Today on the Elora Fergus Podcast, I'm talking with Mary Lloyd! She is a Wellington County Councillor and local business owner.
Mary Lloyd is the owner of Sensational You located downtown Fergus and Wellington County Councillor for Ward Five. She is a well-known leader who has dedicated a lifetime to the betterment of our community.
So, where does her spark come from? Mary suspects it might be a trait passed onto her from her a father and mother. Listen now to hear why!
I really enjoyed this chat with Mary Lloyd and I know you will too!
Listen Here: Mary Lloyd on Elora Fergus Podcast
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Audio Transcription for Episode 14 with Mary Lloyd
Ryan Joyce: I, well, I imagine this, um, virtual space, uh, meeting in such as now, part of your everyday kind of protocol being on
Mary Lloyd: Well, it's interesting Ryan that you bring that up. My church meets this way on a few different levels, but County council, your conference calls. We have areas in the County that do not have high speed. Well, I shouldn't say high speed but have very unreliable internet. So, um, we can't use video chatting or calling with any of our meetings. We have to use the teleconference because we're thinking about now, I'm talking about places like North Wellington at home, Aaron at home, um, the Mapleton and Minto participants they've got in their office. Sometimes they have high speed and that's fine, but they shouldn't have to be forced to go to their office to do that. Like, and I mean, there may Oriel office and then of course the counsellors as well from their homes. So we're all teleconference,
Ryan Joyce: Wow. That I was not expecting. And that's very interesting and makes a whole lot of sense now that you explained it. I figured there's going to be a lot of these aha moments on our conversation because I mean, truthfully, you are so connected within the community and have been as long as I've known you and I've known you since, well, I went to high school with your daughter, so I've known you a long time. And, uh, I, so I'm really curious if we can, before we go into all of the stuff that you've done and do in the community, our focus local,
Mary Lloyd: No, I moved here in 1986. I was born and raised in a little place with two exits on the four Oh one called Tilbury. And, uh,
Ryan Joyce: My brain is trying to search and I think that's like, as at like Stratford Tillsonburg.
Mary Lloyd: No, well, that's actually after Chatham and before Windsor. Oh, okay. Oh four Oh one corridor. Wow. And it was a small town, uh, only about, I'd say 4,000 people. And I lived there. Uh, my dad was the principal of the public school for 43 years in that area. So the year that he retired, which was 1974, so a year I started high school. So, you know, I grew up with that whole thing. Your dad is Mark and your exams and you're getting A's because, and all that stuff. Wow. But my whole goal was on high school and now I'm finally waiting for my dad. And then didn't he run for a public school trustee.
So that actually, that was my first experience with someone, uh, with, uh, running for an elected position was my father, my brother. So where he lived in his small community, he was a counsellor at one point, my husband and I, we met when I was 17. And some of the first things we ever did was go to political rallies for candidates. I don't know if I should be saying the parties, but anyway, I have the great distinction of shaking John PreK chance. And I have shaken, um, Michael Harris, his hands, um, I've like I've I've. We started at a time when we were both younger and wanting to take a real interest in our local government and provincial and federal. We are conservative. I shouldn't say that. I saw, I'm proud proudly friends with Ted and Lisa Arnott and Michael and Carrie Chung. But, uh, aside from that, I've always been interested in that political realm. There's been that kind of in my life since high school.
Ryan Joyce: Do you think that this leadership trait is genetic or is this just through us?
Mary Lloyd: Hmm, that's a good question. My dad was always a leader and my mom, while she in my lifetime never worked, she always said is like the head of this church committee or the head of that church committee, or, you know, like, uh, in her different world where she was doing her volunteer work. Yeah. She would take those leadership roles. I think, I would say it's not so much political as it is community-minded when you are involved in the community. I, I EcoWatch my parents, even before that point fundraises to put an arena in town or a pool in town. And so when you grow up with that happening, you get used to your parents not being home. And I know that our children never saw us hardly at home, and they're really happy about that, but we were just really active in the fundraising world and then created jobs out of it. That's that was our first independent business was, um, fundraising. Right.
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Ryan Joyce: Anyway. And are you speaking about Ralph when I graduated, you all gave a little donation, a gift my way and support and that I never forgot that. I mean, this is now 20 years ago. And so when we, yeah, and we toured across Canada and I put your name in the program and all of those, those places. Cause I mean, that was a big, a big thing for someone like me. So write out of the gate, I was impacted by these, that would have been probably some small little gesture in your world, but in my world, that was massive. And so it really had a lasting impression on me.
Mary Lloyd: and well, I also think that we've had the great distinction of the service clubs that we've been part of to help I'll use Dean Adobe's name, for example, a young lady getting involved in lacrosse, which is primarily a male sport. It is female, but we don't have female teams. And my husband's service club giving a donation to help her advance. And, and I mean, she's won national titles and is really high up in her lacrosse experience, helping Patrick Anderson with no money for wheelchair basketball. Some of the things that we've done haven't always been the big, bold gifts of sizable amounts, but they've been thoughtful amounts to people who really need just a little hand up to get where they need to be.
Ryan Joyce: That's I, I remember, I don't remember the words of the slogan, but I remember the slogan being very impacted. What is the slogan of Ralph Basset on the, on the business card. I remember this. Oh, okay. He was giving just a little boost up or a little Pat on the back or something. Well, yeah, it's kind of based on dogs, right? Yeah. And that's named after our dog. And I remember seeing the pile print on the business card and everything. Yeah, really. So what are some of the,
Did you hear Episode 13 with Jackie Ranahan? Listen here
Mary Lloyd: So some of our clients have been everything from the Scottish festival, Fergus Scottish festival, the Allura festival singers. Uh, I worked on their program that was called the seniors in schools program. And it was a funded program that allowed, I would say eight, eight to 10 voices along with, uh, Noel Edison at the time. And we would go into the classrooms and help a music class and we'd give them a whole day of tutoring with that level of, uh, experience in there. It was a fantastic experience. I loved watching the kids react and respond to know, to know he so generous with his praise and encouragement to help these young kids move along. Cause many of them were in like the core of their school. It was just a really cool experience. We've also, we, we laughed. Um, when we set out our goals, as we started our business, we wanted to work with the big things in Centre Wellington at that time. And we wanted to work with Theatre on the Grand and we did, which was a for-profit Theatre company. They allow our festival singers and we did and enjoyed our time with them and with the Fergus Scottish Festival. And we did and enjoyed our time with them. And you know, when you set a goal like that and you achieve it, you think, okay, well, I'm done now.
There's always someone else that needs a, an extra helping hand. And I did a lot of work in the charitable fundraising for radio stations. So there's a series of Christian radio stations that I helped or CK KWR over in Kitchener, which is the longest non- profit radio station in Canada it's and I think it's one of the very first that was ever formed, you know, working with organizations like that, people who want to volunteer and being able to help them raise the money to keep the signal warm. This is a very, uh, rewarding experience. I've worked for festival vets, Ontario. I've done
Ryan Joyce: Different things. You're certainly to keep busy! I would love to know what you would label the secret of these relationships. What is it is working a
Mary Lloyd: Willingness, a willingness to help them, right? Like they need help. And we had to feel a willingness that we wanted to help them. Cause there's no sense getting involved with an organization if you don't believe in their mandate or their goals or the people who are working with them or any of that stuff. Right? Like, unless you feel that, forget it go home. And so now you're, you're Councillor of ward five. So let's start there with exactly is ward five. So it is on the Northside of the Grand River. It is everything from Joan's baseline, which is a, it's actually known in town in the town of Fergus as a street. So Archer street all the way up to come, not corner through Jones baseline. So it kind of takes a little deep there, but not very much. And it goes all the way across bypasses Elma Elma is my little cutout and then over to the border of Waterloo and then down there, like the region of Waterloo and then down from there to actually it's known as County Road 18, which is the one that runs past the Raceway.
So it's a lot of people for, so what is the region? Let's also say blisters, you worked for the County of Wellington. And so our local area has our BIS and then we have our Township and then we have the County that's right. So in Centre and Wellington, we actually have three County counsellors and one Mayor that's involved. So Mayor Kelly Linton is currently sitting as the worm and we have Diane Ballantine and she is on the Southside of the river and she actually doesn't go as far over to water. Do I believe I might be wrong, but she goes to as far as Bellwood, but because of the number of people on, in our area, uh, in my area specifically, uh, Steven O'Neill, who is from Arthur, he represents his little area, um, of Centre Wellington is kind of, as I said, from guard shore out to Bellwood and then up in, in, into Arthur Mount forest area.
So, so it's kinda nice that we have three representatives to the table and an engineer. Um, there are 16 of us altogether but are the largest populated area in the County where we sit. We have, um, a lot of County bridges, a lot of County roads. We have, uh, two transfer stations, Laura and Bellwood, you know, so we have multiple things. We have three library branches in our three of them are in mind, already in my ward and what amazing, amazing ones they are. Yeah, they are, we're really lucky to have three. And then we have a terrace to the board and we have the museum that's in my ward. So what kinds of things deal with on like, if you were to boil down your month, let's say to you, okay. So I sit on an Apple, I am the chair of what's called the information, heritage and seniors.
So information is libraries. Heritage is museum and seniors as Wellington Terrace. So I'm the chair of that committee. And we meet the second Wednesday of the month and discuss all those and the library board. Actually, it's very interesting in the province of Ontario, the library board is a separate entity. While we receive a lot of funding from the County to operate the libraries. We are our own board and we have four citizen members on our board as well, as well as the counsellors of myself. And then on the second Thursday of the month, the committee that I'm on is called land division and planning. So if a farmer wants to divide his property up into different segments, they apply for that permission through the County to do that, or even in the Township or in any of the townships, in any of the County that all comes to that committee.
And then land planning is emergency management, the green legacy program, the trails system that we have, it also is the official plan of the County. So where is Groves going to happen and how is it going to happen? And all that stuff. It all sits within that organization of the land planning. But as a council representative, I also sit on the Groves Hospital Foundation board, and my committee is building. So we're excited because we're almost in the building, but as the Hospital board is moving towards an amalgamated board of the three hospitals that we have in Wellington County, there will be some changes coming forward through all of that. But at right now I'm the appointee that sits on that committee. So from the County, so it's pretty exciting times in Centre world, just that Hospital impact alone. Really. I know everyone listening understands, but yeah, well I'm very blessed, Ryan. Um, I also, as a Township Councillor was appointed on the board of the Hospital. So I've now been serving on that board for 11 years. So I go through all of this process, it's been horrendous. Brenda's huge. I've gotten a chance to chat with a couple of people, uh, Laurie Arsenault and Jackie both heavily involved as well. And you know, the stories are not even all of them made it to the podcast, but just the journey to get there of the ups and downs. And here it is
Ryan Joyce: Because it means they keep saying 10 years, but it's longer than 10 years.
Mary Lloyd: I think originally when the first fundraising happened as a community member, I watched it as the redevelopment plan. And when the redevelopment wasn't an, an able, it couldn't happen where it was because of the, I mean, it's totally a landlocked spot. The former, they call it now the legacy site of, of Groves Hospital it was completely landlocked. You couldn't grow it any bigger. You have multi-resident on one end, you've got independent houses on two sides of it, you know, just have any room what's going to happen. Who knows? Um,
Ryan Joyce: Oh yes, it is unknown. I didn't know if there was answers. Okay.
Mary Lloyd: Yeah, no, we think that right now the, I believe the board and the CEO and the Hospital committee is working on things, but I, you know, with COVID who knows what's going to happen with funding for hospitals, we've been in a very, um, unique spot with having received the funding for the new Hospital already. Thank goodness, as well as, uh, Louise Marshall receiving them funding for their expanded emergency room. And Palmerston has received some money from, for some redevelopment and that site as well. So we were really fortunate in Wellington County with our Hospital system, that's going through a lot of changes and improved changes.
Ryan Joyce: They don't get the idea that this is just magical wishy. This is hard work. They made these advantages.
Mary Lloyd: Well, when we're talking about hundreds of millions of dollars, right?
Ryan Joyce: Yeah. Yeah. It's really, really exciting. And as you brought up the whole COVID situation as well, which is impacting all of us and you have a small business, in addition to everything that you do for the community, you also have a small business, right. Downtown sensational youth. So I'd be curious to know what has this been like?
Mary Lloyd: So, um, when the, the edict came down that all businesses had to close that were non-essential. It was, it was like turning off the lights and, you know, vacating the space. Uh, I did respond to some emergency calls and it sounds strange Bravo emergencies don't always apply to all segments of society, but for the person who's got the problem, it's important. And so I did respond to those types of calls and did curbside or delivery, mostly delivery to their home, their front porch. But it's really difficult. I think my heart on all of these small businesses that we have in Centre Wellington is really straining. All of us suffered in one way or another. Some can qualify for funding. Some cannot, there are businesses in our downtown that, you know, are significant businesses. And to see them close day in and day out a jewelry store, a ladies and men's wear store it's disheartening.
You know, you see those stores closed and you think, Oh, are they ever going to get open again? Are we ever going to be able to shop again? I'm watching with PRI the reopen. I'm so grateful they reopened and all of us with new rules, for sure. I think overall it's been really a strain. I am associated with the BI downtown. I'm not on their executive, but I do attend our meetings when I can through zoom. Right, right, right. And we discuss those issues and, you know, certainly, there's a lot of concern going forward that, uh, people will still come downtown. Right. There's there is some fear and, and rightly so, maybe they have compromised health. So they don't want to shop in stores right now. And some short stores are something that you need every week and some stores or something that you buy seasonally.
So, you know, each one of us, as I say of our challenges with how we are going to go forward, be successful. And it's hard to see places like the Grand Theatre closed and wondering, when is that going to open again or how open yet? And those things bring people downtown when they come down and experience something in our downtown. So you really want to talk glut and you come to, I love chocolate. You might wander around the stores that are near there, which is a good thing. But when we were all closed, it's really sad to see people at walking and kind of looking at the windows like, Oh, am I ever going to be able to go in there again? You know, and, and the fault actually the vault is opening on the ninth. They always said, Oh, I'm really thankful that they're wanting to open on the night.
Because again, people want to walk downtown, get their specialty brew and be able to, uh, continue on their way. Right. I we're such a community filled with so much character, like businesses have put so much effort into being unique. And I mean, look, what the Scottish shop just did a whole roof, amazing transformation. And, and, and watching that business, whether it's through being essential because she sells food products and having to deal with maybe a public that thinks, well, why is she essential? Right. Like everybody had to weather through it differently. Our downtown has the unique distinction of suffering through to bridge cultures. You know, we, we had tower street bridge close, and then, you know, within the next five years we had st. David's street bridge pose that impacts travel. It impacts businesses. However, there are some businesses that said when the traffic was sitting, waiting on the street so long for the lights they found out, we had other stores here. You have to look at it. Oh, wait, he's ready.
Ryan Joyce: Yeah. It's Oh gosh. Yeah, this was totally unexpected, but it certainly doesn't mute that bridge construction and Allura
Mary Lloyd: Well, so here's my, here's my response as a Councillor about the closure of the bridge. You knew Laura, because now Laura suffering a bridge culture last year, it was the bridge in Salem, which caused traffic changes. The County owns all three core river crossings in Centre in Elora. So that's the Alma or the South Salem bridge, the David street bridge and the battle, if we were going to ever have a bad time with stores being closed and that bridge being out now was the time. Right. You know, I hate to say it, but, uh, we've been able to pivot on that and be able to like the Township close those streets and, and make it pedestrian friendly. I think that the businesses can enjoy the patio space, enjoy the outdoor space. Uh, the heat makes it somewhat difficult, but however, it allows shoppers to get out and, you know, experience that area of Elora is very much of a visited spot. And it's nice to see them with that advantage time through this bridge closure, you know what I it's, I think we would have closed those streets the same way if I hadn't had COVID and they probably would have suffered as much with the bridge closure. So it's good that we've been able to, um, the Township has been able to pivot on that and, and allow that, that happening down there. So I'm really happy for them.
Ryan Joyce: Well, now I know the two Elora swans are not in your district, but I saw two swans, just a couple minutes from my house, and I know they were being relocated. Do you know, is that where they do you know, where they got relocated to?
Mary Lloyd: Uh, well, they do have their own sanctuary that they live in and there are some swans that live up on, uh, the water retention pond at the terrace, but they're pretty protective of their habitat. So, uh, I don't know if they would integrate them all there, but they might move from down. It's hard to when water levels start to go down. Right? Yeah. I like to go to that fundraiser to help with the money for the swans it's is there helps officially gotten the names Gertrude and Oh no, I don't know their dates. They're just beautiful.
Ryan Joyce: See, there it is. You've all you've built on the mystery. They don't really have names. Oh, I love that.
Mary Lloyd: Look at the people that are tubing right now. There's incredible amounts of families that are tubing down that river because pools aren't open yet. I've never done it. I haven't either. I'm going to have to try. Right. I think we're both going to have to do it. That will be,
Ryan Joyce: There'll be photos. We'll make this happen.
Mary Lloyd: Okay. It always should be great fun. There is a lot of beautiful areas here that, uh, to say I've experienced them all is, uh, a great exaggeration I've tried, but there are some things that I just haven't seen yet.
Ryan Joyce: Before we wrap up, what would you say is maybe one of your top spots in the area, if you had a chance to go and have a couple moments to yourself?
Mary Lloyd: So my favourite view of Fergus is actually from the pedestrian bridge in downtown. Fergus where you can look at that beautiful library, rare and over at the historic Melville church. I think there are so many photographs of those views and it's, to me, it's one of my favourite spots. I love that we've lit the bridges and her, and really pretty. And we focused on our heritage river. Um, I'm really happy with that. That's one of my favourite spots in town
Ryan Joyce: And it can't be without noted Melville, 107 of you. You mentioned this before we printed out 175 years. Yeah,
Mary Lloyd: Yeah, yeah. So planning some stuff for the fall. Hopefully, we can be open. I think my, my second favourite place in Centre Wellington is probably in the walking bridge in downtown Laura. Now, again, looking back, I have a, I have a painting up on the wall in my kitchen, actually that is of the former walking bridge, the metal one with the backsides, have some of the buildings there and it's one of them. I have compliments people give me compliments on that all the time. I love the fact that we've invested in that kind of place where it doesn't cost you any money to experience it. And you can come away feeling so fortunate to live in this beautiful area. Isn't it interesting. They're both on the river, the river,
Ryan Joyce: We are so blessed. How can people follow you or reach out to you? They can come visit you at the store.
Mary Lloyd: They can visit me in downtown Fergus at one 81 stage GDS, or they can get, send me an email. If it's a Councillor firstname.lastname@example.org I'm always available and willing to help in any way that I can. And I'm grateful to be able to serve my community.
Mary we could have talked for another hour, I figure, but we'll save it for another podcast. There's so much value and information here. Thank you for your time. You're welcome.