The new town council officially set sail on its four-year voyage together Monday night and in the words of Mayor June Caul, she has “every confidence that we are embarking on a future with great possibilities and outcomes.”
Mayor Caul and Couns. Michael Behan, Wendy Brunetta, Andrew Hallikas, Douglas Judson, John McTaggart, and Rick Wiedenhoeft were sworn in by Justice of the Peace Pat Clysdale-Cornell.
Mayor Caul then gave her inaugural address.
“I am excited to begin my new role with this council. We have a diverse group of strengths, abilities, and leadership,” she said.
“Thank you for caring so much about the future of our community," Mayor Caul added. "And that you are willing to go the extra mile to ensure the well-being of our residents.”
Mayor Caul noted council already has begun a relationship with the town's neighbours and that she is “committed to achieving a positive partnership to make the Point Park a great spot for our families to enjoy together just as it was when I was a child.”
“Marketing Fort Frances as a great destination spot, advertising our lowest electrical and power rates in Ontario, showing new families and tourists that we are the friendliest community in the province, promoting our library, our museum, own downtown shops, Rainy Lake Square, our park and marina, welcoming new business, and offering affordable houses for all ages—from young professionals to seniors as they transition to safer and more secure accommodations—these are some of the many great assets of this community,” she stressed.
The town recently acquired the Shevlin wood yard and, with careful planning and vision, there are many opportunities possible using that space, Mayor Caul noted, adding council also will maintain its relationship with Resolute regarding the mill properties and remain hopeful for a positive future outcome.
“I love this town I call Fort Frances," she remarked. ”My family continues to live here—now into our fifth generation.
“I have the best friends and co-workers I could ever hope for," she added. ”I feel safe walking down our streets and I know that if I say 'Hi' to everyone I meet, they will respond back with a greeting or a smile because it's okay to do that here.
“This is my town, this is your town. It's the best place to call home. Let's always be proud of that,” Mayor Caul concluded.
Mayor Caul also thanked local residents, and her family and friends, for supporting her, as well as town administration and the outgoing council for all their hard work and commitment.
In particular, she gave kudos to former mayor Roy Avis “for his unwavering leadership, guidance, and passion to make this community move forward through some very difficult years," a "positive advocate for our community," and her "friend and mentor through the last four years.”
“Roy, you are a true hero," Mayor Caul said. "I wish you renewed health, relaxation with family and friends, and the best of everything that comes your way, now and always.”
Mayor Caul appointed Coun. Hallikas as deputy mayor, then appointed councillors to serve on the town's numerous boards, committees, and commissions.
Coun. Hallikas will serve as the first chair of the committee of the whole, with Coun. Wiedenhoeft to be the vice-chair.
The chair of the committee rotates on a four-month basis.
The new council was piped into Council Chambers by Pipe Major Dr. Bruce Lidkea of the Fort Frances Highlanders.
Elder Joan Mainville welcomed the new council.
“I wish you all the very best and I know that it is a such an awesome, awesome thing that you have been elected by the people of Fort Frances,” she said.
“I know that it is a lot of hard work but I know you're up to it," added Mainville, later noting that "the Spirit will take good care of us" and that "we will work hard for our people.”
Pastor Brian Keffer performed the invocation prior to Monday night's ceremony.
The new council will hold its first regular meeting this coming Monday (Dec. 10).
The Declaration of Elected Office the mayor and council takes when being sworn in is as follows:
"I, _______________, having been elected to the office of mayor/councillor in the Municipality of the Town of Fort Frances, do solemnly promise and declare that:
"I will truly, faithfully, and impartially exercise this office to the best of my knowledge and ability.
"I have not received, and will not receive, any payment or reward, or promise thereof, for the exercise of this office in a biased, corrupt, or in any other improper manner.
"I will disclose any pecuniary interest, direct or indirect, in accordance with the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act.
"I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
“And I make this solemn promise and declaration conscientiously believing it to be true and knowing that it is of the same force and effect as if made under oath.”