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New councillor sworn-in at TBM council, mayor returns from medical leave

The TBM town council is now back to full capacity
2020_02_26 TBM councillor Paula Hope_JG
The Town of the Blue Mountains town council has officially sworn in Paula Hope as a member of council. Jennifer Golletz/CollingwoodToday

The Town of the Blue Mountains (TBM) council is now back to full capacity after a bumpy start to the term. 

On Jan. 6, deputy mayor Odette Bartnicki resigned from her position. Shortly thereafter, Mayor Alar Soever suffered a heart attack. Councillor Rob Potter was appointed to the position of deputy mayor on Jan. 20, which left a vacant councillor's chair.

TBM council was made whole once again yesterday at the March 30 virtual council meeting, where Mayor Soever returned to his role and Paula Hope was officially been sworn in as a member of council. 

“I want to thank the electors without whom I would not be here,” said Hope. “And, I want to thank every member of the Town of the Blue Mountains for creating such a vibrant, caring and passionate community.”

Hope was offered the councillor seat after the TBM council voted in favour of resorting to the 2018 election outcomes to determine the proper candidate.

In the 2018 election, Hope earned 2,048 votes, just 15 votes behind sitting councillor Andrea Matrosovs.

“To our mayor, you have been such an important part of building trust with this new council. Thank you for your heartfelt leadership. And to the rest of council, I want to thank you for the stellar job you have been doing leading our town,” Hope said.

Hope will hold the councillor seat for the remainder of the 2018-2022 term.

“On behalf of the council, I would like to welcome Paula to the team,” said Soever. “We are looking forward to having a full complement of councillors, and I am confident that Paula will be a great addition.”

The March 30 council meeting also marked the return of Soever to the council table. The mayor had been absent from his council seat since early January due to his heart attack.

“Everything was running well while I was away,” Soever said. “We have great staff and Deputy Mayor Rob Potter did an excellent job.”

He added coming back into the role of mayor during a global pandemic may not be ideal but he says it hasn’t been too overwhelming yet.

“Coming back in the middle of the pandemic, it is almost like part-time work right now, due to the fact that so much has been cancelled,” he says. “Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of important things to do related to the pandemic, but there are also a lot of regular meetings and travel that have been cancelled.”

The TBM declared a state of emergency last week, one day after the mayor’s return to office.

“What a state of emergency does is it drives home these important messages to the public,” he said. “Most people around here are taking things very seriously and are maintaining social distances.”

Soever says declaring the state of emergency allows expenditures to be approved by the mayor and CAO, as opposed to the regular requirement of presenting and receiving council’s approval.

The declaration also allows the town to be able to apply for provincial funding if their expenditures reach a certain amount.

“It gives you a few tools in your toolbox,” Soever explains. “It is like if you have an upcoming job, you may as well get your toolbox out. You don’t want to wait until you need something and have to go look for it.”

Soever says TBM staff and council will continue to meet with the emergency control group and assess the local COVID-19 and state of emergency situation on a daily basis.

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Jennifer Golletz

About the Author: Jennifer Golletz

Jennifer Golletz covers civic matters under the Local Journalism Initative, which is funded by the Government of Canada
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