Charlie McDonald chosen as deputy mayor for 2024

By Lindsay Advocate

Outgoing Deputy Mayor Tracy Richardson handed the reins to incoming Deputy Mayor Charlie McDonald at the December 12 2023 council meeting.

At the December 12, 2023 council meeting, council heard from outgoing Deputy Mayor, Tracy Richardson, on her term during 2023.

Richardson began by thanking Mayor Elmslie for his support and the opportunities provided to her, and the support of all councillors, noting that 2023 was a ‘whirlwind’ year. There were many provincial and federal changes to adapt to, and councillors needed to continuously educate themselves and work alongside staff to find solutions. The teambuilding event at BGC Kawarthas was a highlight and helped enrich council’s appreciation of the organization while learning about each other in the process.

Richardson enjoyed seeing many projects come to fruition, such as major investments in roads, community halls and parks to positively impact residents’ lives.

The Deputy Mayor decides on a focus each year, and Deputy Mayor Richardson championed the ‘Did You Know’ project over the summer. The goals of the project were to educate, engage and learn from community members how they want to receive information and how they feel about customer service provided by the municipality.

“I was thrilled with the level of engagement from more than 500 residents regarding the value of the video series. I also heard that folks are in the mindset to learn more and engage. We have the tools already, we just need to remind people how to access the tools. Once they Jump In, they will be better informed, and we’ll be stronger with more opinions being exchanged,” commented Richardson.

The customer service and communications strategies are being informed by the ‘Did You Know’ public input and will come to council in early 2024.

Richardson closed by speaking about the Missing Children’s Society of Canada (MCSC) Rescu App, an initiative of particular importance to her. “We are the first municipality in Ontario to adopt and rollout the app. Together with our first responders, we had a strong public education campaign. Just this past September, a Lindsay resident recognized two teenagers from an alert in the app, and her call resulted in their safe return home. This is priceless. I encourage everyone if you haven’t downloaded the app, do it today. In closing, to my fellow councillors: some days in this role aren’t easy, because people aren’t as respectful as they used to be. Keep on doing great work and do not let others define who you are. One year down, three to go. We will be challenged with the pending growth but we are staying out front and helping our residents grow with us.”

Mayor Elmslie and council showed their appreciation with a round of applause. Councillor Charlie McDonald, Ward 7, was elected as the Deputy Mayor for 2024. A lifelong resident and business owner in Kawartha Lakes, McDonald is known to many through his involvement with the Terry Fox Run. He is serving his first term on council and noted:

“I’m very passionate about Kawartha Lakes and want the best for the community. I’ve learned a lot this past year, and I understand there’s a lot more to learn. It’s a hard act to follow after Tracy Richardson, with her compassion and dedication. My mission is to continue serving as a champion for the rollout of the short term rentals program. As chair of the task force that brought the program together, I believe these rentals are an important part of our economy, but they need to respect year round residents. The rollout will be important and we’ll start 2024 strong. In October 2024, Kawartha Lakes will host the International Plowing Match. This is a great opportunity to support our newly revitalized downtowns. Let’s show off everything we have to offer from tourism to business opportunities. My third focus is to continue the Did You Know approach to ensure communication and customer service remains at the forefront. Residents have shown us they appreciated it and are looking for more ways to stay engaged. I’m looking forward to the year ahead.”

Watch the meeting on the Kawartha Lakes YouTube channel.


  1. A correction. Charlie McDonald was acclaimed, not elected. Clerk Cathie Ritchie disqualified another nomination because the counsellor who was going to put it forth was participating via Zoom.

    Past DM Richardson did her best to satisfy the CAO’s customer service (digitization) strategic plan, the same plan that Mayor Elmslie promised to fulfill during his 2022 campaign, but while the front-line staff customer service delivery is almost always letter-perfect, customer service by upper management and directors leaves something to be desired.

    At the launch of The Social, when I suggested to some residents that roads remain the top priority for the City, they corrected me and said, “Oh no, it’s customer service”. One company owner said they have had to hire a lawyer to navigate customer service with the City because it is just that difficult.

    So DM McDonald has his work cut out for him to try to further satisfy CAO Ron Taylor’s management directive to create the optic that customer service, especially its digitization, is satisfying residents.

    Good luck, Deputy Mayor McDonald!

    At a recent town hall event on December 6, hosted by Councillor Ashmore, several residents openly complained that the appointment (it is supposed to be an election but the perception is widely held that it is an appointment) of deputy mayors is unfair. They wanted to know why the City of Kawartha Lakes does not adopt a rotating deputy mayor protocol, as was the practice of former Mayor Ric McGee and as is practiced by many other municipalities in Ontario, so each councillor has the opportunity to experience the roles and develop the skills associated with the position and so that the residents of each ward in the City benefit from their representative being in the role.

    Earlier this year, I started an online petition for this but as there were not enough signatures to support it by the time I needed them, I withdrew it. Maybe it is time for someone else to start a similar petition, get enough signatures to support the idea, and bring it to council for consideration. Councillors with previous experience serving as deputy mayor, as Ron Ashmore has under Mayor McGee’s tenure, do not need the experience as much perhaps as new councillors do, and he told his constituents he certainly would not lose sleep if not elected deputy mayor, but fairness matters in a democracy and there may be growing support for rotating deputy mayor appointments.

  2. RAY HARVEY says:

    I do not support the agenda that this city is taking on..
    They seem to be on their own path and not realizing that work for us and outside forces..

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