Diversity celebrated as North Cowichan’s new council sworn in

Mayor Al Siebring says he likes council’s diversity

North Cowichan’s new mayor said his council comes with a “number of firsts” during its inaugural meeting on Nov. 7.

Al Siebring told the standing-room only crowd in council chambers that Debra Toporowski is the municipality’s first female First Nations councillor, Tek Manhas is North Cowichan’s first South Asian councillor and Rosalie Sawrie is the municipality’s first councillor from the LGBT community.

“While council members are elected to represent broad interests, our new councillors will bring perspectives to our debates that North Cowichan’s council has never had before,” Siebring said.

“I believe this will enrich the fabric of our discussions.”

RELATED STORY: NORTH COWICHAN’S NEW MAYOR READY TO BRING CHANGE

The new council, elected on Oct. 20, also includes incumbents Kate Marsh and Rob Douglas, as well as novice Christopher Justice.

Glen Ridgway, a former North Cowichan councillor who spent 45 years as a lawyer in Duncan, took each council members’ oath of office, while Mike Coleman, another lawyer and a multi-term mayor of the City of Duncan, gave the charge to council.

Coleman described the new council as a diverse and capable group.

“You will find your work load will be challenging and time consuming but also satisfying,” he said.

“My advice is to debate and discuss the issues with transparency and civility, listen to other’s viewpoints, as well as those of your capable staff and the citizens you represent. You are assuming an enormous responsibility and you are fortunate to be chosen to carry them out.”

RELATED STORY: NORTH COWICHAN COUNCIL TO SET STANDARDS OF CONDUCT

After Siebring announced the appointments of the councillors to a number of the municipality’s committees, he said that this process has been changed from previous inaugural meetings of council.

He said that in the past, councillors would be handed lists of who was appointed to what committees at the inaugural meetings and that would be the first time they would see them.

“I felt that this was less than an ideal and decided that if I were to become mayor, I would do things differently,” Siebring said.

“I’ve met with each councillor individually and then had two informal meetings with the councillors as a group to go over the process and review committee lists. They engaged with me and, to their credit, some changes were made.”

Siebring said a number of the municipality’s committees were not listed because, rather than assume they will move forward as before, he wants council to establish strategic goals and directions, and then determine which committees are needed.

“We also have two new standing committees,” he said.

“It’s been more than 100 years since North Cowichan took a look at its bylaws and a review is long overdue, so the regulatory review committee has been established. As well, we now have a First Nations relations committee that will have improving relations with our First Nations neighbours as its number-one priority.”

Siebring also thanked outgoing mayor Jon Lefebure for his many years of service to North Cowichan, as well as former councillors Tom Walker, Maeve Maguire and Joyce Behnsen from the previous council who were also at the meeting.

He said he also thanks the citizens of North Cowichan for providing the new council with their votes.

“The election itself was all about competition and to see who could get to the finish line first,” he said.

“Now there is no longer a competition and we’re all colleagues who will learn from each other. I want us all to bring out the best in each other.”



robert.barron@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Father and son score in narrow Quw’utsun loss

Brad and Quinton Thorne find the net, but their team is edged 3-2

T.W. Paterson column: This cougar story will never die

“As I walked along the last row in the Gallery, a skull mounted by one of the displays caught my eye!”

Shawnigan Hills parkrun report for Nov. 30

Seven personal bests set in chilly conditions

VIDEO: ‘Holiday Magic’ when Celtic Rhythms and Summit Dance joined forces in Duncan

Fun and frolic combined with more serious selections to make a satisfying evening for everyone

‘Things haven’t changed enough:’ Ecole Polytechnique anniversary prompts reflection

Fourteen women were fatally shot by a gunman at the Montreal school on Dec. 6, 1989

Bear raids freezer, gorges on Island family’s Christmas baking

Hungry bruin virtually ignored meat and fish, focused, instead, on the sweets

B.C. pharmaceutical company’s stocks double in value after successful lupus drug trial

More than 40 per cent of patients using voclosporin saw improvements in kidney function

Second warning on romaine lettuce from California region as another E. coli case reported

Two cases of E. coli have been reported in relation to the illness in the U.S.

B.C. Transit finds 28 used fareboxes online, saves $300,000

‘Someone joked maybe we can buy used fareboxes on eBay,’ CEO says

Many of Canada’s working poor can’t afford lawyers, don’t qualify for legal aid

One lawyer says many people earn too much to qualify for legal aid, but not enough to really live on

Economy lost 71,200 jobs in November, unemployment rate climbs to 5.9%

Jobless rate is at its highest since August 2018, when it hit 6%

BC Hydro reservoirs see record low rain across Vancouver Island

Hydro electric watersheds are at a third of their normal levels

Most Read