Outgoing city councillor Laurie Walters gave an emotional farewell address at Tuesday’s regular meeting outlining the 10 years she served on council.
First elected in 2008 when Kerry Cook was mayor, Walters said her first term was a steep learning curve.
“I learned a lot about process and the value of process, our roles as politicians and policy makers.”
Walters said at the time council was working on creating a long-term vision plan for Williams Lake that took three years to complete.
“It was the community’s engagement and the kitchen table talks and the fact every sector of the community was involved with that plan. I know that this council has not been quite as proactive with that plan and I really really hope that in the future council will take another look and revisit it.”
During her second and third term the Sam Ketcham Pool renovation project was started and eventually finished.
“After the pool was completed I expanded into regional government and was elected on the North Central Local Government Association and began thinking more regionally,” she said.
She also achieved her provincial instructor’s diploma and taught at Thompson Rivers University.
“I think my third term was the most challenging and rewarding,” Walters said. “I found that I was contributing more and my voice was heard and my leadership skills were put to work.”
She continued to chair community services, which she had in her second term, and was second vice-president of the NCLGA.
Fighting back tears, Walters thanked the citizens of Williams Lake for letting her serve them for 10 years.
“It’s been both really humbling and an honour. The staff are who I will miss most. The citizens need to know how fortunate they are to have the city staff. It’s their knowledge, skills, length of service and dedication that has formed this city, not politicians.”
After thanking the other councillors for their integrity and leadership, Walters said everyone has dedicated time and contributed.
“Differences set aside, each used their skills, and at the end of the day, whether we agree or disagree, those skills have helped move this community forward.”
She also thanked her family for being supportive and said she plans to reinvest some of her time with her aging parents and with her grandchildren.
“I plan to continue my work with the Central Interior Rural Division of Family Practice and using my skills I’ve learned while being on council for 10 years.”
Walters then looked out into the gallery where resident Elke Reiner, who attends every single council meeting, was sitting in her usual spot.
“I really appreciated your interest in this community and your dedication and how involved you have been,” Walters told Reiner. “There are not very many communities that can say they have an individual that has been as dedicated as you have been. I really want to thank you.”
Mayor Walt Cobb thanked Walters for her contribution.
“Certainly as you indicated there were times when we disagreed but that’s what made us a good council because we agreed at the end of the day that it’s not about personalities, it’s about the issues in our community,” he said.
Coun. Sue Zacharias in not seeking re-election either, however, Walters chose to make her farewell speech Tuesday evening because she will not be able to attend the council meeting in November when the newly-elected council will be sworn in.