Pitt Meadows’ new mayor promised a more open, accessible council tuned into the concerns of its citizens in her inaugural speech on Tuesday.
In the new year, the city will hold a communication workshop to figure out how its message can reach residents, most of whom failed to show up at the polls in last month.
Although turnout for the election was up, just 30 per cent or 3,684 of 12,200 registered voters cast their ballots, compared to 23 per cent in 2008.
“We will welcome your input and listen to your concerns, but we will also encourage you to be part of the community and participate in the decision-making process,” Deb Walters told a packed council chamber at city hall after the new team of seven was sworn in.
Walters thanked former mayor Don MacLean and councillor John Becker, who ran against her in the Nov. 19 election.
Walters, the city’s first female mayor, led the polls with 2,025 votes.
Also elected to council were incumbents Doug Bing (2,341 votes), Gwen O’Connell (1,975), Tracy Miyashita (1,971) and Bruce Bell (1,543). Janis Elkerton, a former city councillor, was elected with 1,943 votes.
The city also has a new face on councillor – Dave Murray, a CUPE-backed candidate, who got 1,214 votes.
“I know that our community has made a good choice. As I look around the table, I see a council eager to roll up their sleeves,” Walters said.
She added the city would continue to take advantage of grant and partnership opportunities, which have allowed it to renovate and build several facilities in the past three years, including a new turf field, library, seniors centre and renovated ice arena.
“I have had the good fortune of speaking with many of you on the campaign trail and I have heard your concerns loud and clear,” said Walters.
“In these uncertain economic times, we have our work cut out for us. We will need to be fiscally conservative. Using our resources wisely, we will be responsible and sustainable.”
Preliminary estimates predict a general tax rate increase of more than four per cent in the City of Pitt Meadows, which means homeowners could see a spike of around $134 on their tax bills next year.
The city will also continue to lobby senior-levels of government for funds and ways to improve transportation and work with TransLink to ensure a “reliable transit system” that residents can depend on.
Walters also pointed out that drainage was “top of mind” for residents and stressed that “staff have been working hard to find sustainable solutions to this ongoing issue.”
She thanked the friends and family who supported and choked back tears when she spoke about her husband Len.
“Anyone who knows us, knows we are a team. I could not and would not have done this without him,” she said.
“To me, there is no better person in the world. I love you, thanks hun.”