In case you missed it, here’s what the new mayor, Iain Lovatt, had to say upon receiving his official chain of office. The full text follows, but you can hear it at calendar.townofws.ca/council.
“First let me thank you all for attending the 18th inauguration of mayor and council for the Town of Whitchurch-Stouffville.
“I would like to start by thanking the office of the mayor-elect (specifically Julie Angliss) and clerk’s department for organizing this inaugural ceremony. There have literally been hundreds of hours put into making this evening memorable for all of us. Thank you so much.
“Thank you to Christina, Sydnee, Victoria & Graham for your participation tonight. It is involvement from community members that make these proceedings even more special.
“I wouldn’t be the man I am today without the woman who agreed to marry me 24 years ago. Mary, you have faithfully stuck by me in all of life’s journeys and I have never loved you more. This campaign was especially interesting but, babe, we made it! I can not imagine doing life without you and am thankful for your support as we start this next chapter of life.
“To my kids, Maizie, Aidan and Ellie – I am so proud to be your dad and proud of who you have become as young, passionate, caring and amazing young adults. Maizie and Aidan couldn’t be here tonight because they are away at university studying for exams (or so they say) but I am so thankful that Ellie, you are here representing Team Lovatt. I love you.
“To my campaign team, of which many are here tonight, my sincerest thanks and gratitude because without your support and tireless efforts, we would not have achieved any success.
“To members of council, congratulations on your successful campaigns. I cannot express how excited I am to work together with you and build a cohesive team to move Whitchurch-Stouffville forward into the future.
“Tonight we usher in a new term of council and I believe it goes without saying that the desire for an experienced team was important to the voters.
“I am humbled by the confidence placed in me to move us forward with a vision for a prosperous future. The council you elected is represented by strong, experienced leaders who today commit to act in the best interests of their respective ward constituents and all residents of Whitchurch-Stouffville as a whole. Richard and Sue, I’d like to welcome you back to the dais. I look forward to collaborating with all of council and staff over the next four years. It’s going to be a great term.
“Recently, I have become an avid listener of podcasts and a line that resonated with me last week was, ‘your destiny is often locked in your past.’ This got me thinking of the mayors and councils that have gone before us, and even back to 1804 and the founder of Stoufferville, Abraham Stouffer. In 1804, full of hope, inspiration and a vision for what could be, Abraham Stouffer and his wife Elizabeth immigrated from Pennsylvania to this area, built a sawmill and grist mill on the banks of Duffins Creek in 1820 and began the founding of the community we now love to call home.
“This same hope and vision for a prosperous future, that originally filled the heart of Abraham Stouffer, fills my heart tonight and I am sure filled the hearts of 52 former mayors and councillors who have sat in these seats since amalgamation. We all serve with the goal to make our community great and I believe it goes without saying that we stand on the shoulders of some giants who broke through the glass ceilings to establish new floors for those to come after them.
“When speaking last, you always run the risk of someone else stealing your thunder which Councillors Smith and Bartley did but, I again, want to formally welcome back to our council chambers York Regional chairman and former mayor Wayne Emmerson. Thank you for coming sir. I truly look forward to working with you over the next four years to achieve great things for not only the region but the home town you dearly love. You are very welcome here.
“If there was a consistent theme I heard while campaigning in the election, it was our need to heal as a community and move forward. Emotional healing is often very hard to quantify because it’s not like a cut that you see scab over and literally heal in time.
“There are many people who have been hurt in our community over the last number of years for various reasons that I don’t need to get into tonight, but many have lost trust in the political process and because of that we have found ourselves weary, cynical and divided as a community.
I feel it’s important as your new mayor, to, as literally as I can, turn the page tonight, express my sadness for what has gone on and set a vision to heal and move forward together. So, from my office, I want to apologize to those who have been hurt on all sides and pray that tonight can be a good first step towards our healing.
“We are an amazing community and I firmly believe there is far more that unites us than divides us. As a spiritual mentor of mine often says, ‘the best is yet to come’ and because words have power, I want to declare this over our town tonight. The best is yet to come.
“While it is important to learn from the past, we need to move forward with an outlook on the future and becoming the best that we, as a community, can be.
“When I published my 100 Day Action Plan, before the election, I knew there were some lofty goals listed. But even though today is officially the beginning of the new term, I am happy to say we are already well on our way to hitting targets and achieving some of these goals.
“I have consistently communicated that unity on council is my number one goal. I will always contend for team and I am proud to stand before you today and say that I believe we are all committed to this principle. As we grow in our relationships, trust will inherently grow as well, and I am fully confident that the issues of the past will stay firmly in the past and we will work together for you, the residents of Whitchurch-Stouffville.
“Council and the director team will spend some uninterrupted time in early February developing our strategic priorities for the next four years and beyond. We will look at every department, set goals, and count the financial costs associated. We will then be in a position to bring these goals to you the public for input. It has to be a team effort and I hope that we can break down any walls that stand in the way moving forward.
“I have been very vocal that I believe that our underserviced and underutilized commercial/industrial lands are a golden goose of sorts and key to our town’s long term financial viability. There are numerous ownership groups who have interests in the 404 corridor and we need to all get on the same page to move forward. I am happy to say these meetings began in November and council and staff are moving forward in establishing a plan to take to the region and the province.
“Another issue we are getting after is developing a plan to solve the lack of internet servicing to our rural areas in town. A plan addressing this long standing issue will be dealt with this term. We have already begun to have meetings with our MPP and MP to create a strategy to bring this essential service to rural Whitchurch-Stouffville. This is a high priority for myself and all of our rural councillors.
“I personally believe in setting goals, and not easily achievable ones. I think it’s better to get stretched in overcoming obstacles with the chance of failing because it’s when we achieve these goals that real success can be claimed. I have set a stretch goal for us in that I want Whitchurch-Stouffville to be a municipal employer of choice in the province. This is obviously going to take time, but I believe our future is bright and the ground is ready for planting a strategy for rebuilding our reputation, one we can all be proud of again.
“It goes without saying that the press Whitchurch-Stouffville received over the last few years created challenges in retaining and attracting staff to fill vacancies. I am very happy to say that this reality has done a full 180 degree turn. We have filled all but one vacancy in our planning department and have a growing staff complement who are excited about our future.
“I have been blown away, and I believe I speak for all of council, by the response from staff since the election and can honestly say that the excitement for our future is almost palpable. Residents and business owners alike are also excited about what the future holds and a day doesn’t go by when I’m stopped on the street or in a store and told as much. I know that will fade as time progresses let me just say, the honeymoon feels pretty darn good right now!
“There are exciting days ahead for Whitchurch-Stouffville. Days filled with hope and new opportunities. But as a community evolves, change is inevitable and change can be hard at times for some. I can say that in spite of some of the challenges we will face this term, we will learn, we will grow and we will become a stronger community for it.
“Our history has been a theme for me this evening. Clearly that podcast line had an impact. So tonight I will end with this. Our town was made up of 16 unique hamlets and communities, each with its own cultural and historical story.
“Today, Whitchurch-Stouffville is made up of over 48,000 residents, each family bringing its own unique experience to our collective story.
“I see our town much like a stained glass window. There is a beautiful window in the foyer which I’m sure we pass by often without much thought. Each piece of glass (or family in this case) has beautiful characteristics on its own, different colours, shapes and sizes, texture and shading. But it’s not until all the pieces come together, that we see the beauty of the window itself. The growing, diverse, cultural mosaic of our town is what will define us in our future and what will makes Whitchurch-Stouffville a truly beautiful and amazing place to live, work and play.
“Thank you again for placing your confidence in me and I look forward to serving as your mayor in the future. I for one am very excited because the best is yet to come.”
Whitchurch-Stouffville Mayor Iain Lovatt, Dec. 4