Port Moody’s new mayor: ‘Change has come’

Mayor Meghan Lahti described the election results as a “decisive” signal from the community.

The new council was inaugurated on Nov. 1, and each representative summarized their goals over the next four years.

“Change has come,” Lahti said. “It’s time to turn away from the election mindset and lean into a governance mindset.”

She said that new councillors have a steep learning curve ahead of them, and she will be counting on the two remaining incumbents, Coun. Diana Dilworth and Coun. Amy Lubik, for their experience.

Lahti said good governance, due process and transparency were key to the city’s future, and qualities she intends to lead by.

Significant changes are already in Lahti’s sights.

She said a “reimagining” and completion of the city’s official community plan is a priority, along with revisiting the former council’s previous work plans and directives, and creating a new strategic plan.

All council committees will be put on pause until this strategic plan is complete, Lahti announced.

“It’s important to ensure that these valuable committees are aligned with council strategic plans,” she said, adding she wants to do a comprehensive review and restructure for efficiency and effectiveness.

All committee members will remain in place for now, Lahti said.

She announced the creation of three new standing committees: a strategic priorities standing committee, a governance and legislation committee, and a community planning committee.

“I will be changing our committee council meeting structure,” she said. “There will be more information to come, but they will, for the most part, be replacing committees of the whole.

“Our council will be better served by more thoughtful and focused discussions around the important issues that we face.

She said these new committees will all be open to the public.

In the spirit of transparency, Lahti said that her office will be open to any member of the public every Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., starting Nov. 9.

Most of the incoming councillors echoed sentiments relating to sewing the divisions in the community, and referencing past dysfunctions with city hall.

Coun. Samantha Agtarap said it was a “new chapter in Port Moody’s history.”

“This election was about bringing unity and collaboration back to our beloved city,” she said.

“Informed decisions can only come when we collaborate and are open to dialogue, feedback and insight from all points of view.”

The infighting on council over the last four years was not a secret, said Coun. Diana Dilworth, adding it was time to “turn their backs on divisiveness” in favour of opportunities.

She said over the last three decades she’s seen community leadership transform Port Moody with the development of Newport Village, Suter Brook Village and Klahanie

“I am so excited for our community for the next four years,” Dilworth said.

Coun. Kyla Knowles said she wants to stop the city from making “unilateral decisions” that affect local properties and residents.

“My primary goals are to put the interests of current and future residents ahead of personal interests and agendas and to ensure your tax dollars are spent wisely,” she said.

Coun. Callan Morrison said he was excited to see that the incoming council was dominated by women.

He said the community has spoken “loud and clear” on issues around development, but he wants to work in the spirit of teamwork and kindness on council.

“Our residents want to reconnect with their neighbors and neighborhoods through positivity, not division,” Morrison said.

“To those who didn’t vote for my vision … please know that I’m still committed to working to earn your trust and represent you every day.”

Coun. Haven Lurbiecki reminded the council that only 36 percent eligible voters cast ballots, and less than 260 votes separated third place from eighth place.

She said that every councillor has an obligation to work for the entire community, and encouraged local residents to hold them accountable.

“The results of this election are not an approval or green light for any specific proposal,” Lurbiecki said.

“We need you to stay engaged, speak at public input (hearings), write to council, talk to your neighbors and friends and keep them updated on what is being proposed for our city.”

Coun. Amy Lubik started off by thanking Dave Stuart for being supportive and gracious following a judicial recount that ousted him from the sixth council seat.

She said continuing health and equity programs in the city are her priorities, and after a turbulent year of environmental disasters, council needs to be looking out for the most vulnerable.

“We’re a small city and area in an era of multiple complex issues,” Lubik said. “We’re going to be needing to think holistically, looking at evidence with open minds and really listening to each other, staff and the community.”

Patrick Penner, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Tri-Cities Dispatch