By Joel Wittnebel/ The Oshawa Express
Following their appointments on March 20, Doug Sanders and Gail Bates did not have long to wait to officially get into their new roles on Oshawa council.
In a brief ceremony in council chambers March 23, Gail Bates became Oshawa city council’s newest member, while Doug Sanders officially filled the seat as a regional and city councillor.
And while it was a happy day, Mayor John Henry made a point to acknowledge the unfortunate circumstances that led to that day – the sudden passing of former regional and city councillor Nancy Diamond.
“This is not something I thought I’d ever have to do,” Henry said.
“We had an opportunity, all of us, to learn from her (Diamond) and enjoy her company and her wisdom.”
Following the ceremony, newly minted in their roles, both councillors expressed an eager desire to put nose to grindstone.
“I’m excited, I’m anxious to get to work,” Bates said. “I think although there’s only 18 months left in the term, I still think we can accomplish some good things for the city.”
And for Bates, she says she’s going to be keeping a keen eye on the waterfront and the city’s downtown core.
“I’ve always been a very strong environmentalist, and I really, really want us to be careful how we treat the waterfront,” she says. “That’s of very prime importance to me.”
For Sanders, he says he hopes to get over to the region as soon as possible, with the goal of focusing on transit issues.
“I’m quite happy right now,” he said. “I can hardly wait to get to work. I’d like to get to the region and start seeing how the process works.”
Thursday’s swearing in ceremony was a stark change from the meeting three days prior that saw council chambers filled with residents, many of them calling for a byelection, or the appointment of former councillor Tito-Dante Marimpietri, as he had received the next most votes for city and regional councillor in the 2014 election However, following motions from Councillor Nester Pidwerbecki to appoint Sanders and from Councillor Bob Chapman to appoint Bates, those options were pushed aside.
Following that meeting, it was noted that members of the public would be looking to the province for help in reversing the appointments they see as illegal.
“It is absolutely a travesty that any elected body can be replaced through a backroom meeting in the mayor’s office. It is simply irresponsible,” charged former councillor Brian Nicholson following the meeting. “That does not meet in any way shape or form the criteria set in the Municipal Act.”
According to the Municipal Act, it states that appointments must be done in a “transparent and accountable manner.”