Each of the 210 seats set out in Cobourg's Victoria Hall Concert Hall was filled, as citizens turned out to see their new council sworn in with poetry, cries and music.
These were provided, respectively, by poet laureate Ted Amsden, town crier Mandy Robinson and the Concert Band of Cobourg under the direction of Paul Storms.
One by one, each of the seven members who will serve Cobourg through 2022 came forward to be sworn in by Justice of the Peace Jack LeBlanc and then to state his or her oath of allegiance and declaration of office publicly. Then, to add to the pageantry, each signed the appropriate papers with a white quill pen.
The program listed the council co-ordinator appointments for the coming term – economic-development services for Mayor John Henderson, general government services for Deputy Mayor Suzanne Seguin, planning and development services for Councillor Nicole Beatty, protection services for Councillor Aaron Burchat, community services for Adam Bureau, parks and recreation services for Councillor Emily Chorley, and public-works services for Councillor Brian Darling.
Several advisory-committee and local-board appointments were announced, with the remainder to be determined at a later date. Appointments made include Henderson and Burchat to the Cobourg Police Services Board, Burchat to the Joint Animal Control Services Board-Municipal Animal Services, Henderson to Northumberland County Council (with Seguin as alternate), and Henderson to the Town of Cobourg Holdings Inc.
The first vote of the new council was taken after the announcement to confirm these appointments.
Henderson gave his inaugural address prior to the motion, acknowledging such significant audience members as past mayors Peter Delanty, Joan Chalovich and Gil Brocanier. He also thanked retiring councillors Forrest Rowden and Debra McCarthy in addition to Brocanier – collectively, he said, these three had given more than half a century of public service to their community.
“It's a new beginning for the Town of Cobourg, to celebrate their renewed leadership and promote dialogue, starting Jan. 7 in council chambers,” Henderson stated.
Returning councillors Darling, Burchat and Seguin bring their own experience, he added, while the new councillors bring enthusiasm and fresh perspectives.
All have a jam-packed to-do list, and Henderson named a few of these projects - asset-management planning, the Jack Heenan-Memorial Arena assessment review, promotion of Venture 13, the 2019 budget process, just to name a few.
One of the first orders of business – because of the pressing timeline - will be the process to determine whether Cobourg will take advantage of a one-time-only chance to opt out of having retail cannabis outlets under current cannabis-legalization legislation. A survey launched within the last couple of weeks has had almost 2,000 responses already. Henderson urged everyone to weigh in (on-line at www.cobourg.ca) before the Jan. 2 deadline and to attend the 6 p.m. public-information meeting on Dec. 17 in order to have their input taken into account for the eventual council vote on the matter Jan. 14.
“It's an awesome privilege to serve this community, and a huge responsibility which I know you will eagerly undertake as you adapt to your co-ordinator roles,” the new mayor said.
“I will as mayor encourage different points of view and debate in our council chambers. These different perspectives will allow us to gain a full understanding of the issues before us. As we conduct the business of the municipality, I truly believe every one of you will honour the integrity of the office that you assumed tonight.”
Henderson also took a moment to encourage the citizens to undertake their own involvement through membership on advisory committees, quasi-judiciary forums, even service clubs.
“We will continue to review and update our public-engagement policy to ensure your ideas are heard and addressed,” he pledged.
Henderson voiced his hopes for an engaging and progressive term that will cultivate the culture of excellence.
“I would be honoured to be your incoming mayor and have the opportunity to work with this enthusiastic council, experienced and dedicated staff, and the good citizens of this amazing community, so let's begin today to build a new chapter.
“I encourage all citizens to be engaged and join us on this exciting adventure. Through our collective effort, the Town of Cobourg will continue to be a vibrant community with a bright future ahead.”