Nakusp council, Nov. 7: New councillors sworn in

It was smiles all around at Nakusp Village council’s inaugural meeting on November 7. Former councillors were thanked for their service and a new slate of Village leaders took their oath of office.

“When we started out in 2018, four years seemed like an eternity,” said Mayor Tom Zeleznik at the start of the meeting. “And now it’s gone.”

The October 15 local elections saw new mayors, councillors and trustees chosen for municipal governments and school boards across the province. In Nakusp, only one councillor chose to run again, leaving three new councillors sitting at the table. Zeleznik was acclaimed for the Village council’s top job.

Zeleznik praised the work of the former council, highlighting accomplishments like the Downtown Revitalization project, dealing with emergencies like the pandemic and forest fires, and hiring a new CAO.

“The future is bright, thanks to you, for our community and council going forward, and I want to thank council for the hard work you put in,” he said. “We lit the candle and provided a great beginning for the new council and a good future ahead.”

It was a bittersweet moment for the departing councillors.

“This was a really special time, and your organization and skills are amazing, and I’m still impressed by how much you managed to get accomplished,” Susan DeSandoli told the mayor.

“You told me it was going to be fun, and it was – mostly,” joked Councillor Tom Miller, who ran in a byelection last term at the urging of the mayor.

After receiving parting gifts, the outgoing councillors left the table to make room for the newly elected members.

Three new councillors – Tina Knooihuizen, Mason Hough and Dawn Edwards – all took the oath of office, while Aidan McLaren-Caux reaffirmed his oath as the sole returning councillor.

Then it was down to business, though most of it was pro-forma.

The new councillors got the chance to pass their first motions – one to approve the council meeting schedule for 2023, another for the acting mayor schedule for 2023, and one to receive correspondence to council as information.

McLaren-Caux was chosen to represent the Village on the RDCK board of directors, and Mayor Zeleznik will be his alternate. Appointments to other committees – from recreation boards to waste management advisory groups to First Nations advisory bodies – were put off until the next council meeting November 28.

It was a pretty light agenda, but enough for the newbie councillors for the first time out, who admitted to some trepidation as the meeting began.

“I was a little nervous, but no regrets,” said Tina Knooihuizen. The sentiment was seconded by Dawn Edwards.

“I went to Tina and said ‘how are you feeling?’ and we both said ‘nervous,’” she recalled. “But I’m really excited too.”

“I lost all my hair,” joked Mason Hough, who is bald.

The next council meeting will likely be more substantive for the newcomers, as they begin to tackle administrative issues like new zoning bylaws, requests for variances for building projects and ongoing issues like improving the water supply, creating industrial land and improving housing.

John Boivin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Valley Voice