Submitted by Mary Giuliano, City of Fernie Mayor
I want to thank everyone for the opportunity to keep working as not being challenged in the election allowed for me to continue on as usual.
The election showed the lowest percentage of voters ever remembered. Less than a third of eligible voters cast votes. I hope this means the public is fairly happy with the direction council is going and not just apathetic to what was accomplished. I am appreciative of being in the chair again and do want to say that I will continue to work and serve this community to the best of my ability as I am sure other council members will.
I have attended numerous events representing the city such as the Chamber Awards, Remembrance Day and the Lantern Festival. I have also met with the Ministry of Transportation and Columbia Power staff, Interior Health and Mainroads for the pre-winter meeting.
Disappointing news is that the Columbia Basin Trust’s (CBT) Community Directed Funds are being phased out by CBT who have determined that the original concept behind this new designation hasn’t worked as well as hoped. The good news is that our contract of three years at $200,000 will still be honoured, so we do have some funds left for the Elk Valley.
With previous council winding down, members worked diligently on issues so as not to leave too many unfinished decisions to new council.
I am including a portion of my inaugural speech so that I can thank Pastor Shawn Barden for his invocation, some of which needs to be quoted: “Our God of grace and goodness, we thank you for this incredible city, for the beauty of our surroundings which encircle us in your splendour, for the warmth in our community making this a place we love to call home, and for the magnetism our city has that draws people here from all over the globe, all of these remind us just how special Fernie is. We thank you for this new council, for each member and their willingness to serve our community and to work together to help our city thrive. We ask that you would pour into them wisdom as they discern issues and chart courses, may they be guided by wisdom, grant them courage to stand by their convictions, courage to voice those convictions and the courage and humility to allow convictions to be changed.”
Thank you Pastor Barden for these words and others, it was a great beginning to this new term. I also want to thank Maria Landa and Clare Bernier, two lovely young girls for singing the Canadian and British national anthems.
I extend thanks to past council members Willard Ripley and Randall Macnair for their dedication to local government. Randall has served for 15 years as mayor and councillor, his knowledge and expertise will be missed. Willard will be missed for his ability to get to the heart of a problem and provide an answer with a great deal of common sense. I also want to thank CAO Jim Hendricks and all directors, staff and employees, we all worked well together this past term to achieve certain objectives.
I welcome Phil Iddon, Dan McSkimming and Joe Warshawsky back as each one brings knowledge and passion to the position and can be counted on to continue to work as hard as they have over the past three years.
The newest members of the team: Jon Levesque, Ange Qualizza and Dennis Schafer share the same passion for this town and want to provide good leadership in planning and building for the future of Fernie.
The city held an appreciation dinner for all employees last Friday and I want to thank everyone that donated prizes so that we could do a fundraiser for Shyanne Osmond, specifically Urban Systems, Best Western, Boston Pizza, Gear Hub and others. Employees raised a large amount and also brought bags of food items to donate to the food bank. Thanks goes to council members for purchasing wine for attendees, it was our small contribution to acknowledge appreciation as well.
I need to give thanks to Peter, Dakota and all staff members of the Best Western who provided a most delicious and wonderful dinner at a great price as well as the most fabulous service.
I want to quote famous Aboriginal teacher Gordon Tootoosis, “Leadership is about submission to service not elevation to power.”
We as members of this council are here to serve the citizens of Fernie and we will endeavour to do so to the best of our ability.
On behalf of council I’d like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas, happy holidays and the very best in the coming new year.