It was an evening of solemnity and celebration last Monday as the new District of Clearwater council held its inaugural meeting.
“At this table sits a tremendous amount of talent and experience,” said Mayor John Harwood about the new council.
Judge Chris Cleaveley, who grew up on his family’s homestead south of town, performed the swearing in. Cleaveley has presided at all three of the young municipality’s inaugural meetings.
Taking the oath of office were Mayor Harwood and councilors Barry Banford, Merlin Blackwell, Gord Heisterman, Ken Kjenstad, Jon Kreke and Shelley Sim.
Harwood and Kjenstad have served in their positions since incorporation four years ago while the rest are new to council.
Following the swearing-in, the mayor announced his committee appointments. The municipality’s committees of the whole are where the real heavy lifting takes place. Kjenstad will chair the Finance and Audit Committee, Kreke the Economic Development Committee, Sim the Parks and Recreation Committee, and Blackwell the Infrastructure Committee. These chair positions will rotate after six months.
In making the appointments, Harwood noted that Clearwater will take over responsibility for road maintenance next year and the next six months will be important in finalizing plans for that. Possibilities for economic development, such as Yellowhead Mining’s Harper Creek project, mean considerable additional planning will be necessary.
Councilor Heisterman will be the District of Clearwater representative on three of the five community committees: Tourism Wells Gray, Chamber of Commerce, and Yellowhead Highway Association. He also will co-rep with Ken Kjenstad on Clearwater’s Junior Council. The only community committees he didn’t get was the Joint Advisory Services Committee, which went to Barry Banford. The committee looks at services that are shared between the District and Wells Gray County (TNRD Area A)
Harwood noted the tremendous potential for tourism in this area, potential that is being developed as the various groups work together.
He also praised former councilor Candus Graffunder for her work in setting up the Junior Council – a first in the province.
Kjenstad was chosen by Council to be Acting Mayor for six months. Normally the position is rotated every month but it was felt the other councilors need time to get up to speed.
As is usually the case, the mayor will be the municipality’ representative on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. Ken Kjenstad was picked by council to be his alternate.
Harwood noted that the training manual for the new councilors is several inches thick. They will have time to digest it over the holiday season in order to prepare for a five-day orientation planned for next January.
“If any of you thought it was about three hours twice a month – you will learn,” said the mayor.
Fire captain Dan Daase acted as the event’s master of ceremonies and members of Clearwater Volunteer Fire Department provided an honor guard as the new council came forward to take their seats.
Simpcw elder Margaret Joseph gave a blessing and welcomed those present to the First Nation band’s traditional territory.
“May you work together harmoniously in governing Clearwater,” said Rev. Lloyd Strickland in his invocation.
Clearwater Secondary School student Kiera Stel sang O’ Canada at the start of the ceremony.