When the new Sooke council is sworn in next month, it will look like the old council.
Six council members, including Mayor Maja Tait, were re-elected in the recent municipal election, while former councillor Kevin Pearson rejoins council after a four-year absence.
Council’s inaugural meeting occurs on Nov. 7 at 7 p.m. at the Sooke Municipal Hall.
Tait, along with councillors Dana Lajeunesse, Jeff Bateman, Megan McMath, Al Beddows, Kevin Pearson and Tony St-Pierre, will take the oath of office from provincial court Judge Ted Gouge.
The mayor will give an inaugural address. The only other business typically conducted in council’s first meeting is the appointment of council members to the Capital Regional District, Vancouver Island Regional Library and CREST Emergency Communications boards.
Tait said councillors are experienced with the issues since the majority of council was re-elected.
The mayor wants to continue the advocacy work that the previous council focussed on, including funding for the long-awaited Little River Crossing that links the Sunriver Estates neighbourhood to the town centre with a series of trails. The only piece missing is provincial funding for the bridge project.
Other high-priority projects on Tait’s agenda are health-care expansion, improvements to local schools and the official community plan.
Tait would also like to explore ideas from other candidates who ran but lost in the election and hopes to restructure committee-of-the-whole meetings where council will sit in the afternoon instead of in the evening.
She said that because most of the council was re-elected, there’s no reason to push the reset button.
“We can quickly look at what went well (in the last term), what needs to improve, what we didn’t like, what we can shift, and how we can address it. It’s great timing to do all of that,” Tait said.
Tait doesn’t expect it will take Pearson long to get up to speed with the rest of council.
“Kevin is no stranger to any of us. We all know him well. It’s just sharing what’s new, what’s different, what’s changed, and getting his insight and input,” she said.
Pearson went right to work after the election, attending a regional orientation meeting for councillors sponsored by Esquimalt and the Capital Regional District. He’s also dug into the proposed official community plan and met with the mayor.
“I was off for four years, so I’m trying to catch up, but I still find I have the motivation and the excitement to get going,” he said.