New White Rock council takes office

WHITE ROCK — With a few new faces at the helm, the course has been set for White Rock council over the next four years.

The route was charted Monday evening with the winners of the 2014 civic election being officially sworn in before a crowd of about 200.

Mayor Wayne Baldwin will resume his duties at the head of the council table, joined by councillors Helen Fathers, Grant Meyer and Bill Lawrence, who were all re-elected. New to city hall will be David Chesney, Megan Knight and Lynne Sinclair.

During Monday’s ceremony, Baldwin outlined some of the top issues he expects council to be facing in the coming term, but not before acknowledging two council members from the past term.  

Al Campbell and Louise Hutchinson were both praised by Baldwin as being outspoken and passionate about White Rock as well as having contributed greatly to the city. Campbell was not re-elected, while Hutchinson decided not to run again.

Looking to the years that lay ahead, Baldwin said there were several key issues faced by the city, the first of which was the Official Community Plan and controlled growth.

“The voters have given a strong mandate to this council to encourage controlled growth within this city,” he said. “One of the priorities we will have will be to review certain aspects of the Official Community Plan to ensure speculation is contained and that people have an understanding of what growth potential there might be.”

Baldwin also noted “we must learn to accept and control growth because it is a fact of life. White Rock’s growth is very small and manageable, about 120 to 150 people a year, or three-quarters of a per cent…. We want to keep it that way.”.

Other issues highlighted were the transportation of dangerous goods along White Rock’s waterfront rail line and the relocation of said line completely, as well as the purchase of the city’s water utility from Edmonton company EPCOR.

“The prospect of well over a million dollars per year leaving our taxpayers’ pockets to help keep the City of Edmonton’s property taxes down is just quite plainly unacceptable,” said Baldwin. “At the end of the day that will be the key driver for this acquisition.”

Other key items were promoting the arts and maintaining the high level of public safety, which Baldwin noted as being a distinguishing feature from Surrey.

“There’s a cost to this and, to a degree, it makes our taxes higher than Surrey’s,” he said. “‘No call too small’ is part of a strong sustained investment that benefits us all and we will not let that be compromised.

“I would like to thank the voters for electing a strong council that I believe will be able to work cohesively and constructively for the city in this term.”

Newcomer Megan Knight said she was excited to serve the residents of White Rock and agreed that the OCP should be key for the new team.

“Being on the street and knocking on doors everybody was asking ‘What’s going with the town centre?’ so I think the OCP is the biggest issue right now,” she said.

Another fresh face at the table will be David Chesney, who’s run for public office six times prior and has been a longtime council watcher.

He said that while it’s taken a while to get to the council table, he’s already looking forward to rolling up his sleeves and getting to work.

“When my name flashed up at city hall on election night, that period of my life ended and now the next part starts,” he said. “I’ve felt frustrated (with council) and now its time to get to work. And who knows, ask me in six months because maybe I’ve been going through life with rose-coloured glasses, but I think it’s going to be a really good time.”

Twitter @Questionchris

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