Invermere’s past and future mayors thanked outgoing councillors Paul Denchuk and Justin Atterbury for the contributions they made to the community.
Gerry Taft, who will be trading the mayor’s seat for a role as a councillor, and Al Miller, who will officially become the mayor at the District’s swearing-in ceremony for the new council on November 6th, praised their outgoing colleagues for their service.
“Both of their minds were constantly looking at doing the best for their town, without costing the taxpayer big dollars. They were committed to the betterment for all,” Mr. Miller said. “I believe as a community we are all better off because of their work.”
Mr. Miller said Mr. Denchuk was quick to speak up for the environment and to advocate for a more accessible community, while Mr. Taft said Mr. Denchuk “was reasonable and balanced in budgeting and financial discussions, and always voted to invest in the community and in the people in the community.”
Their council colleague Greg Anderson said: “I found Paul was a positive influence on Council
as he was always prepared to challenge us to collectively address ongoing environmental and social issues.”
Issues he helped champion included things like inadequate affordable housing, the future use of plastic bags, community composting, developing alternative energy sources, etc.”
While Mr. Denchuk strove to move the District in the direction of “a more green, clean, sustainable future,” his ideas didn’t often receive the support he sought.
“I felt like one hand clapping,” he said.
He believes the most-urgent issues for the new council to manage are to do with the District office’s staffing and management as well as addressing the need for affordable housing. He intends to go to a council meeting to share his advice with the new team.
About Mr. Atterbury, Mr. Taft said: “Justin is a great example of an involved and invested council member, someone who truly cares, who is at the council table to have an impact and to promote action.”
Some of that action included helping bring Columbia Valley Centre to life.
Mr. Miller said: “Justin was our fundraising guru and chair. Many hours were spent in committee and on the phone trying to pull people together for the common good of our new centre.”
Mr. Atterbury said working to make the centre a reality was “probably the best highlight” from his seven years as a councillor.
“I enjoyed my time and maybe I’ll get right back into it in a few years but right now I’m just taking a breather,” he said. “Any kind of controversy that came up, obviously you’re going to be in the thick of it (as a council member), so it’s going to be weird being a spectator now.”
As for advice for the new council and especially for brand-new politician Kayja Becker he said: “always keep an open mind and don’t let your own personal opinions sway you from what people are telling you is important.”