Gibsons Mayor Bill Beamish and his council have taken office.
Beamish and councillors Aleria Ladwig, Annemarie De Andrade, David Croal and Stafford Lumley were sworn in at a Nov. 6 ceremony held at the Gibsons Public Market.
“The campaign is over, the election is over and starting today, starting now, we are committed to focusing on dong the things that we said we would do,” Beamish said in his inaugural address.
Beamish said he’d already met informally with the councillors to “discuss with them their priorities and interests” and “formulate a plan for the first few months of our tenure.”
Those plans include moving forward on affordable housing, aquifer protection, “mitigating and adapting” to the effects of climate change, and “building our relationship with the regional district on issues like regional planning, water, garbage and transportation.”
Beamish also announced three initiatives designed to increase community input:
• Changes to the committee structure will include new planning and community development and natural environment and sustainability committees. “Community members will be invited to sit on these committees with members of council to provide us with the benefit of their experience and expertise on issues,” Beamish said.
• Adding more opportunities for public inquiries at council meetings, and making both audio and video files of those meetings available to the public.
• Creating a student councillor position, to be filled by a student from Elphinstone Secondary.
Beamish also talked about economic development and support for local business, relating an anecdote about the suit jacket he was wearing. “We must find ways to support local businesses that today are finding it difficult to recruit workers and to be successful in a changing economy,” he said. “Last Monday I picked up this jacket from the cleaners, which closed on Tuesday – so we no longer have a cleaners in Gibsons. It’s very important that we support our local businesses and that we use them, because without our support they can’t make a go of it.”
Council also held a brief first meeting, during which they voted to approve Beamish’s appointment as the town’s Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD) director, with Croal to act as alternate.
Several members of the incoming Sechelt council, including mayor-elect Darnelda Siegers, were on hand as guests at the Gibsons ceremony and Beamish said he looked forward to working with them.
Sechelt council’s inaugural was scheduled for Nov. 7, after Coast Reporter’s deadline. Councillors were expected to endorse Siegers and Coun. Tom Lamb, the only other member of council with previous council experience, as Sechelt’s representatives at the SCRD.
SCRD directors were to be sworn in and choose a chair and vice-chair on Nov. 8.