In a political world that can sometimes be harsh, Salmon Arm Council’s inaugural meeting was just the opposite – overflowing with goodwill and heartfelt appreciations.
Throughout the evening Monday, several politicians’ voices faltered with emotion as they expressed thanks for their families, supporters and colleagues.
Inclusion was a theme that permeated the meeting, the gallery packed with both young and old, with able-bodied people and people with disabilities, with white and indigenous people.
Mayor Nancy Cooper noted the meeting was taking place on traditional Shuswap Nation territory. She thanked both Adams Lake Band Chief Nelson Leon and Neskonlith Chief Judy Wilson for attending.
Elder Lucy Williams presented the opening prayer in both the Secwepemc language and in English, praying that the new council will be healthy and strong.
All council members, both outgoing and incoming, voiced appreciations and/or vowed to serve the city well. City staff were thanked repeatedly for their assistance.
Outgoing councillor Marg Kentel remembered her 21 years on council, serving with four different mayors and many councillors.
Highlights, she said, were going ahead with big projects including the Shaw Centre, the RCMP building, the Prestige Harbourfront Resort and the city hall and courthouse.
Another interesting time was participating in the SmartCentres development.
“A natural tendency is to fear change…,” she said, adding that the development has created jobs and economic spin-offs.
Her advice to council would be: “To always think about the big picture and what’s best for all Salmon Arm residents…”
Each of the three incumbent councillors gave appreciations to one of the three departing councillors.
Coun. Alan Harrison praised Kentel’s ability to listen to all points of view and sort through information, as well as her straightforward approach and her ability to get things done.
“It’s a rare moment we hear a complaint about the Shaw Centre, the RCMP building or city hall,” he noted, referring to her foresight.
Coun. Ken Jamieson appreciated outgoing councillor Denise Reimer, saying she was impressive from the start, juggling the job of councillor along with her also demanding job in emergency services.
“She impressed us when she stood her ground,” he noted, something she did, “with grace and humility.”
He said Reimer’s move will be a loss for Salmon Arm.
Coun. Chad Eliason appreciated outgoing councillor Debbie Cannon, who has been on council for nine years. He praised her commitment to the community, pointing out she’s “really pro-Salmon Arm.”
He referred to her open-mindedness, noting she has been both pro-development and pro-environment with her support of SmartCentres in combination with her support of recycling and her championing of the cosmetic pesticide bylaw.
He also spoke to Cannon’s behind-the-scenes work, which made many events happen.
“If it needed to get done, Debbie would get it done.”
New councillors Tim Lavery and Louise Wallace Richmond as well as returning councillor Kevin Flynn expressed heartfelt appreciation for being elected. The lone female councillor, Wallace gave thanks for the women who have come before her. She used a ‘table’ metaphor to describe inclusive community building.
“I will bring a healthy appetite and proper table manners. I will listen mindfully and I will speak from the heart…”
Cooper said she thinks the electorate has chosen wisely.
“It’s another strong council and you will continue to see Salmon Arm move forward.”