Feature Story                                                                                           Wednesday, December 3, 2014

 

The Magnificent Seven!   

Chilliwack Mayor and City Councillors take oath of office

Staff/Voice photos

 

Councillor Chris Kloot reads his oath of office to Judge Thomas Crabtree at the City Hall inaugural meeting Tuesday.

 

ith the flick of a pen and the downing of a scotch, Sharon Gaetz was sworn in to office for her third term as Chilliwack mayor, in front of about 100 people Tuesday evening at City Hall. The ceremony was administered by Judge Thomas Crabtree. MLAs John Martin and Laurie Throness, CEPCO president John Janzen and others from the business community were some of the familiar faces in the crowd.

 

There was all the pomp and ceremony that one would expect at an inaugural council meeting; a brass band, bagpipe procession, prayers, anthems, speeches and applause. There were fond farewells to outgoing councillors, warm welcomes for new ones, and even a schmooze afterward.

 

Major Angus Haggarty led the invocation with a prayer. "We pray to God your divine blessing for the men and women who stood for election and we thank those willing to make an effort but we unsuccessful, also for our six councillors we ask for your blessing and your inspiration upon them as they prepare to take their sacred and sworn duties."

 

The council session began with a rendition of O Canada sung by Tanner Beagle and piano accompaniment from his dad Kevin, a teacher Sardis Sr. Secondary.

 

Just to break the ice, the two new councillors were exclusively allowed to motion on, and second, the agenda item to accept the record of the inaugural ceremony.

 

Mayor Sharon Gaetz's highlighted some of the City's accomplishments during her inaugural speech.

 

As follows:

 

It has been my privilege to preside as mayor of the city of Chilliwack for the past two terms and tonight it's with pleasure and humility that I continue of mayor of this team.

 

Thank you for the residents of Chilliwack for placing your trust in me and the people around the table. Thank you for choosing us to cast vision and set direction for the next four years.

 

To our councillors, thank you for putting your name forward to serve our community and congratulations on your success in this election. I look forward to working with all of you together in this next term.

 

For outgoing councillors, councillor Ken Huttema and councillor Stewart Mclean, I know you were already recognized by all of council at our last meeting, but I would once again like to thank you for your tireless years of service to us and our community.

 

I would also like to thank the staff and the members of the City of Chilliwack for the invaluable service that they provide not only to council and its delivery of it's mandate, but also for the professionalism and commitment to serving the residents of our city.

 

The citizens of our community often thank council but much of the thanks truly belongs to you staff. We're deeply grateful for all your hard work and dedication.

 

We have accomplished so many things in these past three years; however these were not achieved exclusively by council rather they were achieved by a partnership of all the residents who gave their time and their talent to serve on committees and boards, by all the community members who provided their input and by our talented city staff who provide guidance and who executed our decisions with excellence.

 

We had a busy term. A few of our major accomplishments include the Sardis Library, this 10,600 sq ft facility officially opened in May 2013 after several years of planning. The library was built with a number of environmental considerations and on sustainable design principles to reduce annual operating costs and conserve current and future resources. The Sardis Library has been well used and had astonishing success.

 

Stewart Mclean was thanked for his years of service to the community as councillor.

 

Exhibition Park

The Exhibition Park's synthetic turf field. This $2M field opened in October 2013 thanks to funding from the province of British Columbia, the City of Chilliwack, a contribution from the Chilliwack Minor Soccer Association and the Tire Stewardship Grant of British Columbia. There are many benefits to a synthetic turf field for example, it accommodates up to ten-times more usage than a regular grass field and it allows for more use even in adverse weather conditions. he field is also environmentally friendly. We used recycled tires for the base of the field and unlike grass fields, it doesn't require irrigation or fertilizers. Being physically fit and active is important and we know that this field will help contribute to our healthy community.

 

Health Contact Centre

The Chilliwack Health and Contact Centre. Issues like homelessness, mental health and substance abuse are not unique to the city of Chilliwack. Every community faces similar challenges. But what is unique is how we are working on these social issues and helping our community and marginalized individuals.

 

During the past term, we brought together some social service agencies, charities, governmental and faith-based organizations that are able to help individuals navigate the system and get the help they really need. One solution that came to fruition is the Chilliwack Health and Housing Contact Centre which is a one-stop-shop that helps remove barriers that may stand in the way of assistance.

 

The Contact Centre is a community-wide effort to help the individuals that need help the most in our community. Centre people who are homeless or at-risk of access to supportive housing and health services. The Centre includes a 22-unit supportive housing component, the Annis Residences, along with a broad range of community support services delivered by and Fraser Health.

 

The Chilliwack Community Band plays in the City Hall lobby.

 

Downtown Revitalization

During the last term, we followed our plan to revitalize the downtown and have made several significant steps forward on Main Street, Mill Street upgrades and sidewalk widening, the temporary park at Five Corners and the Community Garden which was utilized by Ruth & Naomi's Mission.

 

Public Transit Expansion

During this last term, we celebrated a multiple public transit milestone. We've added additional hours, routes and added early morning and evening service. We worked with BC Transit and championship the idea of Fraser Valley Express, which is new service which will connect regional public transportation between Abbotsford and Chilliwack and will ultimately connect to Langley. The Fraser Valley Express will connect four independent transit systems; Agassiz to Harrison, Chilliwack to Fraser Valley and Translink.

 

Official Community Plan 

We've updated our Official Community Plan (OCP). Over the duration of the term, we've been busy updating our OCP which involves a lengthy consulting process with the community. 2040 OCP presents a long-term vision and growth strategy that embraces all aspects of community development. The plan represents a unified vision and brings all of the City's initiatives to work toward a healthier community.

 

Collinson Pump Station 

Over the last term, we received federal and provincial funding for the upgrade to Collinson pump station in Greendale as part of city-wide flood protection plan. This is situated adjacent to Chilliwack's dike system to help protect the community from flooding from the Fraser River and other rivers. Upgrades to the pump station included upgrading the existing pump and related internal piping, motor, controls, backup power supply and electrical systems and that was just there for our engineers.

 

A Growing City

We're also proud that the City of Chilliwack has been recognized for several awards in the past term. We were named at the first Conference Board of Canada's mid-size city's outlook 2013 as one of the fastest growing mid-size economies in Canada.

 

 

Accolades

We were recognized as one of the top tem BC towns for investment in 2013 by the Real Estate Investment Network. We received the Open for Business Award through the provincial government in BC's small business roundtable along with $10,000. Considerable recognition was given to the City's work with the Love Me Communities Program which fosters welcoming and inclusive communities.

 

Our Chilliwack residents have honoured us with their trust and I look forward to working with you on pressing issues and challenges that we face. You have presented yourself as people who are competent team players and I believe that we have our work cut out for us. We will have to commit to being fiscally conservative in order to keep our taxes low and to keep the financial burden light for our citizens. 

 

We have in the past adopted the pay-as-you-go philosophy and because of that we're in such excellent financial shape. Chilliwack will continue to work together with neighbouring local governments. Our provincial and our federal governments, the police and other partners to share information on some key initiatives to keep our community safe and healthy.

 

I would like to thank our family and friends for the support they've given us for the many, sacrifices that they have made and they will continue to make. Without their love and support, this would be very difficult.

 

I would like to thank Shaw Cable, Starfm, the Chilliwack Times and the Chilliwack Progress who attend these meetings regularly. We appreciate your professionalism and your quest for accuracy to help to ensure that our community has access to the most current information about our planning and the decision-making.

 

Our residents have expectations of us as a self government, we will never have enough resources to fund everybody's wishes. So governing our community will always be a matter of difficult choices. I'm confident that we will make the decisions that satisfy the majority of our residents.

 

MLA Laurie Throness was at City Hall for the ceremony Tuesday.

 

Council will continue to work all times for the best interests of the people of the City of Chilliwack. We all stepped forward to serve because we love the community and share the common (unintelligible) to keep the city healthy and prosperous. We want Chilliwack to continue to be a great place of (unintelligible) and prosperity ... and may I present our new council to you, our humble thanks to each and every one of you.

 

See more photos below.

 

 

 

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