City hall chambers were filled to the brim Tuesday evening as friends, families, performers, First Nations leaders, city staff, and a local pastor brought greetings to the newly elected Williams Lake city council and witnessed its inauguration.
After being sworn in by chief administrative officer Brian Carruthers, the mayor and councillors took turns addressing the crowd with speeches that included thanks to supporters and hopes for the next term.
Mayor Kerry Cook told the crowd it was an honour to be re-elected.
“Some people have asked along the way why I wanted to run again. It’s a good question and it’s exciting to have the confidence of the people to move in the direction we have laid out in our first term,” she said, adding crime reduction and economic development will be priorities for the new council. Coun. Ivan Bonnell, former mayor and councillor, thanked the representatives from First Nations who came and offered their congratulations to the council and said he’s looking forward to working with First Nations communities in the future.
“I think we can work co-operatively together to resolve differences. Definitely we will have disagreements, but we will not be disagreeable with each other while we do this,” Bonnell said.
With a term under his belt, Coun. Geoff Bourdon said he is now feeling well positioned to make positive changes and plans for future generations, not only for the next term, he added, but for years to come.
Newcomer Danica Hughes said she is approaching her new post with “healthy fear and trembling,” but excitement that the community has elected a diverse council.
“It will be a steep learning curve,” she added.
Embarking on his 18th year of serving the council, Surinderpal Rathor pledged to work on reducing crime, and improving infrastructure and affordable housing.
Coun. Laurie Walters also said she was ready to hit the ground running after completing a first term on council and learning from other council members and City staff.
“I’m very excited about the committee [Community Services] I’ll be chairing and I’m committed to working collaboratively to identify tangible solutions and move forward with real initiatives that will benefit Williams Lake,” she said.
While she covered an array of topics including tourism, economic and land development, cultural awareness, and infrastructure, Coun. Sue Zacharias also challenged the community to take mental ownership of 80 per cent of the City’s infrastructure because it is the citizens who are paying for it.
“Get active in determining our destiny, serve on committees, take part in public meetings and volunteer your time,” she said.
In addition, five junior councillors — Talia Baptiste, Cody Haley-York, Ana Lomavatu, Patrick Newsome, Ivona Ognjanova and Abbi Taylor — were also sworn in.
Baptiste described the last year as a great learning experience and said she is looking forward to sharing what she has learned with her community, friends and family.
“I enjoy learning about local government and maybe one day we’ll be here in council,” she said.
Taylor said he and the other junior councillors are excited about participating in the youth engagement project for the City.
The meeting was followed by a reception in the lobby that included some young local musicians performing.