Michelle Babchuk wore her city councillor title for one last time Monday, Nov. 30.
That was the city council meeting in which she officially resigned her council seat after winning election to the B.C. Legislature on Oct. 24 in the North Island riding and was recently appointed by NDP premier John Horgan as the party’s deputy whip.
Babchuk was hailed by her fellow city councillors for her professionalism, fairness and balance as well as her ability to chair a meeting, having done it as chair of the the SD72 Board of School Trustees and the Strathcona Regional District (SRD) Board as well as other community committees.
“It doesn’t surprise me at all that she was appointed deputy whip for the legislature,” Coun. Claire Moglove said.
Moglove first worked with Babchuk when she was appointed to the Olympic Torch Relay Committee that was struck to organize Campbell River’s portion of the 2010 Olympic Torch Relay that made its way through the province. Babchuk, a school trustee at the time, became the chairperson for the committee.
“She was an amazing chair for that,” Moglove said.
Coun. Colleen Evans noted that Babchuk always came well-prepared to council meetings.
“I am going to miss you at the council table, your perspective that you brought to the table. You often did it with a sense of humour,” Evans said. “I just really appreciate everything you have done. You have made a difference.”
Coun. Charlie Cornfield recalled a conversation he had with Babchuk regarding a school issue in the 1990s. Cornfield advised her that if she wanted to do something about it, then she should run for the school board, which she did. Eventually, the two ended up on city council together and on the Strathcona Regional District Board, which Babchuk ended up chairing. Cornfield expressed his admiration for the way Babchuk handled that role.
“You did an excellent job chairing the SRD through some really difficult times,” Cornfield said.
Coun. Ron Kerr added his words of admiration for Babchuk.
“I have always enjoyed your balanced approach,” Kerr said. “I think as a person, I have always seen you as a friendly person and a person you could talk to outside of our (council) meetings.”
Coun. Kermit Dahl noted, as others did, that he didn’t always agree with Babchuk but he did enjoy working with her for the 25 or 26 months of the term of this city council. He wished her well in her new role.
“Go and enjoy it and I know you are going to represent us very well and be a great ambassador for the North Island,” Dahl said.
Mayor Andy Adams said that Babchuk’s election as a member of the provincial legislature is just another step in her progression, a progression that always worked towards the betterment of her community. Coming out of it, she has developed a clear understanding of what’s important to this community.
“I know you will do an outstanding job on behalf of the North Island riding,” Adams said. “You will be missed as a member of council, as a director on the SRD, but more importantly, as a friend.”
Adams advised her to be careful going forward because she tends to do things not at 100 per cent but at 200 per cent.
“Just make sure you take time for yourself, for Dan and for the rest of your family,” he said.
Babchuk said in her formal letter of resignation that she is grateful to have had the opportunity to serve the people of Campbell River and looks forward to expanding that service to the constituents of the North Island. She told her councillors at the meeting that she will be keeping in touch on a regular basis.
“I am just down the street,” Babchuk said.
She thanked every member of council and city staff as well as her colleagues in the regional district. Babchuk said she highly values all the relationships that she has developed and credits a lot of her success to the outstanding people she has had the privilege to serve and work with.