It’s now official.
Burns Lake’s new mayor, 21 year old Luke Strimbold was officially sworn in to office during an inaugural council meeting last week.
Strimbold, as well as councillors elected by acclamation; Frank Varga, Susan Schienbein, John Illes and Quentin Beach were greeted by plenty of well wishers seated in council chambers.
Both Burns Lake Band Chief Albert Gerow and Lake Babine Nation Chief Wilf Adam also participated in the ceremony by giving opening and closing prayers.
Outgoing mayor Bernice Magee gave a teary farewell to the seat of mayor that she had held for three consecutive terms.
After the ceremony, which was conducted by St.. Sgt. Grant MacDonald from the Burns Lake RCMP detachment, mayor Strimbold, draped in the chains of office gave his first official speech as mayor of Burns Lake.
He said that being the youngest mayor in the province won’t hinder his ability to get the job done.
“I have some big shoes to fill,” he said to Magee, thanking her for her contributions to Burns Lake over the years.
He also thanked election candidates for the seat of mayor, Eileen Benedict and Jim Minger and further extended his thanks to Benedict for her work in the community during her time on council, the Regional District of Bulkley Nechako board of directors and in various community groups.
Neither Benedict or Minger attended the meeting.
Mayor Strimbold has a long ‘to do’ list including increasing the transparency of council and the Village of Burns Lake and increasing accountability to local tax payers.
He said his passion lies in creating an open dialogue with the community and that the door to the village and to his new office is always open.
“If I am out of the office I will get in touch as soon as I can,” he added.
He said he looks forward to unified decision making at the council table and plans to personally invite community members and local groups to attend council meetings.
In an effort of increase accountability to taxpayers he said he will also be conducting a review of efficiencies at the village.
“We must remember we are here to service the needs of the tax payer,” he said.
Mayor Strimbold said he wants to engage more young people in municipal politics and increase partnerships with First Nations.
Also on the ‘to do’ list, is more communication and an increased relationship with the Burns Lake RCMP detachment. “We want Burns Lake to be a safe place for families and we need to work towards collective solutions.”
Mayor Strimbold later said to Lakes District News that he thought the inaugural meeting was successful.
“There was a great turn out and I am pleased that a lot of family, friends and community members turned up. It is nice to have their support.”
When asked if out going mayor Magee gave him any advice he said, “She told me to be willing to work with council and to work hard and keep motivated.”
Juggling his management job at his family’s logging company with the role of mayor won’t be a problem. “I have the flexibility to put in as much time as I need at the village,” he added.
As for Magee, she said that she and her husband George are preparing to escape winter by jetting off to summer in New Zealand, in the coming weeks.