a dairy farm. Gary would always speak so fondly of both his parents. 

He would always tell me about his mother and how she wanted the Bradford Bypass built before it was even a topic of discussion, and told me many of her old sayings.

His mother was a teacher in town in the one-room schoolhouse, before Bradford and West Gwillimbury amalgamated.

Gary loved sports. He played all types of sports when he was younger, but his favourite was fastball. He played around Simcoe County for many years and won countless trophies, (which he sent me multiple photos of to post in his feature piece), and was a big advocate for youth activity and programming.

As Chair of the  Active Transportation Committee, he played a large role in the town's Walk n' Wheel Wednesdays which encouraged youth to use active transportation to get to school.

When Gary died, the town set up a trust fund in his name to help children in the community pay for sports programs. 

A street 'Baynes Way' is being named in his honour in Cachet Homes' new subdivision off Dissette. Council would also like to dedicate one of the new downtown benches to Gary, with an engraved plaquing. 

Gary is sorely missed, and his legacy will live on in the town he helped make us all proud to call home. 

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Natasha Philpott

About the Author: Natasha Philpott

Natasha is the Editor for BradfordToday and InnisfilToday. She graduated from the Media Studies program at The University of Guelph-Humber. She lives in Bradford with her husband, two boys and two cats.
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