Inaugural Address (December 1, 2014)
Good Morning and Welcome.
We have come together this morning to mark a new beginning for Huntsville and we do so in this public space - constructed for the purpose of bringing people together to a shared experience.
Today we share in a celebration - a celebration of our vibrant democracy and a celebration of renewed leadership in a civic dialogue begun on April 26, 1886 when Reeve Kinton and Councillors Eccelstone, Hanes, Proudfoot and Scarlett convened as the first Municipal Council in the courthouse of a booming little industrial settlement called Huntsville.
Just as that first election battle in Huntsville between Huntsville's first doctor Francis Howland and Louis Kinton and was a hotly contested race, so too was the election of 2014.
To stand before your community and share the passion of your ideals and advocate the convictions of your beliefs is a courageous act. To all those candidates who took that leap into the fray of public life we celebrate your commitment today as well.
To my able opponents Mr. Mackenzie and Mr. Withey, I congratulate each of you for a vigorous debate of ideas during the campaign and I thank you for your many years of commitment to Huntsville. We welcome your ongoing contributions to make Huntsville a better place for many more years to come.
I congratulate each member of this new Council. The people of Huntsville have selected us - four new individuals among us - to represent them over the next four years.
Each of us have declared this morning before Justice Cronk, before our peers, our neighbours, our friends and our family that we will faithfully and impartially exercise this office.
You now have an office and it is not just an exciting opportunity to engage in learned debate, or to offer new ideas for the advancement of Huntsville - it is an awesome responsibility of service to others. It is an honour and it is an immense privilege.
This day, with each of these bright and capable individuals who have sworn their oath, we mark not only the beginning of new term of Huntsville Town Council, but a new way of doing business at your Town Hall.
We will consult, we will debate, and we will deliberate. At times we will disagree, at times we may falter, but we will never waver in our commitment to perform our role to the best of our ability. Our consultation with the people of Huntsville and our debate around the Council table will be conducted with the respect befitting the dignity of the office we assume today.
As so with these ideals of an open, transparent and consultative government for Huntsville we begin today to seek out those in this community who wish to be involved in the business of shaping our future. To those who feel excluded from the decision making process, I urge you to join us. Share with us your ideas, your energy... your dreams.
Your Council has heard your message loud and clearly - the time has come for us shift our focus to our core responsibilities.
We promise to demonstrate our commitment to the oath we have sworn here today. We will spend your money with caution, we will invest in the priorities you have made clear to each of us:
- Sustainable investment in our infrastructure
- Sustainable economic opportunity for all and
- The protection of the pristine waters and forests that have drawn people here since before Captain George Hunt first observed in 1871 the forest that "stood as it had for ages... that stretched away to the pole".
In the coming days and weeks, your council will meet and discuss the strategic priorities of our community for the next four years. While we shift our focus to those core responsibilities we will also be planning for the future.
Council will invest more in roads, bridges and trails.
Council will seek new ways of reducing our carbon footprint and our energy costs.
Council will promote opportunities for active, healthy living.
Council will actively seek new ways of attracting sustainable long term economic investment in our town.
Council will undertake a comprehensive review of our Official Plan and we will adopt more complete guidelines to improve the planning process.
And through a series of Advisory Committees made up of citizens, your Council will establish a permanent sustainable blueprint for Huntsville which will address our future infrastructure needs in transportation, sports, recreation, arts & culture and we will seek a more robust preservation of our rich history and heritage.
One of these Advisory Committees will be a Youth Council - a permanent committee which will meet monthly in the Council Chambers with me where we will discuss issues that are important to youth and where these students will learn the power of involvement and know the satisfaction of affecting positive change in their community - for how can we properly plan for our future without the active engagement of those who are our future.
New policies and plans will take time to develop and to adopt - time will be required to ensure that all citizens of Huntsville - be they permanent or seasonal, rich or poor, young or old - have an opportunity to participate.
Our brazen plan is to deliver effective services for the taxes you pay while actively seeking your guidance and your participation in shaping our future.
I have often wondered about the improbable founding of Huntsville and of the conviction of a small group of rugged and determined settlers who built a village amidst the hills, north of almost everywhere only to rebuild it when fire burned it to the ground. Our history is one of perseverance and one of daring.
On the eve of Huntsville's incorporation as a town 114 years ago the Huntsville Forester encouraged all citizens to leap forward "With one great unity of purpose, and the unanimous casting aside forever of feelings of enmity that may exist among ourselves... let us become one for the future development and welfare of the place, one for progress, one for unity, one for unbounded prosperity."
I stand before you this morning humbled by the faith bestowed on me by this community and honoured to work with your Council, our staff and the people of this amazing community to take up the ambitious work of what H.E Rice so often called our "tale of uninterrupted progress".
As so my fellow citizens, let us begin anew with conviction and vigour, with faith and discipline, to always build a greater community for all who call this magnificent place... home.
Mayor Scott Aitchison