Dobbyn-fullBy Anne Finlay-Stewart

Swimming 100 miles was a personal goal for Francesca Dobbyn. Today she completed the challenge and took on another, filing her papers to stand as a candidate for Owen Sound city council.

With her children launched on their own careers and the full support of the board of United Way of Bruce Grey, where she executive director, the time is right both personally and professionally, she said at an informal gathering this morning.

When city issues such as public transit and low-income access to the Regional Recreation Centre arose, Dobbyn was surprised to discover how many people felt they had no voice at the city, and she felt she could act as a conduit for their concerns. This is what she hopes to offer as a councillor. "It's easy to be a Monday morning quarterback," she says, "But there comes a point where you have to step up and be pro-active and advocate from within."

Well-known for co-chairing the Queen's Park bandstand reconstruction project, Dobbyn is willing to be hands-on when it is appropriate. But she said she feels the real work at the city is "building a culture of community engagement and giving people the space to make the changes they want."

A single parent for fifteen years, Dobbyn says working within a budget was an essential skill. She cites that and her ability to help people find common ground as important qualifications for the job, and is looking forward to what she recognizes as the steep learning curve ahead.

Anne Finlay-Stewart is Community Editor of She can be reached at [email protected].