Port Moody’s new mayor and council sought to bridge some of the rancour and division exposed during campaigning for last month’s civic election in addresses at Tuesday’s inaugural meeting and swearing in ceremony.
In fact, giving each councillor a chance to make a short speech was the first step in the healing process, the city’s new mayor, Rob Vagramov, said.
Vagramov, 26, upset two-time incumbent Mike Clay by 394 votes to become one of Canada’s youngest mayors.
The campaign, Vagramov said, was very much a referendum on the direction the city was headed on growth and development.
“This mandate is change at city hall to change the changes proposed for Port Moody in the past,” he said, adding the election results clearly favoured “a future of moderate growth.”
Vagramov vowed that growth has to respect the city’s heritage, landscape and “small-town feel,” while “looking optimistically to a future of success.”
In her address, returning councillor Diana Dilworth conceded the campaign had been divisive.
“Our community cannot thrive with division,” she said, adding it was time to heal wounds and “move forward.”
Coun. Steve Milani, a newcomer, affirmed council has to “work together” to ensure Port Moody retains its “character and charm” amidst pressure to grow.
“We got this,” he said.
Another council rookie, Amy Lubik, acknowledged, “when we come together… that’s when we come to stronger decisions and a stronger community.”
Coun. Hunter Madsen, who reprised his successful run in last year’s by-election by amassing the most votes of any councillor this year, said the test of council’s commitment to “collaborative civility” will come quickly and frequently “because there’s a ton of work ahead of us and important, difficult decisions headed our way that will affect every dimension of the city’s future.”
Vagramov said that work is looming.
“By January, we should be in the deep end,” he said.