‘We want change’: Harrison Mayor Wood acknowledges criticisms of former administration, makes promises for the new

The members of the 2022-2026 Harrison Hot Springs council are seated for the first time on Monday, Nov. 7. (Adam Louis/Observer)The members of the 2022-2026 Harrison Hot Springs council are seated for the first time on Monday, Nov. 7. (Adam Louis/Observer)
Inauguration Day in Harrison was met with full ceremony, including a bagpiper and RCMP officers in full red serge. (Adam Louis/Observer)Inauguration Day in Harrison was met with full ceremony, including a bagpiper and RCMP officers in full red serge. (Adam Louis/Observer)
Former councillor Ray Hooper smiles as he accepts a commemorative plaque for his service. (Adam Louis/Observer)Former councillor Ray Hooper smiles as he accepts a commemorative plaque for his service. (Adam Louis/Observer)
Former councillor Gerry Palmer shakes hands with new councillor and former mayor Leo Facio. (Adam Louis/Observer)Former councillor Gerry Palmer shakes hands with new councillor and former mayor Leo Facio. (Adam Louis/Observer)
Former councillor Samantha Piper poses with former mayor Leo Facio with her commemorative plaque. (Adam Louis/Observer)Former councillor Samantha Piper poses with former mayor Leo Facio with her commemorative plaque. (Adam Louis/Observer)
It was a full house in Memorial Hall during the first council meeting of the new term in Harrison Hot Springs. (Adam Louis/Observer)It was a full house in Memorial Hall during the first council meeting of the new term in Harrison Hot Springs. (Adam Louis/Observer)
Mayor Ed Wood makes his opening speech as Coun. Leo Facio listens. (Adam Louis/Observer)Mayor Ed Wood makes his opening speech as Coun. Leo Facio listens. (Adam Louis/Observer)

In an evening of pomp and celebration, New Harrison Hot Springs Mayor Ed Wood’s opening remarks sparked some controversy.

Following the swearing-in ceremony, Wood briefly brought up a number of concerns he heard prior to the election.

“As I was campaigning, I went door-to-door and had an opportunity to hear the concerns,” Wood said. “To name a few, poorly-designed development, negative interaction with senior village office administration and a lack of community engagement. The votes say it all – we want change.”

RELATED: Ed Wood is mayor-elect of Harrison Hot Springs

Coun. Leo Facio – the outgoing mayor – took umbrage to this portion of Wood’s remarks.

“The inaugural meeting, in many cases, is an evening meant to be a happy occasion, but it turned into criticism of the former council,” Facio told The Observer the following day. Facio felt Wood’s mention of the criticisms along the campaign trail was in bad taste and unprofessional.

“I certainly hope the mayor takes time to apologize to former councillors,” he added. “I feel very concerned about this.”

Wood said Coun. Ray Hooper inspired him to run for office in the first place. Both former councillors Gerry Palmer and Samantha Piper, who were also in the audience, left before Wood finished his inaugural address.

“You have my commitment to you, as your mayor, to always listen with an open mind, to have empathy and truly engage in our community,” Wood said.

Wood added he trusts the new council – two members of whom were in the outgoing administration – can “ask the hard questions” and debate them in a respectful manner.

For the years ahead, Wood envisions sustainable development and increased efforts to fight the effects of climate change. He hopes to change the procedure of council meetings, proposing a bylaw to allow the public to ask questions toward the beginning of the meeting and before the council makes decisions.

RELATED: Council sees two new arrivals as Buckley, Jackson elected

Members of the outgoing council – Palmer, Piper and Hooper – were presented with commemorative plaques and thanked for their service to the community.

The council received the final election results. John Buckley earned 638 votes, followed by Allan Jackson with 504, incumbent Michie Vidal at 440, Facio at 365 votes. Council candidate Leslie Ghezesan earned 314 votes.

Wood was elected mayor with 43.7 per cent of the vote (337 votes), defeating Piper (264 votes, 34.2 per cent) and candidate John Allen (170 votes, 22 per cent).

Members of the village staff have been asked to draft amendments to remove the mail ballot voting provisions and to place election signage regulations in the general election bylaw.

The Harrison Hot Springs Village Council meets again on Monday, Nov. 21 at Memorial Hall (290 Esplanade Avenue) at 7 p.m. Meetings will be broadcast via Zoom and later archived on the village’s YouTube channel. To learn more, visit harrisonhotsprings.ca.


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adam.louis@ ahobserver.com

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