While they may look a little less worldly now, several politicians in Grey Bruce are for the most part relieved to be free of beards they've been growing since the early days of the pandemic in March.
Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound MP Alex Ruff, MPP Bill Walker and several mayors and councillors in Grey County were at the Georgian Bay Centre For The Arts on 2nd Avenue East in Owen Sound Saturday morning to do away with their unkempt facial hair as part of the Beards For Bucks fundraiser supporting the Owen Sound Regional Hospital Foundation.
Owen Sound Mayor Ian Boddy, councillors Richard Thomas, Travis Dodd and Scott Greig, Southgate Mayor John Woodbury, Hanover Deputy Mayor Selwyn Hicks and Grey Highlands Deputy Mayor Aakash Desai all took part alongside the local MP and MPP.
Jeffrey Robins of Mane Street Hair Salon in Owen Sound handled the barber work, shaving off the nearly four-months of facial hair growth on each of the local politicians in short order.
The group of politicians decided in March to grow out their beards to support a cause and settled on the Owen Sound Regional Hospital Foundation's COVID-19 Critical Response Fund. The Foundation's executive director Amy McKinnon says the critical response fund is used to provide personal protective equipment for hospital staff, and to support costs at the Owen Sound field hospital, the purchase of iPads to keep patients in touch with their loved ones and local sewing groups who are making reusable masks to provide to patients at the Owen Sound hospital.
People were invited to pick the politician whose beard they wanted to see disappear most, and make a donation to his portion of the cause.
By those ground rules, donors who supported Beards For Bucks wanted to see Dodd lose his beard most. More than $1,500 in donations came in to the Owen Sound councillor's portion of the fundraising campaign.
"I don't know whether to take it as a compliment or be offended," Dodd chuckles. "There's a number of individuals who would rather see this not on my face, than how it currently is."
"It's all about what we were able to do as a group. And it's just great that we were able to showcase how great our community is," continues Dodd. "To get everyone from councillors, deputy mayors, mayors, MPs and MPPs, it's just fabulous to do this and for a great organization."
Dodd says he has never grown his beard out to this extent before. He and his wife went back through pictures of a previous contender he grew a few years back, when he thought it was quite long.
"This is pretty bad. It's pretty tangly. I should probably use some beard oil," Dodd says. "It's getting pretty embarrassing and I'm just glad today is here to get it cut off."
By Saturday, more than $6,000 had already been raised for the Owen Sound Regional Hospital Foundation -- surpassing the unofficial goal of $5,000. Donations can still be made to support Beards For Bucks. McKinnon expressed excitement about the response the campaign received.
"We really appreciate all of the community support," McKinnon says. "And the support of the politicians who've had their beards the past four months."