Mayor Dan Curtis looks on while city councillors sign documents during the swearing-in ceremony at Whitehorse City Hall on Monday. (Mike Thomas/Yukon News)

New Whitehorse city council sworn in

Councillors say they’re excited to get started on strategic planning

When the new council was sworn in on Oct. 29, mayor Dan Curtis took time out of his speech to thank the previous council.

There was a significant change-up in council during this election, with three new councillors (Jan Stick, Steve Roddick and Laura Cabott) taking seats formerly occupied by Rob Fendrick, who didn’t run, and Betty Irwin and Roslyn Woodcock, who did.

Curtis said it’s impossible to move forward as a new council without acknowledging the efforts of the past.

“I know that Betty Irwin served at this table for three terms. Three concurrent terms. And Robert Fendrick sat here for a term, as did Roslyn Woodcock, serving during the last term,” he said. “I want to thank them for representing our city and our territory. Their hard work doesn’t go unnoticed or unappreciated … from the bottom of my heart I thank all three of them for what they’ve done. And they have made our city a better place, just like the Oath of Athens asked us.”

All six councillors and the mayor swore an oath of office and the Oath of Athens, which promises to “never bring disgrace to this city” and to “transmit this city not only not less but greater, better and more beautiful than it was transmitted to us.”

Curtis afterwards explained the significance of the chain of office, which is meant to signify the weight of holding up a community.

He choked up as he mentioned that his brother was in the room.

“My brother Mike is joining us here today and it’s the first time in (my) three terms he was able to,” Curtis said.

“This chain of office was given to the city of Whitehorse by Whitehorse Copper in 1982. And as my brother Mike would recognize, my father, our father, our dad, worked there for many years. And he passed away the very year this chain of office was given to the city of Whitehorse. So it feels pretty special. It feels pretty light. Not just because we have such an amazing team of council, but I feel like I’ve got a little bit of help.”

Coun. Samson Hartland, returning for a third term, said he was also thinking of people who have helped move the city forward. He called the feeling “bittersweet,” saying he’s excited to work with the new council, but that he will miss Irwin and Woodcock.

At the same time, he said, it’s a new day.

Hartland said he is excited to get to work on strategic planning, which will begin the second week of November. That’s when council will bring new ideas to the table and discuss where council priorities will lie for the next three years.

“It’s going to set the direction in a big way,” he said.

Stick, who was a councillor in the mid-2000s before becoming an MLA for the NDP, said she’s excited to work as a team to realize goals. To some degree, she said, that’s what she did at the level of territorial politics, the difference being that parties are coming from different places in trying to move forward.

“This will be different,” she said, laughing. “I think I like this better.”

Stick, too, was thinking of the past, noting she had opted to sit at council table in the seat of former city Coun. Florence Roberts, who died of leukemia in 2017.

She said she looks forward to working hard and having fun.

The new council will begin its weekly meetings on Nov. 5 at 5:30 p.m.

Contact Amy Kenny at amy.kenny@yukon-news.com

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