In January, South Frontenac Council invited Harrowsmith resident Brad Barbeau to fill the vacancy on Council created by Councillor Bill Robinson’s death late last year. Barbeau had been a candidate in Portland district in the last municipal election, and was a close runner-up.
“There’s a lot of ‘catchup’ to do,” said Barbeau, in reference to having been dropped into Council halfway through its term; “and I’ve been told I’m a perfectionist.” He added that his fellow councillors have been helpful, both in bringing him up to speed on current issues, and occasionally adjusting what would usually be daytime committee meetings to accommodate his work schedule. In his mid-thirties, Barbeau is the youngest member of Council, and only he and Schjerning have full-time jobs and young families.
Barbeau grew up in Madoc, moving to South Frontenac just before entering his final year of high school in Sydenham. He went on to Queen’s, and now works there as senior management in the technology section of the School of Business. He left his “spare time” position as organist and interim choral director at St George’s when his first son was born, and is currently organist at St Paul’s in Sydenham, and teaches two computer courses at St Lawrence.
Barbeau’s interest in local politics has been with him for much of his life: he married his high school sweetheart, whose father was Reeve, and remembers growing up listening to community issues being discussed at the dinner table. He’s particularly committed to the importance of farming and preservation of farmland, and feels this does not preclude well-planned residential development. He spoke of the ‘interesting mix’ of South Frontenac residents with people who have been born and grown up here living beside recently-arrived “city folk”, and the challenges this presents in fostering a sense of community. He’s intrigued with the concept of a Heritage Committee, which might be a way of helping owners of older homes to access funds for upkeep and maintenance.