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County’s new mayor thrilled with public attendance at inaugural meeting

Flanked by County CAO James Hepburn, and Clerk Kim White are the municipal councillors for 2018-2022: John Hirsch, Stewart Bailey, Ernie Margetson, Bill Roberts, Jamie Forrester, Bill McMahon, Mayor Steve Ferguson, Janice Maynard, Andreas Bolik, Mike Harper, Phil Prinzen, Brad Nieman, Phil St-Jean and Kate MacNaughton.

Hosting the inaugural meeting of council at Picton’s Regent Theatre instead of the traditional Shire Hall setting was worth the effort, says Prince Edward County’s new mayor Steve Ferguson.

He was “absolutely thrilled” so many members of the public attended, as Shire Hall would not have properly accommodated the 150 confirmed attendees, let alone additional audience members that filled most of the seats at the theatre.

“It’s a reflection of the enthusiasm and the optimism the public has for this council which I felt from the second of the election results. The public really got behind this group,” said Ferguson. “And there’s a lot of enthusiasm from council to serve the constituents.” At orientation sessions last week, and with three more days this week, “they’re like thoroughbreds at the gates waiting for that bell to go off so they can charge. It is really great to witness that.”

Justice of the Peace Ernie Parsons administers the oath of allegiance and declaration of office to Mayor Steve Ferguson

Justice of the Peace Ernie Parsons administered the oath of allegiance and declaration of office and also noted pleasure in seeing a solid house at the theatre.

To laughter and applause, he jokingly noted confirmation that “there’s absolutely no evidence of Russian collusion in this election.”

The former MPP told council this was probably the easiest meeting they will attend, but it likely won’t be the most satisfying.

“There will be evenings when you leave the council meeting and drive home and you will say to yourself ‘We did something tonight that will make the County a better place to live, to work, to farm and to do business.’ And you will get a satisfaction out of that, I can assure you, that will last the rest of your life. To be part of a joint effort that improves your community is extremely satisfying.”

Mayor Ferguson was gowned and invested with the Chain of Office by past Mayor Robert Quaiff.

The County’s new mayor, in his inaugural speech, drew on the words of his great-grandfather W.J. Ferguson, who was elected mayor of Stratford in 1905.

Mayor Steve Ferguson

“The occupancy of this chair, which has come to me through the good will of the electors, I accept with due appreciation and sensibility of its importance and responsibility.”

Based on ideas he gathered on the campaign trail he pledged a personal mantra to “galvanize, collaborate and advocate”.

“I pledge to galvanize participation by the many talented people in this community to help address our challenges; to be a collaborative and action-oriented leader and to be a strong advocate for our municipality with our neighbours, the provincial and the federal government.

“Whether we can count the number of generations that our families have been in Prince Edward County, or whether we are relative newcomers who live in a house that will forever be called by someone else’s name, we are all neighbours,” he said. “In a small island community, it is imperative that neighbours work together to find creative and innovative ways to work with what we have to build something better, something greater.”

Coming up, he said, are plans to be creative to find revenue beyond the tax base; get behind the building of the Prince Edward County Memorial Hospital and more attainable housing; help businesses that are short of workers, and people who need employment.

“Together, with the creative talent in this community we can work to resolve these issues and will do so on a collaborative basis.”

Mayor Ferguson also welcomed the delegation from the Kouga Local Municipality in South Africa who are working alongside County staff in the Community Development Department.

Guest speakers were in agreement on collaboration and opportunities.

Adrianna Christie brought greetings on behalf of Bay of Quinte MP Neil Ellis.

“Being a former mayor, MP Ellis truly understands and appreciates the vital role mayors have in shaping the way our community members interact with local issues, receive public services and contribute toward the social and economic development of our community,” she said, noting she and MP Ellis look forward to working with the municipality.

Belleville Mayor Mitch Panciuk spoke of a vital relationship between the city and the County. “We look forward to strengthening partnerships as we move forward in making the Bay of Quinte region a great placd to live, work and play.”

Councillor Terry Cassidy, on behalf of Quinte West Mayor Jim Harrison and council, noted that beside being neighbours, “I want you to know we’re friends and ready to help… And when you’ve got a solution and we’re struggling, share your expertise with us. We are part of an area that works

Mohawk Elder David Jock delivered ‘The Words that Come Before all Else’

together, a partnership, and as part of that, is collaboration that we need to have amongst all of us in this great Bay of Quinte area.”

Warden Rodney Cooney brought greetings from the 14 municipalities in Hastings County, which shares contract EMS services with Prince Edward. He welcomed Mayor Ferguson as a member to the Eastern Ontario Wardens’ Caucus.

Lt. Col. Chris Comeau, Commanding Officer from Hastings Prince Edward Regiment also offered congratulations from the more than 200 members in the namesake regiment and welcomed communication.

While the new council will be heading back to Shire Hall, the public will be invited to attend the Mayor’s New Year’s Levee, set for Jan. 5 at the Prince Edward Community Centre.

The new council was piped into, and out of the inaugural meeting by Josh McFarlane.

A reception followed the meeting in the theatre lobby, featuring a selection of finger foods from Chef Michael Hoy.

 

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  1. Fred says:

    Pretty amazing indeed that in the list of priorities the water crisis is no where to be seen. I hope this was an oversight and not a sign of being out of touch. Time will tell after the celebratory aura ends.

  2. Jackie Soorsma says:

    I enjoyed being able to be part of the inauguration. Very well done. Thank you.

  3. Gary Mooney says:

    Pretty amazing — attendance of more than 300! During introduction of the new Counciil, there was applause for all, but also cheers for Mayor Ferguson and the two women on Council — Councillors Maynard (reelected) and MacNaughton (new).

    Outgoing Mayor Quaiff helped dress Mayor Ferguson in his robes of office, and took over doing up the buttons when the new mayor encountered difficulties.

    Mayor Ferguson has promised to “galvanize, collaborate and advocate”. By “galvanize”, he means involving County residents with particular expertise in County projects.

    Nice to see that several former Councillors — Dunlop, Fox, Gale, Graham and Turpin — attended to wish the new Council well.

    There’s a lot of optimism about the new Council, and high expectations for the coming term.

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