Bagpipes, red serge, a soprano and a prayer song highlighted White Rock council’s inaugural meeting Monday at the White Rock Community Centre.
There was also an apology, as returning White Rock Mayor Wayne Baldwin launched his opening address with special mention to the past support of his spouse, Jane. After three years by his side during his first term as mayor, she “now has to do it for another four years.”
“Sorry, dear,” the mayor told his wife.
After thanking councillors who didn’t return to the fold – Al Campbell, who was defeated, and Louise Hutchinson, who retired – Baldwin outlined six council priorities for the years ahead:
• a review of the Official Community Plan “to ensure speculation (around growth) is contained”;
• the removal of dangerous goods from local train tracks;
• finalize the purchase of the city’s water supply;
• maintain White Rock’s “uniquely high level of public safety”;
• continue to promote arts and culture; and
• seek out new businesses to fill the city’s empty storefronts.
Baldwin also “set the record straight” on the city’s financial situation, noting suggestions to the contrary during the run-up to the election.
“White Rock is in excellent shape financially,” Baldwin said. “We are one of the few municipalities that has no debt whatsoever.”
Acknowledging the city’s taxes are the fourth-highest in the region, Baldwin said that comes from having a small tax base and a desire to maintain its no-call-too-small emergency response.
It is not a result of overspending, he said.
“Any thought that we’re in dire financial straits is totally without merit,” he said.
Baldwin described the new council – comprising incumbents Helen Fathers, Grant Meyer and Bill Lawrence, returning-councillor Lynne Sinclair and newcomers David Chesney and Megan Knight – as one he believes “will be able to work cohesively and constructively.”
Debate will be encouraged, he said, but “once the vote is done, it must be recognized that a decision of council has been made and we must go with it.”
“I have every reason to believe that this will be a productive, progressive four years for us.”
Council members cast their first votes Monday, to approve the deputy-mayor rotation; committee appointments to the Fraser Valley Regional Library Board (Fathers, with Knight as alternate), the TransLink Mayors’ Council (Baldwin, with Meyer as alternate); and the Metro Vancouver board of directors. Alternates for the latter are White Rock Coalition members: Meyer (2015), Lawrence (2016), Sinclair (2017) and Knight (2018).