UPDATED: Lakeland Ridges’ new mayor ready for the challenges

by | May 8, 2024

Leonard Foster believes council members ‘had time to reflect’

Lakeland Ridge residents elected Leonard Foster as its new mayor and the man to take the helm as the entire council returns from suspension. 

The Green Mountain resident admits he’s unsure of the timing and process leading to his new role, but he’s confident he and council can chart a positive direction. 

Foster will replace former Mayor Tanya Cloutier, who resigned while the entire council was under suspension. Ward 4 Councillors Mark Grant and Mike Furrow also resigned. 

Dustin Craig Buckingham, the only candidate for the Ward 4 seats, won by acclamation. 

Foster said his first step is to update himself on municipal issues and plans. 

“Basically, I’ll find out what has been happening,” he said. 

Foster explained he would get more information about the issues from departing superintendent Steve Manuel and Lakeland Ridges staff. 

He said he briefly talked with CAO Suzie Patterson on Tuesday following his May 6 election win.  

Less than a week before the byelection, the Department of Local Government announced that the province would lift the council’s suspension. Under the new mayor’s guidance, council members will return to active duty effective May 15. 

The province suspended the Lakeland Ridges mayor and council and appointed a superintendent to oversee the rural community operation in July 2023. Over that time, the department replaced the supervisor three times. The current supervisor will return the community’s governance to the council on May 15. 

In the race for mayor, Foster defeated challengers, former Meductic Mayor Lance Graham and Eric Cummings. 

Foster earned 229 votes, to Graham’s 181 and Cummings’ 148. 

While he recognizes he’ll be stepping into a challenging situation, Foster said he ran to make a positive difference. 

He believes council members can correct the issues that led to the suspension and expects them to learn from the experience. 

“Everyone had time to reflect,” Foster said. 

The new mayor said his years chairing a non-profit board provided experience in building consensus. He said he’s learned over the years that people have more in common than differences, but sometimes, those differences get amplified. 

“Sometimes you have to agree to disagree,” Foster said. 

“Council essentially runs the show,” Foster said, adding it’s the mayor’s job to guide council members and work with staff to fulfill their wishes. 

He said the mayor’s job is to steer the ship rather than chart the course. 

Foster said he knows most of the current council members and welcomes Buckingham’s addition. He also said he knows the new Ward 4 councillor well and describes him as devoted to his community. 

The Lakeland Ridges Rural Community Council will return to office short one council seat in Ward 4. 

Foster acknowledged Lakeland Ridges consists of several dynamic communities with diverging interests, but he believes all residents want the best for the entire region. He said part of his role is to get everyone pulling together. 

Foster stressed the importance of communication and transparency, noting Lakeland Ridges residents need to be informed. 

“We have to ensure everyone out there is kept up to date,” he said. 

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