The new mayor and council were introduced to Grand Forks Monday night at the inaugural council meeting at City Hall.
Mayor Frank Konrad and the six councillors were brought into council chambers by a piper and then were sworn in by acting corporate officer Sarah Winton.
Acting city administrative officer Diane Heinrich introduced the new council and gave a brief recap of how the reconstruction of City Hall has gone since it was burned down in a fire in September 2013.
“We’re really excited to have this at our City Hall,” said Heinrich. “It’s been a long time in coming to be back in this building. We have one more meeting scheduled (Dec. 15) at the Canpar office, then we will be here permanently. A lot of people went to a lot of work to get this set up.”
City Hall had to be fixed up and chairs and tables brought in to facilitate the inaugural meeting.
“The upstairs was almost complete but there was no furniture up there yet,” said Winton to the Gazette. “So it had to be cleaned and we had to get chairs up there.”
Winton said it was important to have the inauguration at City Hall because, “that is the place where city business takes place.”
“It was just timely for them to be able to have their first meeting at the newly renovated City Hall,” she added.
With seating for only around 50 people, council chambers was full for the ceremony and about 15 people had to wait outside by order of the fire marshall.
There were a few matters taken care of by council in their first meeting including appointments of acting mayor and the council representatives to both the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary (RDKB) and the Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital District board.
The order of alternate mayors was reversed upon a recommendation by Coun. Colleen Ross. Ross suggested that reversing it would also allow more experienced councillors to fill in as alternate mayor earlier in the first year while the first-time councillors became acquainted with their roles.
Ross’ motion passed and the order of alternate mayors is set at: Michael Wirischagin, Christine Thompson, Colleen Ross, Neil Krog, Chris Hammett and Julia Butler.
Coun. Wirischagin proposed that Coun. Krog be appointed the RDKB representative for council.
“Neil’s been in this position longer than anyone at this table,” said Wirischagin. “He understands the process. He’s been at the RDKB table before. We could then revisit it in a year’s time.”
Coun. Thompson also spoke in favour of the motion.
“I would support that in lieu of the fact that there is a different method of governance at the regional table than there is at the municipal table,” she said. “Perhaps for the first year anyway until you (Konrad) get your feet under you as mayor it would probably be a good decision to ask Coun. Krog to fill that position.”
Coun. Julia Butler also spoke referring to a section in the community charter which states that the mayor is the head and chief executive officer of the municipality. “It further states that his role is to provide leadership to the council,” she said. “Now typically the mayor is also asked to carry these duties over to represent our town at the regional district table and I feel that’s a fair designation.”
Krog was appointed council representative on the RDKB board with Ross as alternate by a 5-2 vote with Mayor Konrad and Coun. Butler voting in the negative.
Krog was also selected as the hospital board representative.
The meeting ended with Mayor Konrad thanking the residents for supporting him and the people who attended the inaugural meeting.
“For me, it’s an honour to be sworn in here tonight as mayor of this city,” he said. “This honour has been bestowed upon me by you, the citizens of Grand Forks. I’ve achieved many accolades in my life but this is, by far, the apex. I’m proud that I can serve you for the next four years and I make it my pledge to never betray the trust you have put in me.”
The next city council meeting is set for the Canpar office on Dec. 15 at 7 p.m. The first meeting after the new year is on Jan. 12 at City Hall at 7 p.m.