Departing Salmon Arm councillor Chad Eliason received a heartfelt chorus of appreciations and accolades from city council Tuesday.
Eliason, who has served on council since 2005 when he was just 27, is not running for a sixth term. Council’s Oct. 11 meeting, their last together before the Oct. 15 municipal election, closed with an impromptu round of thanks.
Most of the comments centred around Eliason’s hard work for the community, both in the projects he has spearheaded and the connections he built on the provincial level. Eliason spent seven years on the board of SILGA, the Southern Interior Local Government Agency, as well as seven years with UBCM, the Union of BC Municipalities, forming relationships along the way.
“I personally want to thank, on behalf of the community, Coun. Eliason for many, many years of work…,” said Coun. Kevin Flynn. “I don’t think Salmon Arm…, the citizens and residents, truly understand how tirelessly Coun. Eliason worked on our behalf provincially, and how much has been achieved because of his work provincially on behalf of Salmon Arm…”
Flynn also pointed to Eliason’s ‘pet projects’ in the city.
“I may have fought them at the start because I had no idea how we were going to afford them; now I can’t imagine our community without recycling, composting, and all of those things…”
Coun. Louise Wallace Richmond referred to Loud and Proud, the outdoor concert on Oct. 15 which will kick off the Salmon Arm Pride Project & Awareness Festival. She said she thinks it’s perfect Eliason has had so much to do with hosting “this massive, awesome concert on Saturday night that’s already putting us on the map…”
“I think it’s perfect because Chad has always made us the talk of the town, has always put us on the map. When I was first elected he even showed me the map. He said, here’s how you get things done.”
Coun. Debbie Cannon recounted how she and Eliason were both newly elected in 2005 and learned a lot together.
“I remember our very thick budget binder. He showed up at my business, and said ‘look at what we’ve got to look through here. This is going to take some time. Do you want to chat about this?’”
She recalled their first meeting with consultants about garbage collection and composting.
Cannon, too, spoke about Eliason’s connections at SILGA and UBCM conventions.
“It’s a gift how he connects with different ministries and how he gets those friendships going and conversations going… So I think when we look at 2005 to 2022, he really brought a lot to city hall.”
Coun. Sylvia Lindgren added her thanks for Eliason’s introduction to being newly elected.
“I think it was ‘drinking out of fire hose’ is what he said, and he wasn’t far wrong.”
Coun. Tim Lavery recalled when he was a teacher-on-call in a Salmon Arm Secondary Grade 11 or 12 English class and first met Eliason.
“I’m pretty sure that because of me, you didn’t actually learn too much. But I do have to say I’ve learned so much from you, both about process and about substance… and about the importance of relationships. You’ve taught me a lot, Chad, you’ve done a lot for the city, and a heartfelt thanks…”
Mayor Alan Harrison added that Eliason’s heart is in the right place, pointing out Eliason introduced him to probably every minister in B.C. and their staff during the UBCM.
“The reason he did that was because he knew he wasn’t going to be there and he knows the importance of that legacy continuing.”
At this last council meeting, Eliason made a motion for staff to prepare a report investigating the possibility of a high density tax incentive to encourage high density building in Salmon Arm.
He said council has talked about it quite a lot and the city has a tax incentive for downtown revitalization as well as for the industrial park. He said the issue will be for the next council to decide, but a staff report and recommendations would be wise. The motion passed unanimously.
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