Bill Vrebosch Sr. - A DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE

About Bill

Bill is born and raised in the City of North Bay.  


His wife Gisele (Gravelle) was born and raised in Corbeil. They have been married for 41 years. They have recently relocated to North Bay as their house outgrew them. They have downsized and moved to the ONR building on Oak St East.  


Bill and Gisele have 4 children, Lisa, Louise, Billy and Tanya. Gisele worked in the family business, Gravelle's Meat Market, for almost her entire life. Bill told Gisele that 5 years after they were married that he would run for politics in some capacity. In 1976, 5 years after they were married, Bill ran for council in East Ferris where he topped the polls and became the first Deputy Mayor for East Ferris. He went on to succeed Paul Rochefort as Mayor and continued as Mayor and Deputy Mayor in East Ferris for the last 40 years.  


Realizing that East Ferris could not exist alone, Bill sought provincial seats on the Association for Municipalities of Ontario Executive and the Rural Caucus. He has been successfully elected to the board since the late 90's.  


Bill worked in banking and finance prior to joining the Nipissing District Catholic School Board. He taught music to over 17,000 kids in the Nipissing District over 30 years.  


You may also have known Bill with his band Bill Vrebosch and the Descendants of Tyme.  They produced records called Cara Mia and Duke the Toque (North Bay Winter Carnival Theme Song).  


Bill's grandfather and father, worked for the TNO and ONR since the 1900s. They lived in the East End of North Bay where Bill grew up.   


Bill has a University Degree in Social Sciences and Population Geography.  


Before living in Corbeil, Bill and Gisele lived in North Bay in West Ferris. Bill understands what it means to work hard. He worked his full time job as a teacher, took courses towards his degrees and then worked 6 nights a week with his band in order to make a living to support his wife and children.  


Interesting Facts 


1. Over 40 years of Royal Canadian Legion Membership 

2. Listed as a Veteran with over 7 years of service with the Two Field Engineers Military Reserves 

3. One of the founding members of the Nipissing Country Music Association and Singing Contest 

4. Member of the North Bay Country Music Association Hall of Fame and the North Bay Hall of Recognition 

5. Played old timer fastball for many years 

6. Called the first meeting of the East Ferris Golden Age Club and because of his work in East Ferris has had Bill Vrebosch Children's park named after him 

7. The population of East Ferris grew from 1,800 people to well over 5,000 during his term on council with East Ferris

Experience

 I have over 40 years of local municipal experience as the Mayor and Deputy Mayor of East Ferris and over 20 years of provincial experience as the Chair of ROMA and as a Rural Caucus Member. 


I was recently re-elected to the Association of Municipalities Rural Caucus in Ottawa. I have also been elected as Zone 9 Representative for ROMA serving municipalities from Gravenhurst to Moosonee and Manitoba since 1999. All of my experience with these boards has been fundamental in my political knowledge. They give me the opportunity to lobby higher levels of government on issues that matter to East Ferris and North Bay. In addition, they provide invaluable access to municipal resources and information across the province.  


I’ve always worked hard to make people feel comfortable with contacting me if they have a problem or a suggestion.  Politicians aren’t your enemy, we’re here to go to meetings, study issues, get advice and make decisions on your behalf. I have always been guided by my conscience. That’s why I’ve always worked using principles such as honesty, integrity and fiscal responsibility as my guide. 

Political Hot Topics

Economic Development 


North Bay is the geographical centre of Ontario. In less than 4 hours you could be anywhere in Ontario, except the extremities. North Bay is the “4 Corners of Ontario.”  


We have to respect the College and University as they are our largest employers. Their coordination in producing skilled workers for the industry of North Bay is integral. 


The image of North Bay is not getting out there. We are still being confused with that other town that is 12 hours to the west. 


We need to also look at having a District Plan. If Mattawa has successes, it’s good for North Bay. If Powassan does well, it’s good for North Bay. If North Bay does well, the region does well. North Bay is the functional node of the District. We need North Bay to be seen as a strong centre in the District of Nipissing and we need to work together with our regional partners. That means we all win. 


People draw jobs. You have to create a new positive image for the city that will draw people to it. One of the biggest problems we have is the lack of population and population retention. We need to protect what we have and create a positive image. I see that in some ways this trend is reversing. Many people my children’s ages are coming back to North Bay, or at least looking to come back. The negative attitudes that have been put forth in the last few years have to change. If we have healthy existing businesses, they will help attract new ancillary businesses to the City. The word will get out that this is GOOD place to live and set up your business. We have to support the people in our community who are committed to making it better and building it up. 


Many businesses are started with an idea in general conversation. The Chamber can be a definite ally in their monthly informal gatherings. 


We have one of the largest runways in Canada. Our airport Industrial Park is starting to gain international recognition and we need to build on this momentum. 


Infrastructure 


A program for infrastructure renewal is important to any city. Without renewal you will eventually have to replace which is much more costly. Infrastructure is basically like a greased poll, if you stop, you won't stay where you are, you will slide backwards. 


Many focus on roads and bridges but we forget about water and sewer, playgrounds, arenas, city buildings and lately emergencies caused by climate change. Where we had a 30 inch culvert, we may have to put a 40 inch culvert. 


The recent water floods in Toronto show that you need to reinvest in your infrastructure. They are trying to put 3 million people on a system meant for 1 million. You can't expand without looking after your infrastructure. 


Arts, Culture and Heritage 


Bill has been involved in arts and culture for his entire life, mainly through the music industry. He taught over 17,000 kids how to play an instrument during his teaching career. He understands the value of arts and culture in the total development of a person. 


The Capitol Centre is a true gem for the City of North Bay. It has one of the best acoustic sounds that many communities are envious of. This centre needs to be supported and maintained by the community. 


I support City Council's decision to financially recognize the Discovery North Bay Museum. Between the museum and the Municipal Heritage Committee we need to preserve and protect the history of North Bay 


Quality of Life 


When Bill was a child, the North Bay waterfront was cinders, broken glass and garbage. With the assistance from the Heritage Gardeners, Goulais's Golden Mile is a showpiece for visitors. 


The Kate Paceway, the North Bay Public Library, the Capitol Centre, Canadore, Nipissing etc. all contribute to the amenities that make North Bay a great place to live. 


Tourism 


We should be pushing the fact that North Bay is within 4 hours of all of Ontario except the extremities. The Baylor report illustrates that North Bay's image and location is not evident and getting out to the rest of Ontario or the World. 


The recent successes of the Women’s Curling have proven that Sports Tourism is a definite avenue that we should be promoting. We have an excellent ambassador in Larry Tougas who is very skilled in this field 


Environment


Our landfill is our most important asset.  If you lose your landfill at this point in time, you will never get another.  When you recycle everyone benefits because you protect the environment and you also extend the life of the landfill.


Active transportation is a very strong part of the environment.  We need to continue to encourage people to get out of the house and use our beautiful trails.  


The Heritage Gardeners have made our waterfront a beautiful place to visit.


You need to tag team with other groups and agencies.  People that may not wish to run for council but have a lot to offer with their knowledge and expertise when it comes to the environment.