Skip to content

Ex-warden says county involvement 'key' to Barrie boundary talks

'Some of the same situations we were trying to resolve are still trying to be resolved through the exact same methods,' says former warden
Tony Guergis, right, talks with Springwater Township chief administrative officer Jeff Schmidt.

There’s no doubt that Tony Guergis is a well-seasoned politician.

As a two-time mayor of Springwater Township and three-time warden of Simcoe County, Guergis played in the municipal politics sandbox for ages. 

He’s been out of the game for a few years, but feels he still has something to contribute.

That’s why he accepted Coun. Anita Moore’s invitation to go before council this past week to share Springwater Township's history with the current council.

A majority of councillors liked what they heard so much, he was officially welcomed into the township fold when council voted to retain his services as a consultant to “assist the township as required in ongoing discussion with respect to potential boundary adjustments/annexation as it relates to the City of Barrie.”

Guergis thinks the experience and knowledge he earned from the Springwater Township amalgamation in 1994, and Barrie’s annexation of Innisfil land in 2009, will benefit today’s council.

“We went through a similar process of trying to understand what it was that was trying to be accomplished,” he said. “The conversations then are very relevant to the conversations today. Some of the same situations we were trying to resolve are still trying to be resolved through the exact same methods.

“A lot of the same sorts of things took place,” Guergis added.

Guergis was first elected as Springwater’s Ward 4 councillor in 2000. In 2003, he was acclaimed as deputy mayor. During that same term of office, he was appointed acting mayor when then-mayor John Brown developed health issues.

Brown returned as mayor in the next election, but died before the end of the term.

Guergis was voted mayor by a unanimous vote of Springwater council.

In 2006, Guergis was elected mayor.

In December 2006, he was acclaimed Simcoe County warden, which carried a one-year term. He was re-elected as Simcoe County warden in both 2007 and 2008.

His consultant role will tap into his experience as mayor only. 

Under the rules of the oath he took when he was mayor, he is allowed to share information heard at the township's closed-session meetings during his tenure with the current council. 

He’s not allowed to discuss information or insights gleaned from his time as warden as that was a separate office and the oath of that office precludes him from sharing any information he received during closed sessions of county council.

He believes the solution to the boundary expansion issue is having the county participate.

In fact, Guergis said, if Simcoe County had been involved from Day 1, he doesn't believe this would even be an issue.

“I think the county is the key,” he said. “I’ve said this before, I’ve seen the strategy work the county does. It’s tremendous work."

The wrinkle is that Barrie and Orillia are separated cities.

“Barrie and Orillia, they are geographically in the county, but if Barrie and Orillia were part of the county this wouldn’t be a county border issue," Guergis said. "It would be an internal boundary issue and perhaps could have been settled much easier internally — two mayors sitting at the table in a Simcoe County setting where everybody’s protected equally."

“Those issues probably could have been resolved and probably would have been addressed a long time ago under a county system, because the county feels the growth pressures and sees the needs through their studies," he added. 

Guergis said he realized the potential of having the county involved many years ago, when he was chair of the county’s growth plan.

“I saw the tremendous opportunity and I saw what the province saw — the opportunity for infrastructure to be shared, to be a solution for the municipalities,” he said. “At the time, and still today, every community goes to the province individually looking for money to build infrastructure. They don’t have it.

“From a provincial standpoint, if we can find a solution, it takes them off the hook,” he added.

Wayne Doyle, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

About the Author: Wayne Doyle, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Wayne Doyle covers the townships of Springwater, Oro-Medonte and Essa for BarrieToday under the Local Journalism Initiative (LJI), which is funded by the Government of Canada
Read more

Reader Feedback