November 8, 2018, marked the first day of the 2018-2022 Sunshine Coast Regional District Board. After a morning of orientation, photographs and lunch with senior staff, we proceeded to the Inaugural Meeting. This involved taking our oaths of office and then electing a Chair and Vice-Chair for the 2018-2019 year. I was acclaimed as Chair and delivered the following address.
We are honoured to be meeting today on the unceded territory of the shíshálh nation. Thank you Director Julius for the wonderful welcome.
Thank you to everyone here in the audience today – other elected officials, friends, family and staff.
Thank you to all the candidates across the Sunshine Coast who let their names stand and ran for office. The process is not easy and requires commitment, passion and knowledge of your community. Your participation in the electoral process enriched the conversations, and, whether you were successfully elected or not, you are to be commended for putting yourselves forward. Thank you.
Thank you to all retiring councillors, mayors, directors and school board trustees, whether it was by choice or driven by the public office. Your energy and past commitment to the community is greatly appreciated. Thank you for belonging to us and remember to enjoy your life outside the microscope of public office.
Thank you to all the staff at each of our government offices and throughout our organizations. Election periods can put additional stress of staff as they wait for new boards and councils to be chosen. Thank you for your continued patience and professionalism.
To my fellow directors at this table, congratulations on your new role. Thank you for selecting me as your chair. I am deeply honoured to have been chosen for this role and promise to do my best to provide a collaborative and collegial environment for us to work, learn and lead together.
We have a number of immediate priorities facing this board and the Sunshine Coast community – water, solid waste management, economic development, affordable housing to name a few. Our citizens have been vocal through this election period, telling us what their concerns are.
This board is committed to being transparent and collaborative with our constituents and other local governments, including our First Nations partner of the shíshálh nation and building our relationship with the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh nation.
We look forward to a continued and improved collaboration between our staff and those of our partner municipalities and nation. We will work towards efficiencies and communication structures, increasing the transparency and approachability for all citizenry, including our youth and most vulnerable.
Our board will be vocal advocates for the Sunshine Coast in provincial matters such as highway safety and federally as in the case of derelict vessels. We will do all we can to combat the global issue of climate change, protecting our environment for the generations that follow.
We cannot accomplish big goals without bringing everyone with us. Through consultation, conversation and community partnership, we ask the citizens of the Sunshine Coast to join us in this journey as we move forward, together.
On a personal note, I realized sometime last week that, at 43, I may be the youngest woman elected to the SCRD, and now the youngest person to hold this position as chair. The irony is that I may also be the longest serving elected person on the Sunshine Coast.
This election has given me hope, watching many women and young people run for office from diverse backgrounds, many successfully being elected. In 2014, we only had eight women out of twenty-nine elected positions, including the shíshálh nation. In 2018, we now have sixteen out of twenty-nine. Over 50%. This is a first for our community and an impressive benchmark to note. Thank you especially to Director Siegers and Director McMahon for your commitment to ensuring women were supported in running.
The Sunshine Coast is a special place, a unique blend of communities, voices and experiences. Through our shared commitment and with respectful dialogue and collaboration, this board will build on its strong foundation with a strategic direction focused on creating a better community for all citizens.
Thank you all for being here this afternoon.