News Local

Head, Clara, Maria mayor suddenly resigns

By Sean Chase, The Daily Observer

Submitted photo
Head, Clara, Maria Mayor Jim Gibson was first acclaimed to council in 2000. He was elected mayor in 2014. On July 13, he submitted his resignation from council effectively immediately.

Submitted photo Head, Clara, Maria Mayor Jim Gibson was first acclaimed to council in 2000. He was elected mayor in 2014. On July 13, he submitted his resignation from council effectively immediately.

 

Jim Gibson has suddenly resigned as the mayor of Head, Clara, Maria leaving the County of Renfrew with two of its municipalities now rudderless.

The 73-year-old mayor notified staff last Thursday with a one-sentence letter indicating he was stepping down immediately. However, it wasn't the only resignation to rock the council. Soon after, Councillor Debbi Grills gave up her seat citing personal reasons.

The township of 235 residents has no deputy mayor leaving the incumbent councillors, Dave Foote, Robert Reid and Calvin Chartrand to decide what their next course of action will be at a special meeting on Thursday at the Stonecliffe Community Centre.

Clerk Melinda Reith said Monday that council will formally declare the two seats vacant at the meeting and review their options. With only 16 months left in the current term, they could call a special byelection or appoint a new mayor and councillor.

This is the second resignation of a Renfrew County mayor in the past two weeks. Brudenell, Lyndoch, Raglin Mayor Garry Gruntz stepped down on July 5, however, he had previously announced he was not running for re-election. Gibson could not be reached for comment. The North Renfrew Times posted a brief statement from the former mayor on their Facebook page.

“This was one of the hardest decisions I have ever made,” the statement read. “I am 73 years old and still of relatively sound mind and body although some may challenge either, or indeed both, of those assertions. I am running out of time to do many of the things in life that I still wish to do while in good health, so something had to give.”

A resident of Stonecliffe, Gibson had been acclaimed to Head, Clara, Maria Township council in 2000 after retiring as manager of the Ontario Power Generation station at Des Joachims in Rolphton. He was elected mayor in 2014 defeating then incumbent Tammy Stewart. Renfrew County Warden Jennifer Murphy said she did not see this resignation coming.

“It was a complete shock,” she said Monday.

County council will holding a special meeting next week to discuss tax rates minus a representative from both Head, Clara, Maria and Brudenell, Lyndoch, Raglin. Their next regular session is in August. Murphy said she personally liked Gibson and felt he contributed to the overall discussion at the upper tier.

“Jim has been extremely outspoken. He's been a champion for some causes,” Murphy added. “He will be missed. He's a great character.”

Gibson served as a member of the operations and health committees. During his brief tenure at County council, he lobbied vigorously against overreaching provincial regulations concerning septic tanks and pushed for council to adopt a non-denominational prayer by amending the procedural bylaw.

One of the biggest issues he had to tackle was the cancellation of an extrication agreement between the Township of Head, Clara and Maria, the Township of Laurentian Hills and the Town of Deep River. This left a 30-kilometre stretch of Highway 17 extending from Laurentian Hills Township and Bissett Creek without heavy extrication services in the event of a serious motor vehicle accident. Gibson last public appearance was on Canada Day when he presided over the buring of a time capsule marking Canada's sesquicentennial.

SChase@postmedia.com