By Keith McNeill
Almost exactly 10 years ago, on Dec. 3, 2007, District of Clearwater’s first town council held its inaugural meeting.
After a hard-fought election with a high voter turnout (roughly 61 per cent), the members of the first council were Mayor John Harwood and councillors Jack Braaksma, Brent Buck, Christy Dobi, Candus Graffunder (Pelton), Ken Kjenstad and Stephanie Teare.
Only two members of the first town council are still on council.
Judge Chris Cleaveley, a provincial court judge who grew up in Roundtop, administered the oaths of office to the new council members. Cleaveley has inaugurated each of Clearwater’s new councils since then.
Marion Walker, who had been administrator of the previous Clearwater Improvement District, was appointed financial officer. Leslie Groulx became the new municipality’s corporate administrator.
The inaugural meeting was held in the Clearwater Legion Hall but regular town council meetings were to be held in the former Clearwater Improvement District offices on Station Road.
The first town council served for only one year before a new vote was held in 2008 as part of the regular provincewide municipal elections.
Braaksma was the only trustee from the former Clearwater Improvement District to continue on as a member of the new town council.
The CID had existed for 39 years before being replaced by the municipality.
He served for one year then stepped down. In elections held in 2008 Braaksma’s place on town council was taken by Bert Walker, a former Thompson-Nicola Regional District director who had run unsuccessfully against Harwood for mayor in the 2007 vote.
Otherwise, the town council after the 2008 vote was the same as after the 2007 election.
Clearwater’s next election was held three years later, in 2011.
Harwood was once again elected mayor, while the council members were Barry Banford, Merlin Blackwell, Gord Heisterman, Ken Kjenstad, Jon Kreke and Shelley Sim.
Speaking during the inaugural meeting, Harwood noted that District of Clearwater would take over road maintenance the follwing year. As a new municipality, the District had been given a five-year reprieve before it took on what would become the biggest item in its budget.
The 2014 election saw Harwood once again elected mayor.
“I’ve let myself in for four more years of work,” Harwood said after the vote. New provincial regulations had changed the time period between municipal elections from three years to four, meaning the next vote for District of Clearwater council will be in 2018.
There was one new town councillor, Dennis Greffard, who took the place of Jon Kreke. Otherwise, the council remained the same as in 2011: Ken Kjenstad, Shelley Sim, Merlin Blackwell, Gord Heisterman and Barry Banford.
Voter turnout in 2014 was 60 per cent, down by 80 voters from three years earlier.
For the first time, the District of Clearwater’s inaugural meeting was held in its own town hall. Previous inaugural meetings had been held in the Legion hall as the former CID building on the Flats does not have wheelchair access.
The municipality had begun earlier to move into the former Dutch Lake School.
How many of the present town council will stand for re-election in 2018 is not yet clear.