New mayor elected in Port Clements

“I hope to make a change in the community, to get the economy going and to try to make it more stable,” says Urs Thomas.

Port Clements residents chose Urs Thomas for mayor on Saturday.

Elected as a councillor in 2005 and 2011, Thomas says he already knows many of the issues.

“I hope to make a change in the community, to get the economy going and to try to make it more stable,” he said, noting that the village lost nearly 100 people between 2011 and the 2016 census.

Joining Thomas on the village council are two new councillors, Brigid Cumming and Elizabeth Stewart, who were both acclaimed in Saturday’s mid-term by-election, and continuing councillors Doug Daugert and Charleen O’Brien-Anderson.

“I think we’ve got a good group,” said Stewart.

“To me it’s a way of giving back to the community,” said Cumming who, like Stewart, has seen family members serve on council before.

In the 1980s, Cumming watched her mother Wendy Quinn pore through long reports about costly water-system upgrades something she and other councillors will be doing shortly, as they consider an engineering report on ways to improve village water quality.

“The taste and look of it, in certain locations, is just not acceptable in my opinion,” said Thomas, who listed improved water as a priority issue. In some areas, high manganese discolours the water enough that it’s hard to keep sheets white.

Other priorities include repairs to Rainbow Wharf, and plans for a Haida Gwaii Community Forest an 80,000 m3 tenure shared by islands municipalities that may be managed, according to a new provincial model, by BC Timber Sales.

“Let’s see what’s going to happen,” said Thomas. “It’s going to be interesting.”

Besides serving on council, Thomas will continue as the North Coast chair on the Sport Fishing Advisory Board, which advises DFO on issues such as catch limits for yelloweye rockfish, a species of special concern. He is also owner of the Golden Spruce Motel.

According to preliminary results released last weekend, Thomas was elected mayor with 68 votes, just 10 more than Chris Bellamy.

“I would like to thank Chris Bellamy, that he was encouraged to run as well,” said Thomas, adding that it’s better for the village to elect a mayor than have a single name put forward.

“I think you have to appreciate everybody who runs for a councillor or a mayor position, or any position in politics it’s a lot of work,” he said.

“I hope to do something good for this town. Usually, you can’t please everybody. But I hope we can work together.”