New beginnings. A clean slate. A fresh start. New opportunities. High expectations.
A new Niagara-on-the-Lake town council was sworn in Tuesday night, with fully half of the eight councillors being new faces, rookies elected to the often-thankless job of representing the interests of the residents of our fair town.
Plus a brand new lord mayor, not a rookie, but somewhat of a newcomer after being “away,” serving at the regional level for the past four years.
Congratulations to all those who have begun their term and no doubt can look forward to many long days and nights of reading reports, researching issues and listening to constituents.
Thanks and congratulations to all those who retired from council, including former lord mayor Betty Disero, who attended Tuesday’s inaugural meeting at the old Court House.
A nice touch added to the evening’s ceremony courtesy of Lord Mayor Gary Zalepa was allowing council members to informally introduce family members, friends and supporters in attendance – and some who were watching at home via live stream.
It’s wise to remember and acknowledge those, especially family, who while not elected, are among your biggest fans and supporters. And because, with all the work that lies ahead, great sacrifice and understanding will be asked of many of them.
The inclusion of a land acknowledgement by chief administrator Marnie Cluckie and a poignant address by Indigenous traditional knowledge helper Marie Louise – her presentation apparently a first for a NOTL council inauguration – were important, modern additions to the ceremonial first meeting of the new council.
Looking ahead, there will be plenty of occasions to discuss and debate the actions and decisions of the incoming council.
But it was refreshing to hear the new lord mayor promise “more listening and less talk” from the 2022-26 regime.
In a literal sense, Niagara-on-the-Lake town council has been renowned for its lengthy meetings that appear to run far longer than necessary thanks to lots of “talk.”
In a broader sense, if Zalepa means he wants council to be more attentive to the concerns of residents, then that, too, is welcome news.
We look forward to what the next four years will bring and wish our new council all the best.