Close to a half-century of service to Burlingtonians is slowly coming to an end with the retirement of veteran councillors John Taylor and Rick Craven.
It’s notable that both went to school, so to speak, to prepare for their jobs, unlike some candidates who got themselves elected with no experience or even were acclaimed to office.
Taylor first was involved with a citizens group looking for market value assessment. He then started to attend committee and council meetings and got then-Councillor Barry Quinn to get him copies of council agendas, which he read regularly for a year before running for election.
Likewise, Craven was a regular attendee at council meetings before he was elected and was well known for his effective campaign strategy of standing at the corner of King Road and Plains Road with his sign and waving to potential voters.
Taylor was first elected in 1988 and has served the residents of Ward 3 for 30 years.
Between 1988 and 1997 he earned only $12,000 a year as a councillor. As he retires, the stipend for a councillor has soared to in the neighborhood of $100,000 annually.
“I never earned as much as a councillor as I would have if I have stayed with the pharmaceutical company I was working for,” he said.
In 1997 when he added regional council duties to his workload, he got an $18,000 wage hike to $30,000, which was still less than half of what he was making in the private sector.
“It was well past the year 2000 before I earned as much as I was making in 1993, the last year I held two jobs – working as a councillor and for a pharmaceutical company,” he said.
Taylor served under five mayors – Roly Bird, Walter Mulkewich, Rob MacIsaac, Cam Jackson and Rick Goldring. He was involved in nine elections.
Although much of his ward is made up of farmland, Taylor has lived in the Brant Hills community for 45 years.
He is proudest of playing a large role in stopping construction of the mid-provincial highway, which would have run through north Burlington.
“We took the provincial government to court and won,” he said. “It would have destroyed our rural area.”
Helping to obtain much improved recreation facilities like the Brant Hills community centre also is on his list of achievements.
In his retirement Taylor plans to be heavily involved with the Bethany Residence, which provides a home for people with longterm mental health issues
“It’s the largest domiciliary hostel in Halton, with 135 residents,” he said. “They’re beautiful people. We provided extra funding for them through the Region.”
He is endorsing Gareth Williams, former chair of the Sustainable Development Committee to succeed him as councillor for Ward 3.
Burlington is going to change,” he said. “It’s time to turn governments over to the next generation.”
Craven was first elected Burlington’s Ward 1 Councillor in the year 2000. He was subsequently re-elected four times, each with a solid majority, and was acclaimed once.
During that time he has worked with the the Aldershot Community Council, the Warwick Surrey Community Association, Partnering Aldershot, the Plains Road Village Vision Group (PRVV), the Compassion Society, the Aldershot Community Honour Roll and the Business Improvement Area (B.I.A.).
“Together, we have moved Aldershot in the right direction,” he said. “The completion of the interchange ramps at the 403 and Waterdown Road in 2010 opened Aldershot to new investment while significantly improving highway access for local residents. My thanks to former Mayor Rob MacIsaac for his partnership on this initiative.”
Craven also was heavily involved with construction of the King Road underpass which eliminated frustrating traffic backups for motorists at the railway crossing.
“Plains Road continues to improve,” he said. “Remember the year 2000? We had 11 used car lots and 7 abandoned gas station sites on our main street! Today we see examples of improved architecture with buildings like the library, Dovercourt condominium, LaSalle Retirement Home and the Jazz.
“We enjoy better streetscaping with more benches and wider sidewalks. Nicer landscaping includes new trees and gardens. Pedestrian activity has improved with three new north/south crosswalks.”
Craven has been campaigning for the election of Judy Worsley to replace him, but the race is wide open with a record 11 candidates entered.
“The most important thing that I have learned in the past 18 years is that Aldershot retains its unique sense of identity and that we continue to care for one another,” he said.