The council chambers at the municipal hall was full to overflowing as members of the public, family and friends came to see the fourth council take office on Dec. 5.
The official ceremony was punctuated with clapping and broad smiles as each councillor took their oath of office and Mayor Wendal Milne gave his inaugural address.
Milne thanked the previous council and especially former mayor Janet Evans for her 12 years serving the community.
“It was a huge commitment, I think,” said Milne.
He vowed that there would be changes coming all with the intent of cutting spending in all areas of the district’s budget. He said there were plans already in place for many initiatives but each of those decisions cost money and he wanted to ensure a balanced budget. He said in these uncertain economic times it was important to have sustainability for taxpayers.
“Council and staff need to start doing business in a new way,” said Milne. He wants to control spending and stop tax increases stating that it would be a “tough task.”
Hiring freezes, expenses incurred to attend conferences, capital expenses, existing contracts would all be examined under Milne’s watchful eye.
“Council will take a more hands-on approach,” stated Milne.
New as well will be a number of standing committees made up of local citizens replacing the current Committee of the Whole. He said the committees would meet regularly to ensure all the processes at the local government level were open and transparent.
Possible web casting of council meetings, earlier agendas to council and a review of the zoning bylaw were all mentioned.
“We will continue to make Sooke a great place to live,” said Milne. “We’re all in this together.”