Heffer addresses Morris-Turnberry council at inaugural meeting

MORRIS-TURNBERRY – The new council term began on Nov. 15 in Morris-Turnberry with the swearing-in of new and returning councillors, the appointment of the Deputy Mayor, and a formal inaugural address from Mayor Jaime Heffer.

CAO/Clerk Trevor Hallam began the meeting by congratulating council members on their election and Heffer’s acclamation back to the mayor’s seat for four more years.

Hallam spoke to the importance of the swearing-in ceremony.

“Before any business of council can be undertaken, council elect must make a declaration of office,” he said.

“The formality of this should not be understated, it’s Section 232 of the Municipal Act, which states that you cannot take a seat as a councillor unless this declaration is made. Failure to make the declaration has the same effect as resigning your seat.”

All new and returning councillors did make the declaration, after which Hallam also signed and applied the seal of Morris-Turnberry, making it official.

Coun. Kevin Freiburger accepted the position of Deputy Mayor, as set out by Section 5.1 of Morris-Turnberry’s procedural bylaw, which states, “the member elected at large and with the most votes shall be appointed as the deputy mayor and will be sworn in at the inaugural meeting, as such.”

After the formalities were finished, Heffer delivered his inaugural address, beginning with some humour.

“Three-score and 10-years ago today,” Heffer said with a chuckle, “We’re going to have some fun these next four years; it’s not always going to be fun, but we will try to make it fun.”

Heffer welcomed the new council and congratulated them all for their successful campaigns.

“Thank you for being willing to take on this commitment,” he said. “With this commitment comes the duty and responsibility to be representatives, to be policymakers, and to be stewards on behalf of those who have entrusted these responsibilities to our care.

“Even though we are a small municipality, we are still a service provider to our ratepayers. So, let’s make sure that what we do, we do exceptionally well on their behalf.

“I believe as council, we will need to take on a stewardship role, looking after the needs of today, while preparing for tomorrow and beyond. We will want future councillors to look back and recognize that we were prioritizing and preparing in an appropriate way, setting a way forward for them.”

Heffer cautioned councillors to be mindful of the substantial amount of reading and preparation and to feel free to ask questions and ask for clarification if necessary.

“We will not always agree with each other,” said Heffer. “And that’s OK. But we will keep the tone of our meetings that is respectful and professional.”

Asking councillors to work respectfully with neighbouring municipalities, Heffer said, “We have five bordering municipalities of which we work with in varying degrees. We need to work with them in a fair and reasonable manner, so that our broader community is not hindered by municipal boundaries. So please keep that in mind as we go through these next four years.”

Heffer finished by talking about the responsibilities council has to residents and reminding councillors to do their best in those conversations.

“There will be times that we deal with some difficult things,” he said. “I would encourage you to be patient with each other, not get caught up in the moment, but to keep a clear direction to move forward in those discussions, and there will also be times that are rewarding, and together we will share the satisfaction of good decision making.

“So, as head of council, I will do my best to lead you and to bring you to consensus, so that we will have clear direction, with clear focus, to put Morris-Turnberry in good standing for the future.”

Cory Bilyea, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Wingham Advance Times