Inaugural meeting of Penticton city council not without controversy - InfoNews

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Inaugural meeting of Penticton city council not without controversy

Newly elected Penticton Mayor John Vassilaki completes his oath of office while Judge Gregory Koturbash looks on. Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018.
November 07, 2018 - 10:25 AM

PENTICTON - Penticton’s new city council was sworn in last night in a ceremony at the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre and it was not without controversy.

The largely ceremonial event took place in front of an enthusiastic crowd of around 150 people, but when it came to the new council’s second order of business, the appointments to the regional district, a re-elected councillor had a concern.

Coun. Judy Sentes took umbrage with the mayor’s decision to base the appointments to the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen board of directors on the councillor’s popularity with the voters.

Sentes, who previously served on the regional board would be relegated to alternate status by the mayor’s decision, raised an alternative motion recommending the appointments be based on councillor experience, including previous appointments to the regional board.

Her arguments found no support amongst the other councillors, however, and the mayor's recommendation to appoint himself, Coun. Jake Kimberley, Coun. Frank Regehr and Coun. Julius Bloomfield to the regional board passed with only Sentes dissenting.

The evening also included some introductory remarks by Penticton Indian Band Chief Chad Eneas, who expressed congratulations to candidates, saying he was looking forward to working with the new council. The Chief also said the First Nations are a “separate and distinct people with special rights in Canada,” noting the Penticton Indian Band has thrived in the Okanagan for 10,000 years.

Justice Gregory Koturbash was on hand for the swearing in ceremony and told council, “Let me make it clear, this is a four-year sentence with no parole.”

In his opening address, Mayor John Vassilaki thanked voters for their “overwhelming vote of confidence,” promising new city committees to deal with topics like seniors' issues and arts and culture. The mayor also talked about organizing a committee to evaluate past and best business practices and a thorough review of the capital budget in order to “get ahead of developers.”

He expressed a commitment to “working creatively" with the Penticton Indian Band in an effort to strengthen and build that regional relationship.

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