Mayor Bob Wells and members of council were sworn into office Monday at the inaugural meeting of the newly-elected Courtenay council.
Doug Hillian and Manno Theos retained their seats at the Oct. 20 election. Council newcomers include Wendy Morin, Melanie McCollum and Will Cole-Hamilton.
In his inaugural address, Wells noted that voter turnout was five per cent higher this year.
“We’re in a new era,” Wells said before a packed gallery. “The citizens of Courtenay have elected a progressive council, and I look forward to the many strategic priorities and issues we will tackle in this term. I ran on a platform to create a culture of collaboration and co-operation that starts at City Council and runs through City Hall. There will still be healthy debate as our democracy depends on it – but I have high expectations for professionalism to ensure we treat each other at the table with respect.”
Wells said affordable housing was the most talked about issue during the election.
“We need to create our own strategy to ensure that we explore any opportunities to increase affordable housing and rental stock,” he said. “I’m excited that North Island College has the potential to create student housing, which in turn will reduce the pressure on the rental market in Courtenay – so we need to know how we can help. Affordable housing is also a regional issue, and we will work hard with local, provincial and federal governments to create more affordable housing.”
He said council will strive for a more open and transparent government that engages with the community.
Wells also plans for council to create an entrepreneurial task force to “ensure we are creating the best ecosystem on Vancouver Island.”
Wells will continue to serve on the regional district board, along with Frisch and Hillian. Morin and Cole-Hamilton will be sharing a position on the CVRD board.