By Councillor Wayne Rothe
History was made during the inaugural meeting of the new Spruce Grove city council Oct. 23.
Three women took office. That’s the most women ever elected in Spruce Grove.
One of the first orders of business was changing our title of alderman to councillor. The motion passed unanimously to change a title that’s existed since Spruce Grove attained city status March 1, 1986.
The title of alderman was founded in English law. I couldn’t find other cities in Canada that still use the term alderman but read that Calgary city council twice voted on a change of title before finally accepting the change in December 2010. At the end of the debate Calgary singing group The Raging Grannies sang for council a version of Oh My Darling, Clementine, with lyrics changed to reflect the change.
One of the objections we’ve heard is the cost of the change. However, by timing this decision at the beginning of a new council term, the cost will be mostly irrelevant. New materials must be produced anyway and items such as business cards, name badges and name plates for our desks in council chambers will carry the new title.
I also heard an objection to the time spent making this decision. However, it took all of two minutes, 35 seconds in the meeting for the motion, a brief discussion and the vote. Yes, I timed it.
Some residents suggested on social media that city council has bigger decisions to make, and I agree. With this one out of the way we can now move on to our other work – including the budget, which is our biggest decision of the year as it guides all else that we do.
Spruce Grove elected four new councillors, defeating two incumbents in the process. If those aren’t historic, they’re certainly rare events.
Not historic but noteworthy nonetheless, council and committee of the whole start times were moved from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. It was felt that a later start time would make it easier for the public to attend. Also, the last council had three retired members, but with six of seven current council members working in other jobs it would be difficult for some to make a 5 p.m. meeting.
There’s my segue into the last history-making thing about Monday’s inaugural council meeting. It marks the point at which the mayor’s position becomes full time. That’s a decision that the previous council made to reflect the needs and expectations of a growing community.