District of Kent Municipal Hall was full Monday night for the inaugural meeting of the District’s new council. (From left to right: Agassiz RCMP Sgt. Darren Rennie, councillors Stan Watchorn, Susan Spaeti, Kristen Schwichtenberg, Duane Post, new mayor Sylvia Pranger, the Honourable Judge Wendy Young.) (Nina Grossman/The Observer)

New councils inaugurated in Kent, Harrison

Fresh faces join returning councillors, mayors in both municipalities

Inaugural ceremonies in Kent and Harrison Monday night celebrated new councils in both municipalities.

In the District of Kent, a piper from the Harrison Highlanders led a procession into Municipal Hall where returning councillors Susan Spaeti and Duane Post, alongside new councillors Kerstin Schwichtenberg and Stan Watchorn were sworn into office by Judge Wendy Young.

Sylvia Pranger, who has sat both in the mayor and councillor’s seat, took the oath for her role as mayor for the next four years. She thanked outgoing councillor Darcy Striker and mayor John Van Laerhoven for their work in the District.

“You have left big shoes to fill,” Pranger said of Van Laerhoven. “You have both been an inspiration and a pleasure to work with.”

Outgoing mayor John Van Laerhoven has had a career as a teacher and a municipal politician. He joked that his next venture might be stand up comedy at Monday’s inaugural meeting. (Nina Grossman/The Observer)

Van Laerhoven gave a cheerful good bye speech, thanking DOK staff and councillors for their work on projects fulfilled during his mayoral term including the new Kent Harrison Search and Rescue building, the Community Recreation and Cultural Centre, the Agassiz spray park and more recently, the Hammersley pump station and shoulder enhancement project.

Van Laerhoven offered the new council some advice garnered from his previous career as a teacher: “Always maintain a sense of humour,” he said. “And don’t sweat the small stuff.”

Related: Mayor-elect Pranger hopes to maintain past work of District of Kent council

In Harrison Hot Springs, onlookers filled the Memorial Hall to watch the incoming council sworn in.

Incumbent mayor Leo Facio said his 22 years in municipal politics has been “an honour and a real pleasure.” The mayor was sworn in for his fourth term leading the Village council. (Submitted)

Another Harrison Highlander led the evening’s procession before Sts’ailes chief Ralph Leon led a traditional prayer and Madalyn and Jack Clempson perfomed ‘O Canada.’

Judge Brent Hoy administered Oaths of Office to incumbent councillor Samantha Piper and new councillors Gerry Palmer, Ray Hooper and Michie Vidal.

Incumbent mayor Leo Facio took his fourth Oath of Office as Village mayor.

After their first seating as a new council, Facio gave an inaugural address and said the newly-formed leadership has “a unique opportunity to make a difference, not just for today, but to lay a foundation for a better tomorrow.”

“There will be many challenges moving forward to improve, impress, explore, expand and deliver,” he added. I am looking forward to working with all of you and honoured to serve this community for the next four years.”

Related: Facio looking forward to working with Harrison’s new council



nina.grossman@ahobserver.com

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