Yesterday the City of Kitchener the inaugural meeting of Kitchener’s new city council was held inside council chambers at city hall.
The mayor and seven incumbent councillors won re-election in October and are joined by three new councillors: Christine Michaud representing Ward Four, Margaret Johnston representing Ward Eight and Debbie Chapman representing Ward Nine. This new council marks a historic moment for the City of Kitchener – for the first time, municipal council has equal gender representation with five women and five men.
Kitchener’s new city council includes:
Mayor - Berry Vrbanovic (incumbent)
Ward One - Councillor Scott Davey (incumbent)
Ward Two - Councillor Dave Schnider (incumbent)
Ward Three - Councillor John Gazzola (incumbent)
Ward Four - Councillor Christine Michaud (newly elected)
Ward Five - Councillor Kelly Galloway-Sealock (incumbent)
Ward Six - Councillor Paul Singh (incumbent)
Ward Seven - Councillor Bil Ioannidis (incumbent)
Ward Eight - Councillor Margaret Johnston (newly elected)
Ward Nine - Councillor Debbie Chapman (newly elected)
Ward Ten - Councillor Sarah Marsh (incumbent)
Mayor Berry Vrbanovic delivered an inaugural address, setting the tone for the term. In his speech, he spoke of his vision for a better, more caring Kitchener for everyone and his desire for a collaborative council founded on mutual respect and trust.
“When we come together, as a government, as a people, and as a community, our vision for a more caring Kitchener comes into focus,” said Mayor Vrbanovic. “As I look at my new council colleagues, I am confident that together, we will build on the success of our outgoing council, championing a vision for a Kitchener that is defined by its strong neighbourhoods, safe communities, growing economy, and inclusive culture.”
As he addressed council chambers, Mayor Vrbanovic highlighted areas of focus for the coming term, some of which included developing a new strategic plan for the next four years, continued support for the city’s Neighbourhood Strategy, Love My Hood, and improvements to traffic safety.
“As a new council, we are united by the same goal and shared purpose – a caring Kitchener,” remarked Mayor Vrbanovic. “We will not lose sight of this mandate and it will motivate all the work we do, because we know it matters. It matters to each and every citizen that our city feels like home and provides opportunity.”
The evening’s ceremonies also featured a performance by The KW Symphony Youth Orchestra. Representatives of the city’s European, Chinese and African communities performed the National Anthem to reflect and celebrate the city’s strength in diversity.
Invocations were provided by Meena Waseem, a student from Cameron Heights Collegiate Institute and by Father Dan Lobsinger, CR – associate pastor at St. Mary’s Parish in Kitchener.
A land acknowledgment by Mayor Vrbanovic and an Indigenous Opening led by Jean Becker from the Wilfrid Laurier University Indigenous Initiatives service opened the evening’s ceremonies.
During the inaugural session, the mayor and councillors were officially appointed to the city’s standing committees. These standing committees discuss and debate critical issues affecting Kitchener, and report their decisions to council for final resolution.
Earlier in the day, the mayor attended the Nutrition for Learning breakfast program at the Franklin School in St. Luke’s Church. He went on to serve lunch at St. John’s Kitchen, where he was joined by city councillors Sarah Marsh, Dave Schnider and Margaret Johnston.
Mayor Vrbanovic’s full inaugural address as well as a complete list of standing committee appointments can be found in the attachments included below.