Pickering Mayor Dave Ryan – the city’s longest-serving mayor – retiring from politics

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Published April 26, 2022 at 2:25 pm

The political landscape in Durham Region will look vastly different this November when new councils take their oath of office at the region’s eight municipal council chambers.

Perhaps none more so than the City of Pickering, which will be looking at a new mayor after Dave Ryan – Pickering’s longest-serving mayor – announced his retirement.

Ryan has spent the past 28 years in municipal politics in Pickering, including 19 as mayor. He announced Monday night that he would be retiring at the end of this term of office when the new Council is sworn in on November 21.

Ryan joins Scugog Mayor Bobbie Drew (31 years of public service, four as mayor) and Whitby Mayor Don Mitchell (28 years in politics, eight as mayor) on the sidelines for the coming elections.

Ryan took over as mayor from Wayne Arthurs – who had moved up to provincial politics – in 2003, just three years after Pickering had officially morphed from a ‘Town’ into a ‘City’ and has provided strong and steady leadership since then to help Pickering evolve from a little bedroom community of Toronto into a diverse and thriving independent city of nearly 100,000 people.

“It has been an absolute honour and privilege to serve the residents, businesses, community groups, and stakeholders of this great city.  Looking at Pickering’s evolution, I can’t help but marvel at all that we have accomplished together,” Ryan said in his message to his constituents. “Pickering is recognized as one of Ontario’s elite municipalities, and with that knowledge, I am choosing to step away from my role as mayor after this term so that I can focus exclusively on my health and most importantly, my family.”

During his mayoralty, Pickering has seen many key and transformational projects come into realization, including the Frenchman’s Bay Harbour Entrance reconstruction; a new Fire Headquarters; the world’s longest enclosed pedestrian bridge; Durham Live (which has already secured the City $7.8M in non-tax gaming revenue); the Seaton development; world-class businesses relocating to the Innovation Corridor; Canada’s largest filming backlot; Pickering Soccer Centre; the expansion of high-speed broadband across the city; the state-of-the art Operations Centre; the Durham College/Centennial College Joint Learning Centre; the Mayor’s Gala raising $2.6M for the Ajax-Pickering hospital; the Canadian Centre for Nuclear Sustainability; and the Jerry Coughlan Health & Wellness Centre, to name a few.

Ryan said the decision to retire was “not an easy decision to make.”

“My heart and soul is still fully invested in our community.  However, I am at peace with my decision to step down, as I am fully confident that my colleagues on Council, our CAO, and dedicated staff will continue the leading work we are doing in building a more modern, vibrant, progressive, and inclusive city.”

Ryan stepped away from politics at the beginning of the pandemic after he was diagnosed with Interstitial Lung Disease, or scarring of the lungs, but returned to his job later that year.

The decision not to run for re-election, however, is based more on a desire to spend more time with his children and grandchildren, he said.

“I have so many fond memories to look back on, but what truly made my time as mayor special was getting to know so many of you.  I have enjoyed all of our interactions, chats, discussions, and meetings that we’ve shared, whether it was in a boardroom, at a community event, shopping at a local store, or just out in the community. These wonderful moments are indelibly etched into my being.”

“From the bottom of my heart – thank you and God bless!”

Ryan has also penned a heartfelt ‘open letter to residents’, which can be read in the digital edition of Pickering’s Your City Magazine here.

Nominations to seek the Pickering Mayorship or any other seat in this year’s election opens May 2, with the final deadline to file your nomination papers August 18.

The municipal election will be held October 24.

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