Abbotsford is uniquely positioned for growth and success, said Mayor Henry Braun in his inaugural address to council on Monday.
He spoke to a room of about 300 people – including family, friends, community members and city staff – who gathered to witness the new mayor and council at the inaugural council meeting at Matsqui Centennial Auditorium at city hall.
“Building a stronger community means bringing all people together to ensure the concerns and priorities of citizens are reflected in both the discussion and the decisions made by council,” Braun said.
Before his address, the Honourable Judge Steven Point oversaw the administration of oaths, beginning with Braun.
The new council consists of Couns. Les Barkman, Kelly Chahal, Sandy Blue, Brenda Falk, Moe Gill, Dave Loewen, Patricia Ross and Ross Siemens.
New to the council table are Chahal, Blue, Falk and Siemens.
After each member of council read the oath and pledged their allegiance to the Queen, they signed the official papers.
At the meeting of council, Ross was appointed deputy mayor for the year of 2015, and other appointments to city committees were made.
In his address, Braun said there are many issues to be addressed at the city level, including homelessness, property tax levels, escalating commercial vacancies, managing growth and development, developing efficient transit systems and more.
He cited the importance of the ongoing update of the official community plan, saying that right now the way the city makes planning and land use decisions is impacting infrastructure costs.
Braun said the city must plan for the future to make Abbotsford livable, affordable and walkable.
“We will address the development of a clear strategic plan and a corresponding long-term financial plan for our city.”
Braun spoke of creating new systems for citizens to weigh in on the performance of the government as part of a plan to demonstrate accountability in government.
There is an opportunity for the new council to “bring a greater sense of transparency in our governance process, as well as better accountability and consistency in the application of our bylaws.”