Departing TBM councillors say farewell

Outgoing members of The Blue Mountains council have said their farewells.

On Nov. 14, the current council held its final meeting of the term. At the conclusion of the meeting outgoing council members Rob Sampson and Bill Abbotts made their parting comments and wished the new council luck. Mayor Alar Soever, who is also retiring from local government, was not present for that portion of the meeting.

Abbotts made extensive comments at the meeting and thanked Soever and his colleagues for choosing him to join council after the death of the former deputy mayor, Rob Potter, one year ago.

“Prior to amalgamation, I was on Thornbury council for nine years. Some of our projects then were the harbour expansion, Georgian Trail and a new town hall. There was a different atmosphere back then without social media, live streaming, laptops, email and thankfully a lot less polarization of opinions,” said Abbotts. “It has been challenging, interesting and exciting working on our new transportation master plan and the many other projects and issues we dealt with over my recent short period of time.”

Abbotts thanked CAO Shawn Everitt and Clerk Corrina Giles and their teams for their support and guidance.

“You are the best and we are very lucky to have you on our team,” he said.

Abbotts also pointed to the 30 per cent turnout rate in last month’s local election and challenged the entire community to do better.

“Our municipality did not win big when 70 per cent of the electorate, for some reason, either were not able to vote or couldn’t find the time or interest to vote. Why?,” said Abbotts. “Unfortunately we are not alone in this dilemma.”

Abbotts encouraged the incoming council to find ways to communicate with voters who didn’t participate and engage with them to overcome the lack of interest in local government.

“Good luck and all the best to the new council with the many challenges and tough decisions you will have to make over the next four-year term,” said Abbotts.

Sampson kept his remarks short and thanked staff for their support over the past four years.

“We were a slightly different council than you’ve seen in the past. More hands-on and sleeves rolled up,” he said. “Good luck, it’s not easy, as you know.”

Deputy Mayor Peter Bordignon thanked the outgoing council, recognized the contributions of Potter and Jim Uram – the two members of council who died during the term – and he thanked Soever for his commitment to the mayor’s job.

“Alar was here 60 hours per week the past four years. Whether you agree with his policies or not, I can’t find someone else who gave everything to the job. I wanted to say thank you, he worked hard in everything he did,” said Bordignon, who concluded with praise for council as a whole. “You won’t find anybody more committed to get things done than this council.”

Everitt spoke on behalf of staff to thank and congratulate the retiring councillors.

“We really do appreciate all the hard work that has been done,” said Everitt. “It is a different council and we’re better for it. I’m really looking forward to the next four years.”

The new council for The Blue Mountains will be sworn in on Nov. 21 at 11 a.m. at the town hall in Thornbury.

Chris Fell, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter,