Newly elected mayor Bill Dingwall and the rest of the Pitt Meadows councillors took their oath of office Tuesday night, then the mayor apologized to the woman who was sexually assaulted by former councillor David Murray when she was a teenager.
The woman remains anonymous, but Dingwall said she was among the large crowd of people who packed city hall for the inaugural meeting of the new council.
He called her a strong survivor.
“The sexual assault was a dark period for you and our community, and as my first public comment, both personally and as mayor, I want to offer an apology.
“I hope, and we collectively hope as a new council, this brings some closure and healing for you, and others generally in our community who are also survivors of abuse.”
“Collectively, we need to do better.”
Murray was convicted of sexual assault in October 2017, for an offence in 1992, and sentenced to nine months in prison.
Dingwall and other council candidates were critical of the handling of Murray’s charges and conviction by outgoing mayor John Becker and the last council.
Dingwall maintained council should have restricted Murray’s public activities and brought a motion of censure as soon as the charges were laid.
Dingwall offered congratulations to his council colleagues, who include four first-term councillors in Bob Meachen, Nicole MacDonald, Anena Simpson and Mike Hayes, incumbent Tracy Miyashita and returning councillor Gwen O’Connell, who served 17 years at city hall prior to the last council.
“They represent a talented and diverse group of individuals who bring considerable experience and distinctive backgrounds and, as you can see, we represent all demographics, and that’s really important for a council. I am honoured to be here with you.”
Dingwall noted voter turnout increased over 33 per cent, and the new council received a strong mandate from electors.
The new councillors generally promised to listen to the public.
Miyashita gave a nod to the audience.
“Just as the Seahawks have the 12th Man, I want to acknowledge the eighth member of council, which is the residents. You guys are part of this team. We’ve been elected, but you are just as much a member of this council as we are,” she said.
“Please know that you are welcome here in this place, this is your space, too. We want your emails and calls. Maybe not in the middle of the night, but your voice does matter, and you will continue to be heard.”
Coun. Bob Meachen quoted Margaret Mead: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
“And change the world we did,” he added.
The council liaison appointments to committees and boards were announced:
Dingwall: Fraser Valley Regional Library Board, Joint Police Liaison and the Mayor’s Council on Regional Transportation.
Miyashita: Active Transportation Advisory, Integrated Flood Hazard Management (Fraser Basic Council) and Fraser Health.
MacDonald: Advisory Design Panel, Agricultural Advisory, and UBC Malcolm Knapp Research Forest Community Advisory Board.
Meachen: Bonson Road Truck Traffic Working Group and Pitt Meadows Airport Advisory.
Simpson: Green Leadership Team, Heritage and Museum Society and Youth Centre Society.
Hayes: Rail Community Advisory Panel, Community Services Council, Pitt Meadows Day Society and United Way of the Lower Mainland.
O’Connell: Alouette River Management Society, Chamber of Commerce, Agricultural Association, Accessibility and Inclusiveness and Ridge Meadows Seniors Society.
All members of council will be on the Pitt Meadows Economic Development Corporation.
The first full regular meeting of council will be held on Nov. 13 at 7 p.m.