Halfmoon Bay director Lori Pratt was acclaimed as chair and Sechelt Mayor Darnelda Siegers was acclaimed as vice chair when Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD) directors were sworn in at the inaugural meeting of the board on Nov. 8.
“We have a number of immediate priorities facing this board and the Sunshine Coast community – water, solid waste management, economic development, affordable housing, to name a few,” said Lori Pratt in her inaugural speech as chair after thanking her fellow directors, staff and elected officials on the Sunshine Coast.
Before directors were sworn in, shíshálh Nation director Keith Julius – the only incumbent director at the board – welcomed the directors to the shíshálh swyia, or territory, in front of a crowded room of public officials from across the Coast.
Rural directors were sworn in first, starting with Area A’s Leonard Lee, Area B’s Pratt, Andreas Tize of Roberts Creek, Elphinstone’s Donna McMahon and Mark Hiltz for West Howe Sound. Julius, Siegers, Sechelt Coun. Tom Lamb and Gibsons Mayor Bill Beamish were sworn in next.
Siegers then nominated Pratt as chair and Hiltz nominated Siegers as vice chair. Both were unopposed and elected by acclamation.
During her speech, Pratt emphasized collaboration and transparency and stated the board will be “vocal advocates” on federal and provincial issues such as derelict vessels, climate change and highways. “Our citizens have been vocal throughout this election period, telling us what their concerns are. This board is committed to being transparent and collaborative with our constituents, with our other local governments, including our First Nations partner of the shíshálh Nation and building our relationship with the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Nation.”
For the first time in four years, two mayors will also hold positions as SCRD directors. “We look forward to a continued and improved collaboration between our staffs of those of our partner municipalities and our Nations,” Pratt said.
Pratt served 10 years as a trustee at School District No. 46, including the last year as chair, and spoke to that experience. She said at the age of 43, she is the youngest woman to be elected SCRD chair, which was followed by applause. “The irony is, I may also be the longest serving elected person on the Sunshine Coast,” she added.