Voters will have to choose another mayor

First elected to South Dundas council in 2006, Steven Byvelds served as South Dundas municipal councillor until the death of Charles Barkley in 2009. Byvelds was then appointed to the deputy mayor seat for the remainder of the term, which also sent him to SDG Counties council. In 2010 he was elected to his first term as mayor and served as SDG Warden in 2011. In 2014 he was unsuccessful in his bid for re-election. In 2018 Byvelds was elected to his second term as South Dundas mayor which he announced will be his last. He will not seek re-election. (The Leader/Blancher photo)

MORRISBURG – Monday, May 2, the nomination period for the October 24 municipal election opened and the first formal announcement here in South Dundas was made at 8:30 a.m. by sitting South Dundas mayor Steven Byvelds.

“I am here to announce that I will not be running for mayor or council for the next term,” Byvelds told a group of reporters gathered at the Morrisburg waterfront for the “non-nomination” announcement.

“Lots of things have happened in the past four years that have shown me that it was time,” said Byvelds. “I wanted to say this early, to let people know right away what I’m doing.”

“I turned 60 two years ago and, for me, it made me think of what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. I have two wonderful granddaughters that will be turning three this month. I have turned over the reins of the farm to my son Andrew and Debbie and I have recently purchased a vacation property. So, with all that happening, I have decided that my political career is over and it’s time to devote more time to family and other things.”

Asked by The Leader how difficult it was to make this decision, Byvelds did not hesitate to say – “It wasn’t.”

“It’s been a good time,” Byvelds added.

“I got this feeling that if I ran again and won, I would get into year one and wish I hadn’t. That’s not fair to the residents.”

Byvelds went on to say: “I would like to thank the residents of South Dundas for their support, starting in 2006 when I ran for council, until now as I finish this term as mayor. It was certainly an interesting time of my life and through it, I met many more people than I would have in any other way. I know more about how a municipality operates and all the politics that come with being on council. I will always cherish being the Mayor of South Dundas for eight years along with being Warden of SDG in 2011. It was a privilege having done so and I would like to thank the residents who supported me in all that time.”

“I need to thank others. First, all the councillors I worked with, especially the ones I am currently working with, either here in South Dundas or SDG. They have been a pleasure to work with and get to know. I would like to thank all the staff I worked with. And I want to thank Debbie for allowing me to give time to South Dundas-SDG along with my son Andrew.”

“It’s been a great ride,” said Byvelds.

Looking back, Byvelds talked about how the council of the previous term floundered leaving South Dundas lagging behind in many facets including: infrastructure, landfill, economic development including tourism, and basically a failure to communicate with residents.

While this council has worked to rectify some of this, according to Byvelds more high priced work will have to be done in areas such as the landfill. This council was forced to close the Williamsburg landfill at a huge cost, do a small expansion at Matilda and look ahead to having it be a transfer station.

As a group, this council has worked hard at bringing more economic development along with expanding tourism opportunities to South Dundas.

“We have continued to work on customer service and communication to ensure that the residents get and know of the services available to them,” said Byvelds.

“I have said ‘we’ a lot as it was not only me as mayor but council and staff that got us to where we are today. I also represented South Dundas on the SDG Council and worked with the council and staff to work for the betterment of SDG along with ensuring South Dundas got its fair share of infrastructure, economic development and all the other things that SDG-Cornwall are responsible for.”

Although Byvelds did take some time to reflect on this term to date, he did acknowledge that there are still six month left in his term as mayor.

“I will continue to do what I have done for the past three and a half years – listen to your concerns and continue to lead South Dundas and your council and staff. We have done a lot of work early this year to catch up but there is still work to be done and I will work hard to get as much done as we practically can.”

What Byvelds is most proud of in this term is how the council has worked at “turning the ship around and getting things done.”

Looking to the future for South Dundas, Byvelds said: “Today (May 2) is the first day people can put their name forward for the ninth council of South Dundas along with the two seats at Counties Council. I encourage those who think they have something to give South Dundas-SDG to do so.”

The Municipalities of SDG are hosting a Candidate Information meeting on May 12 at 6 p.m. in Long Sault. “I encourage all those interested in running for election this fall to attend. I also encourage the residents of South Dundas to ask hard questions and vote for a council that will continue the hard work that has been done so far. I believe we have come a long way and I know, with the right council, we can continue to do so going into 2023.”

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