There was nothing standard about some standard committee appointments that were made at the inaugural meeting of Port Alberni’s new city council on Monday.
Newly elected mayor, John Douglas, hopes to examine a new system of administration that does away with the traditional portfolios, but these appointments had to be made as part of the community charter, he said.
The first appointments were a surprise to many in the crowd, as Douglas and Coun. Cindy Solda were appointed directors of the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District. Douglas wields five votes in his new position with the regional district, while Solda will hold four.
The move displaces Coun. Hira Chopra, who was the city’s representative to the ACRD for the last eight years—five of them served as chairman of the board. Former mayor Ken McRae was the second city appointee.
The appointment is a long time coming for Solda, she said. “I’ve been waiting for years now so it’s about time.”
Solda says she made the pitch for the spot three years ago but Chopra was re-appointed by virtue of his experience. “I made the pitch again this time,” Solda said.
“I told John that I wanted the regional district — it’s my time.”
Solda has served in other committees in the past as liaison, but oftentimes it was in name only, she said. “That’s frustrating when you know that you’re capable of doing more.”
The ACRD is a committee of substance that gives here something that she’s been chomping at the bit for: a challenge. “I like to be busy, I like to get in and get my hands dirty and I like a challenge,” Solda said. “I have to be challenged because if you’re not then there’s no point in being here.”
The appointment is also a bit of a homecoming for Solda. “I’m not just a city girl, I grew up in Beaver Creek — I’m a creeker,” she said.
Being on the ACRD will serve her well with the Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities (AVICC). “You have to know what the issues in the regional district are in order to lobby for them more effectively with the province,” she said.
Chopra took the move in stride. “John wants change and that’s OK because life goes on,” Chopra said. “He wants to give other people the experience now.”
Supporting Solda was an exercise in reciprocity. “Cindy supported me for all these years so it’s only fair that I support her.”
Chopra never made a pitch to be the first alternate. “I already served on the board and looked after the city’s interests,” he said.
Chopra retains his positions on the audit and personnel committees, and will serve as acting mayor in February and August. Each councillor will take turns as acting mayor, sitting in for Douglas when he is unavailable.