Hearts were heavy at the inaugural meeting of the City of Armstrong’s new council.
Absent from Tuesday’s swearing-in ceremony was acclaimed Mayor Chris Pieper who, along with his family and friends, is dealing with the sudden death last Friday of his wife of 47 years, Anita.
Incumbent councillors Gary Froats, Shirley Fowler, Paul Britton, Steven Drapala and Linda Fisher, and newcomer Jim Wright were sworn into their positions at city hall. Wright topped the polls in the Oct. 20 municipal election while Fisher edged out incumbent Lance McGregor by two votes for the final seat.
Pieper will officially be sworn in at a later date.
“It is an honour for me to be addressing you tonight as your acting mayor. I just wish it was under better circumstances,” said Froats. “Our hearts and prayers go out to the Pieper family, in their time of need.
“Thank you to Right Rev. Cowan for providing the Invocation tonight. May your guiding words help us, as we make decisions for our community. We will endeavour to use our best skills and judgment keeping ourselves impartial and neutral while making the best decisions for Armstrong as a whole. Thank you for also including a special prayer for the Pieper family.”
A Celebration of Life ceremony for Anita Pieper will be held Friday at 1:30 p.m. at the ABC (Armstrong Bible Chapel) Church.
Froats took a moment during his address to recognize the years of service the current council has given to the community.
Mayor Pieper was recently recognized by the Union of BC Municipalities for 25 years of service as an elected official – all for the City of Armstrong. Britton has served 16 years, Fowler has given 13 years, Fisher and Drapala are into their second four-year terms, and Froats has two years under his belt, having been elected in a 2016 by-election to replace 17-year councillor Ron (Sully) O’Sullivan, who died in office.
Wright served two years on Summerland council in the late 1970s.
“I would like to give a special welcome to our newest councillor Jim Wright. Great to have you at the table with us. That means officially I am no longer the rookie,” joked Froats. “I would like to publicly thank our departing councillor Lance McGregor for his work and dedication to the community over the last four years. I know I will miss his witty comments.”
The challenges ahead of the new council, said Froats, are not new for the community.
“Council will continue to meet ever-changing environmental standards, and we will continue to take a leadership role in reducing the environmental footprint we leave for future generations,” he said.
Froats also praised the community services in the city.
“We are blessed in our community to have an outstanding volunteer spirit in our residents,” he said. “I believe it is our responsibility to assist people to come together for social, education, recreation and cultural purposes.”
The new council will meet officially for the first time on Tuesday, Nov. 13.