Regional district re-elects chair, selects new vice-chair

On the heels of the American election, Strathcona Regional District directors took part in a poll of their own

On the heels of the American election, Strathcona Regional District directors took part in a poll of their own.

The board of directors held its inaugural meeting Wednesday afternoon and the first order of business was to elect a board chair and vice-chair.

Area C Director Jim Abram nominated Sayward Mayor John MacDonald, who has been serving as chair of the board for the past year.

With no other nominations put forward, MacDonald was elected by acclamation.

MacDonald unseated Abram as chairman last year and at that time said it was his belief that no director should sit as chair for more than two years and that the position should be alternated between electoral area and municipal directors every second year. MacDonald is a municipal director while Abram is an electoral area director.

For the first time in several years, the regional district board will have two municipal directors serving as heads of the board, as Campbell River Director Michele Babchuk was named vice-chair after Abram declined a nomination from Area A Director Gerald Whalley.

“For the past year it’s been an honour to serve under John (MacDonald) and support John as the chair on the board but with my involvements with UBCM and the other committees that I’m on, I would respectfully decline the nomination,” Abram said.

MacDonald then nominated Babchuk, who was elected by acclamation.

MacDonald said he’s looking forward to leading the board into another busy year.

“Thank you to the board for your confidence in myself,” he said. “We have a lot of things to do next year and I’m sure that the entire board will work hard and I know that we get a lot out of our staff and I do really appreciate everything you’ve done for us.”

For the first time, the board held its chair and vice-chair elections in November, rather than December.

Under a change to the Local Government Act, dictated by the province, inaugural meetings must now be held during a regional district’s first meeting scheduled after Nov. 1. Before the change, inaugural meetings were held after Dec. 1.

Tom Yates, the regional district’s corporate services manager, prepared the board for the new rules in June and said the changes are meant to help local governments adapt to the new local government election schedule which, as of 2018, will see elections held in October rather than November.