North Huron council sworn in, deputy reeve elected

NORTH HURON – The Township of North Huron held its inaugural meeting for the 2022-26 council term on Monday, Nov. 21 at the Wingham Town Hall Theatre.

A small crowd of residents, North Huron CAO Dwayne Evans and Clerk Carson Lamb, welcomed the new and returning council members, congratulating each one for their successful campaigns.

“First, I’d like to take this opportunity to congratulate each of you on your recent election to office,” said Evans. “As elected officials you have been chosen to provide leadership to the municipality and to make decisions in the best interest of all North Huron residents.”

Evans talked about how public service is rewarding but “not always glamorous,” cautioning the new council that some decisions may not be positive.

“As staff, we’re here to support you with your decision-making process and we will provide you with the information you need to make an informed decision,” said Evans. “Together we’re striving to make North Huron a prosperous, engaged municipality that welcomes visitors, families and residents through strong agriculture development, culture and tourism.”

Encouraging open dialogue, understanding, and mutual trust, Evans told councillors to reach out to him or any senior staff member if they have any questions.

Lamb then read out the legal preamble regarding each councillor’s declaration of office before officially sitting as the council of North Huron.

“The importance of this declaration should not be understated. Section 232 of the Municipal Act states that you cannot take a seat as council until this declaration has been made and failure to make this declaration has the same effect as resigning from council.”

After the opening prayer and all councillors made their declaration of office, Reeve Paul Heffer made his inaugural speech.

“I would like to congratulate each of you on your successful campaigns. Over the last few weeks, it has been very busy for each of us,” he said.

He talked about how he recently took a tour of the township and visited each village and hamlet.

“A person came to me in the main street and told me to remember this place is known for its arts, theatre, and agriculture,” said Heffer, speaking of his visit to Blyth. “I think that’s quite a combination right there.

“As we get our agendas and reports, prior to our meetings, we’ll have ample time to ask questions to Dwayne or senior staff and come to the council chambers well prepared, as residents expect us to be, for a profitable meeting. All of council will have the opportunity to speak and participate in discussion,” said Heffer.

“I know we’ll have various opinions. But we will make the best decision for all the residents of North Huron. It is expected of us. Let’s do it well.

“There was a clear message in your platforms you presented at the all-candidates meeting. Prepare for asset management but still provide adequate services for the township. Secondly, it was said many times by you that we must foster strong municipal neighbour relations,” said Heffer.

“As a council, we will endeavour to provide leadership and integrity to the best of our ability to move North Huron forward in the next four years and beyond for the betterment of our community.

“As your reeve, I thank you very much.”

Each councillor had three minutes to say a few words. They all congratulated each other and talked briefly about what they hoped to bring to the table.

The next item of business was to elect a new deputy reeve. Coun. Kevin Falconer, Coun. Chris Palmer and Coun. Anita van Hittersum all put their names in for consideration.

A three-way tie saw van Hittersum eliminated by choosing names out of a box. A second vote between Palmer and Falconer ended with a vote of 5-2 in favour of Falconer. Falconer will serve as deputy reeve for the entirety of the four-year term.

The first meeting of the new council will be held on Monday, Dec. 5.

Cory Bilyea, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Wingham Advance Times