Port Alberni’s new mayor and city council were sworn in this week at the city’s inaugural meeting.
The city’s new council was welcomed by city staff and a full audience on Monday, Nov. 5, including council members of Tseshaht, Hupacasath and Huu-ay-aht First Nations.
Mayor Sharie Minions opened the meeting with her inaugural address, acknowledging the diversity of her new council.
“We are all very different people and we bring a diverse range of opinions and ideas to the table,” she said. “But I was really struck by the strong commonalities I heard in our values and guiding principles.
“We are not always going to agree,” Minions added. “And that’s a good thing. But it’s our role as community leaders to set aside our differences and look to our common values when making decisions that will shape the future of Port Alberni.”
Minions also thanked the non-returning members of council for putting their “heart and soul” into their roles for the past four years.
Councillor Cindy Solda echoed the same sentiments as Minions in her closing remarks. Solda, who is serving her sixth term on council, is serving a female mayor for the first time.
“When I look at this council and I look at the new people here, I think we are a very diversified council,” she said. “We all have our own opinions, and I think that’s really important.”
Councill Ron Corbeil agreed that the group has a diverse range of opinions. “The one thing we have in common I think is we want to see Port Alberni be a better place,” he added. “I always say we should leave a place better than we found it. And I think it’s incumbent upon this council to do that.”
Councillors Dan Washington, Debbie Haggard, Ron Paulson and Helen Poon also expressed their excitement to work together as a team. Paulson added a thank you to the past mayor and councillors for their “mentorship and guidance” over his first term on council.
Minions invited feedback from the public at the end of her address, affirming that this new council is committed to being engaged, welcoming and transparent. “When challenging situations come across our desks, we want to hear your voices,” she said. “When we mis-step or overlook a point of view, we want you to hold us accountable.
“There are 17,000 people who live in this community, and we believe that we are stronger when we work together.”