GF council has inaugural meeting in City Hall

Shara JJ Cooper
By Shara JJ Cooper
December 2nd, 2014

Grand Forks’ new city council held their inaugral meeting in freshly renovated City Hall. Mayor Frank Konrad and councillors Neil Krog, Michael Wirishagin, Julia Butler, Chris Hammett, Colleen Ross and Christine Thompson all swore the Oath of Office before being seated in council chambers. 

Diane Heinrich was the acting Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) since former CAO Doug Allin left the position in late November. Sarah Winton took the role of acting corporate officer, Heinrich’s previous position. 

Their first meeting was a popular event, filling the council chambers to capacity with a few spectators watching from the hall in order to meeting fire regulations. It is the first council meeting in City Hall since the fire in September 2013. 

Councillors walked in to council chambers as bagpipes were played. Each councillor said and signed the Oath of Office sitting at the table. Konrad called the meeting to order and adopted the agenda and minutes from previous meetings. They also adopted the proposed meeting schedule for 2015. 

Wirishagin made a motion to appoint Krog as the City representative to the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary (RDKB), a role typically filled by the Mayor. He said that Neil had “been on this position as long anyone else has at this table” having served six terms on council and Wirishagin three. He said that Krog understands the processes at the RDKB table. 

Thompson spoke in favour of that, saying that the RDKB has a different governance at the regional table and that having Krog fulfill that role would give Konrad time to “get his feet under him.” 

Butler spoke up, reading from the community charter saying it’s typical for the mayor to have that role and telling Konrad “I feel that’s a fair designation that could be done on your behalf.” 

Ross joined the conversation, saying she understands that the process is different at the RDKB compared to in Grand Forks, but she also thought it was important that the individual involved have knowledge of rural life and agriculture. 

“I think it’s equally important, if not more important, that the representative have a clear understanding of the issues in rural communities,” she said, adding that her campaign platform was on bringing the rural and the urban communities closer together. “We really need to really dig deep to understand what is going on our rural communities, how we can support them, how what happens in that community impacts the city, just like what happens in the city impacts our rural communities.”

She said she supports Krog in that role but would like to be the alternate for the position. 

Wirishagin reminded Ross that the voice at the RDKB is the voice of the community, “When you go up to the regional table as an alternate you are speaking on behalf of this council this  community not your own personal views.” He went on to say that she has to represent council at the the RDKB meetings even if it disagree with her personal opinion, to which Ross replied “that’s a given.” 

Council voted Krog into the position with Konrad and Butler not voting in favour of the motion. 

Thompson then nominated Ross for the role of alternate and the motion was carried. 

At the end of the meeting, Konrad addressed the public, thanking them for their attendance and the support he has received from the citizens, his wife and friends. 

“This honour has been bestowed upon me by you, the citizens, of Grand Forks. I’ve achieved many accolades in my life but this is, by far, the apex of them all. I’m proud that I’ll be able to serve you for the next four years and I make it my pledge to never betray the trust you have put in me.” 

Council then adjourned the meeting. Council’s next meeting will be held at the Canpar office. 

Categories: GeneralPolitics