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Port Moody council ushers in a new era of change

Port Moody council has a new look and renewed optimism it can work together.
[From left to right] Port Moody's incoming council, including Mayor Meghan Lahti, incumbent councillors Amy Lubik and Diana Dilworth, and newcomers Haven Lurbiecki, Samantha Agtarap, Callan Morrison and Kyla Knowles, hoist a toast after their inaugural meeting on Nov. 1, 2022, at Inlet Theatre.

"Change has come."

With those words, veteran Port Moody councillor Meghan Lahti took the oath of office from Provincial Court Judge Gregory M. Rideout and pulled on the ceremonial chain as the city's new mayor Tuesday (Nov. 1) at Inlet Theatre.

In her inaugural address, Lahti pledged to bring "positive change at city hall through good governance" that will practise "fairness, due process and transparency."

She said those elements will be critical if Port Moody is to move forward on such issues as the revitalization of its waterfront, development of the downtown, the expansion of park space and other amenities, as well as enhancing opportunities for the arts, climate change and reconciliation.

"We have to turn away from the election mindset and lean into the governance mindset," Lahti said.

"We’re here representing all the stakeholders of Port Moody."

Then, putting her words into action, Lahti announced an immediate pause to all of the city's current committees until the new council completes its strategic plan so their work can better align with council’s objectives.

As well, new standing committees will be formed to guide council in areas like strategic priorities and governance.

"Council is better served by better, more thoughtful discussions," Lahti said, adding she’ll also be opening her doors to the community every Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. to hear their concerns and suggestions.

"Anyone is welcome, whether you're a friend or a foe."

In fact, change was a constant theme as each member of the new council made brief inaugural remarks.

But it was newly minted councillor Callan Morrison who referenced the most striking difference from the previous four years when council comprised three men and four women; he's now the only male.

"I look forward to working with these women," he said, to a round of applause.

Another council newcomer, Samantha Agtarap, said the group looks to bring "a new era of collaboration and unity" after a term that was often marked by rancour and divisiveness.

Incumbent Coun. Amy Lubik, who retained her seat by the luck of the draw last Friday (Oct. 28) after a judicial recount of votes from two polls determined her and candidate David Stuart each finished with the same number of votes, said council has to "find ways to avoid increasing polarization."

She said that will only happen by listening to residents.

"We're a small city in an era of multiple, complex issues."

The only other returning councillor, Diana Dilworth, agreed.

"I'm optimistic we can all turn our backs on divisiveness."