New Nanimo city council is officially sworn in
Mayor Bill McKay and eight city councillors took their oaths of office Monday night, beginning a new four-year chapter in Nanaimo politics.
As a bagpiper played, McKay and councillors Bill Bestwick, Diane Brennan, Jerry Hong, Billy Yoachim, Wendy Pratt, Ian Thorpe, Jim Kipp and Gord Fuller marched up to take their seats in front of hundreds of people who had gathered in a spacious ballroom at the Vancouver Island Conference Centre to see their representatives formally assume their responsibilities.
Following a blessing from Rev. Brian Evans and representatives from Snuneymuxw First Nation, including Chief John Wesley, Judge Doug Cowling swore in McKay and the councillors.
McKay began his first formal remarks as mayor on a note of gratitude.
"I'd like to begin by extending my gratitude to several people," McKay said. "First to my family who were my foundation during the past three years, and especially the months leading up to Nov. 15. "To the volunteers and supporters who worked so hard on my campaign. To so many in Nanaimo who cheered me on and helped encouraged me to just 'work harder.' And finally to the more than twenty one thousand people in the community who took the time to register support for a candidate." McKay also touted this year's voter turnout, which increased by almost 30 per cent, as a promising sign for the city's future. "That number alone speaks volumes to me about Nanaimo today," he said. "Candidates and their campaign supporters along with a diverse representation of citizens have all impressed me with their huge energy and pride.
"Today, it seems the people of Nanaimo have a renewed spirit and a new desire to work together. It is this energy that Council needs to capture to realize a new vision for Nanaimo."
The mayor also welcomed his fellow council members and urged them to make a "mutual effort" to achieve new goals for the city.
"Let's set deadlines for this team to start implementing the plans needed to move ahead and start to fulfill Nanaimo's promise and potential," he said.
McKay also paid tribute to firefighters and emergency workers who battled two blazes over the weekend. McKay also offer condolences to the family of a young child who died as a result of one of the fires.
McKay also presented outgoing mayor John Ruttan and other departing council members with gifts on behalf of the city; framed photographs of various Nanaimo scenes by local artists.
Once the ceremony was over, the new council got to business and approved McKay's picks for the city's representatives on the Regional District of Nanaimo board of directors.
McKay himself will sit at the board and will be joined by Bestwick and Kipp. Newcomers Thorpe, Hong, Yoachim and Pratt will fill vacancies left by Ruttan and former councillors George Anderson, Ted Greves, Diana Johnstone.
Brennan, who served last term as the deputy chairwoman of the RDN, will no longer sit at regional board.
However, she was tapped to continue to serve as the City of Nanaimo's representative on the Vancouver Island Regional Library board.