Pickering facilities to be re-named to honour former mayors


Published April 25, 2024 at 11:21 am

wayne arthurs
Wayne Arthurs at the re-election of Dave Ryan as Mayor of Pickering in 2014

Life is a lot more relaxed for long-time Pickering m,ayor and provincial parliamentarian Wayne Arthurs since he stepped away from the hustle and bustle of political life 13 years ago.

The demands of public life have long since melted away, to be replaced by golden sands under his feet, ocean breezes on his shoulder and the aromas of s’mores by the campfire as he and his wife of 54 years, Susan, spend their winters cruising the seven seas or exploring the warmer climes south of the border and their summers at the family cottage.

As the late Gord Downie wrote, It’s a Good Life If You Don’t Weaken and Arthurs, who will be honoured by the City of Pickering – along with a posthumous honour for his predecessor as mayor, John E. (Jack) Anderson – with a yet-to-be-determined public facility naming later this year, is feeling strong.

“It has been more than a decade since I retired from elected office,” said the happily retired and still fit-as-a-fiddle Arthurs, 75, from somewhere in Arizona. “Susan and I have enjoyed warmer winters, travelling and family time during summers at our cottage. We have been fortunate, and we have embraced these ‘golden years.’”

Susan and Wayne Arthurs

Arthurs’ legacy in Pickering, along with that of Anderson, who served 16 years on council, including the last 11 as mayor from 1972-1988, will be celebrated sometime in the third quarter of 2024 when the City names a pair of new or unnamed city properties in their honour.

Their records while in office in Pickering for both Arthurs and Anderson were cited in the motion – approved by Pickering Council Monday – to commemorate the former mayors.

“Wayne Arthurs forged an exciting and meaningful legacy that is defined by vision, growth in City services and amenities,” the motion read. “His influence and leadership has seen Pickering evolve from a town to a city in 2000, the expansion of the new Seaton community and into an evolving community in which to live, work and play. His vision, hard work, and planning set the stage for Pickering’s emerging presence in Durham Region and the Greater Toronto Area.”

“Transformational” projects at City Hall and Esplanade Park, on Pickering’s waterfront and in community infrastructure and at the Ajax-Pickering Hospital were also among the achievements accomplished during his tenure in mayor.

Arthurs, who was a phys-ed teacher and guidance counsellor before entering politics in 1982, was a ward councillor until winning the race for mayor six years later, defeating former mayor and Conservative MPP George Ashe (father of current Pickering Mayor Kevin Ashe) in 1988.

He served 15 years in the post before running for a seat at Queen’s Park and was elected as the Liberal representative for Pickering-Ajax in 2003. He was re-elected (now Pickering-Scarborough-East) in 2007 before announcing his retirement four years later.

John E. (Jack) Anderson

Anderson, who died three years ago at the age of 91, won the race for mayor in 1977 and led the town during explosive suburban growth and was “instrumental” in laying the foundation for the Town Centre as a commercial, institutional, recreational, and residential precinct.

“He saw the Pickering Recreation Complex from concept to completion and the Civic Complex was under construction at the time of his retirement,” the motion read. Known as a family man with a “great sense of humour” who was also a hard worker, “his influence and leadership saw Pickering evolve and grow as a suburban, residential community.”

Arthurs was “most appreciative” of Council’s considerations of his and Anderson’s services. As to what building or property would work, he cited a controversial campaign floated during his tenure to get Ajax to join Pickering in a mega city, and with a smile on his lips and his tongue firmly in cheek, suggested “Arthursville. If they can convince Ajax to join in.”

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