Mayor Bill Holmberg and councillors pose at their inaugural meeting in the Houston municipal hall on Dec. 5. From back row

Houston swears in new council

Three new and three returning councillors joined Mayor Bill Holmberg for a swearing-in ceremony at the Houston municipal hall Dec. 5.

Three new and three returning councillors joined Mayor Bill Holmberg for a swearing-in ceremony at the Houston municipal hall Dec. 5.

“Welcome aboard everybody,” said Mayor Holmberg after inviting first-time councillors  Michalle Jolly, Dawn Potvin and Jonathan Van Barneveld to take a seat alongside returning councillors Shane Brienen, Rick Lundrigan and Bob Wheaton.

“It’s been a long time since we’ve had six members at the council table, so I’m pretty excited about that,” he said. Houston has had a vacancy since former councillor Jack Sullivan passed away in June.

Addressing the councillors, District staff, and the 30 friends and family members gathered at the hall, Mayor Holmberg said that although everyone an on a separate platforms, everyone on council agrees on their top priority:  24-hour health care.

“I think that rang a chord with the community and we’re going to need to push for that,” he said.

After they had all taken oaths to steer clear of any financial conflicts with their public duties, Mayor Holmberg announced who he had selected for various committee roles.

Most of the key committee roles will go to incumbents Brienen, Lundrigan and Wheaton.

“I didn’t put the new council members under a lot of pressure at the start,” Holmberg said. “And who knows, we may change it halfway through the term. But I think you need to go in and get your feet wet.”

Lundrigan, who was deputy mayor last term, will return to that role for the next year.

Mayor Holmberg chose to rotate that position for year two and three of the next council term, first to Shane Brienen and then to Bob Wheaton. Deputies act in place of the mayor if he is unable to attend council.

Along with Mayor Holmberg, Councillor Lundrigan will co-manage labour relations at the District and hold bank-signing authority for the town.

Lundrigan will also represent Houston on the Northern Development Initiative Trust—a regional cooperation that aims to develop the economy of northern and central B.C.

Councillor Wheaton will lead the panel that reviews Houston’s parcel taxes. Wheaton will also be council’s lead on the Economic Development Committee and the Prince George Treaty Advisory Committee.

Councillor Brienen will continue as council’s lead on the Houston Health Committee. He will also take Houston’s seat at the Omineca Beetle Action Committee—a regional corporation tasked with preparing northern B.C. for the impact of the mountain pine beetle.

Mayor Holmberg chose Councillor Potvin to represent Houston at the Northwest Regional Hospital District Board and to act as council’s liaison with the Houston public library.

Councillor Van Barneveld will head up Houston’s role at the Bulkley Valley Airshed Management Society and also act at council’s liaison with the Houston Chamber of Commerce.

Councillor Jolly will represent Houston at Partners for Climate Protection.

Mayor Holmberg will represent Houston at the Regional District, co-manage labour relations with Councillor Lundrigan and also handle emergency services with councillors Dawn Potvin and Bob Wheaton.

Mayor Holmberg closed by encouraging all the councillors to speak freely at the council table.

“If you have ideas, that’s one thing I do enjoy about the people we have here from the past term—we had ideas, we worked on them and we went forward unified.”