November 12, 2014 - 7:34 AM
KELOWNA – It was obvious during the final regular meeting of the current Kelowna city council the elected officials became more than just colleagues over the last three years.
“I’m really so proud to be associated with all of you,” said outgoing mayor Walter Gray. “At the end of the day the chemistry just worked.”
“Three years have passed in the blink of an eye,” said Coun. Gail Given, who is seeking re-election along with Maxine DeHart, Luke Stack and Mohini Singh. “Our first year was like drinking from a fire hose as far as downloading information goes. While we’ve not always agreed, contrary to what some may say, the dialogue has always been respectful and you might even say fruitful in unity.”
Maxine DeHart called Gerry Zimmerman, who sat next to her for the past three years, her ‘council husband’.
“I’m really emotional right now I hope I can get through this,” she said. “It’s been a really sad day.”
Coun. Luke Stack called Zimmerman a “true Canadian hero” and thanked Andre Blanleil for 21 years of service. He also gave Robert Hobson, who along with Zimmerman and Mayor Gray will not be returning, full credit for the years of work he did on local parks.
“Every time I visit one of our 31 regional parks I will pray a blessing on you,” he said. “That’s certainly your legacy.”
Zimmerman, who was Kelowna’s fire chief for many years, said while he won’t miss everything about council, he enjoyed his time and learned more than he expected.
“I came into this position thinking heck, I’ve been with the city a long time… I knew everything. Well I knew about five per cent of what I needed to know. And I’ve learned a lot of things that are going to serve me well as I move on to the next chapter of my life,” he said.
Singh said she had a retirement present for Mayor Gray. “I’m going to get you a book of new jokes,” she said.
Robert Hobson, who announced he would be retiring after 26 years serving the Okanagan, had some advice for future councils.
“You may in time grow weary of your fellow councillors,feeling that they’re disagreeable, that they’re close-minded or that they’ve taken credit for your ideas," he said. "Remember that… council thrives on diverse views. Love them all anyway. You are here to represent the whole city… especially those who didn’t vote for you. Love them all anyway."
Retiring mayor Walter Gray received perhaps the most praise. Stack credited him with bringing together the team, even at times of disagreement and also for lightening the mood when things got heavy.
“You have the gift of being able to focus on key priorities and leading the team to creative problem solving,” Stack said.
“You always made council fun,” Blanleil said.
“I haven’t used the word proud so much as I have in the last three years,” said Coun. Colin Basran, who is also running for mayor.
"More than anything I take away the friendships I have with all of you. I have learned so much from all of you and regardless of what happens Saturday we are lifelong friends.”
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014