Susie Gimse, the spirited advocate for Area C residents, became chair of the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District board on Monday.
Gimse, also a councillor with the Village of Pemberton who lives in Birken, was acclaimed to the job after Area A Director and former chair Russ Oakley announced he would not be running for the job and would not seek office again as director in the 2011 municipal election. He had served as chair for four years.
"It's been an honour and a pleasure," he said. "The reason I decline is I think that the next chair should at least be someone who has the intention of running in the next election, and I do not intend to."
Gimse, nominated by Whistler Mayor Ken Melamed, said she was a "redneck" when she first ran to serve on the board 18 years ago but has since changed her thinking around various issues pertaining to the regional district.
"I've changed how I think, I've changed how I act on different things and that's a result of just learning from others and being prepared," she said in her acceptance speech.
"Our reality around us is always changing. I say that because we have some issues coming up, we have issues amongst ourselves. As with every organization, sometimes we need to step back and review how we're doing as an organization and be prepared to make some changes.
"I really feel it's important that all of us, as we move forward, look at the work ahead of us with the view to making adjustments, and maybe perhaps moving away from some of our historical positions."
Oakley was nominated to serve as vice-chair, which he accepted, but the board ultimately voted Squamish Councillor Patricia Heintzman into the position.
"I've been here two years, I feel pretty passionately about the region," Heintzman said in her speech. "There's been things down at the SLRD a certain way for a long time. I certainly believe that the chair and the vice-chair need to work well together. I believe I can do that with Susie."
In their first meeting, Gimse and Heintzman presided as the board discussed a number of issues pertaining to regional governance - a theme that often divides directors along regional lines.
One motion asked the board to accept a proposal from consulting company Urban Systems to conduct Phase 2 of a Governance and Boundaries Project that is examining the risks of changes to governance within the regional district.
Squamish Councillor Paul Lalli asked whether Phase 2 would include a core service review to see whether services provided by the municipalities and the regional district were overlapping.
"I think one of our issues, I know the CAOs have been talking to Paul (Edgington, SLRD administrator), is to ensure that a core services review gets done through phase 2," he said.
Melamed responded that a core service review is not in the work plan for the Governance and Boundaries Project and that such work would require a very specific study done by a consultant team.
The board ultimately approved Phase 2 with Lalli opposed.
Also at the meeting, the board approved a recommendation to submit terms of reference for an Integrated Community Sustainability Plan (ICSP) to the Union of British Columbia Municipalities in order to meet a Feb. 1, 2011 deadline for funding under the General Strategic Priorities Fund, as well as any other potential funding sources.
The endeavour is estimated to cost the regional district anywhere between $50,000 and $95,000, depending on whether it's completed in-house or with outside consultants. It will also have monitoring costs.
The plan is expected to offer the regional district a "comprehensive approach" to sustainability planning and integrate corporate and planning processes in a "more functional and organized manner."