Outgoing Port McNeill Mayor Gerry Furney

RDMW Board bids farewell to Furney

Big send-off and sombre reflection as the 2011-14 RDMW Board of Directors met for the last time Tuesday, Nov. 18.

PORT McNEILL—One mayor was given a rousing send-off, while another was recognized with a moment of silence last week at the final meeting of the 2011-14 Regional District of Mount Waddington Board of Directors.

Port McNeill Mayor Gerry Furney, who will relinquish his post to recently elected Shirley Ackland next week, was presented by board chair Dave Rushton with a framed copy of the minutes of the inaugural RDMW board meeting, held June 22, 1966.

“Gerry, you probably remember them,” Rushton joked.

The recording secretary who compiled those minutes? Gerry Furney, who has spent 39 of the last 41 years as Port McNeill’s mayor and 46 of the last 48 in elected office on the North Island.

“Unaccustomed as I am to public speaking,” Furney said to general laughter, “I’m just going to pass this around.”

Ackland, who will assume Furney’s spot on the RDMW board and who attended last week’s meeting in the gallery, confided Furney had occasionally “spoken” at the annual Union of BC Municipalities conference.

“He’s stood up and said, ‘I’ve been asked to give a short address. PO Box 1, Port McNeill,’ and then sat down,” Ackland said. “I’ve seen him do that three times.”

The meeting took a more somber note when Rushton asked the Board and visitors to observe a moment of silence for the late Debbie Huddlestan. The Port Hardy councillor and occasional RDMW board representative was serving as acting mayor when she died suddenly two days earlier, just hours after attending an election-night party that was to have ushered in her retirement from elected service. She was preceded by her husband, Al Huddlestan, who was chair of the RDMW board when he succumbed to cancer in March of 2013.

Both Furney and Alert Bay board representative Doug Aberley were congratulated and thanked for their years of service on the Regional District Board. Aberley, who will be succeeded by newly elected councillor Dennis Buchanan, chose not to run for a third term on Alert Bay’s council in the recent election.

“I spent 40 years as a community planner, economic development officer and municipal administrator, so to go into the political side of things was an adventure,” Aberley said. “I thought it’d be a very calm and quiet experience in a little town like Alert Bay, but little did I know.”

He spoke of some of the accomplishments of the RDMW Board during his six years, including the establishment of the Mount Waddington Transit System, rural waste transfer stations, increased supports for tourism, the hiring of a professional planner and the board’s lobbying efforts.

“It will never be the central governments in Ottawa and Victoria or big businesses that solve our problems. It’s gonna be us, representing the people of this little, wonderful place. I just hope that can continue.”

Bylaws

Directors moved within one vote of establishing a Quatsino Waste Management Service Area while taking the first step to address a contentious Telegraph Cove Road access issue during the meeting.

The board took up three proposed bylaws and gave final approval to Bylaw 875, a procedural bylaw that regulates board meetings.

Bylaw 859, to establish the Quatsino Waste Management Area, was given first, second and third readings. The Bylaw would establish a waste transfer and recycling station, at an estimated capital cost of $100,000 funded largely by regional district gas tax revenues. Annual operations over the coming five years are estimated at $10,000, to be split between local tax assessments and user (tipping) fees at the transfer station.

The bylaw will go to the Ministry of Environment before the RDMW Board’s final approval.

Finally, first reading was given to Bylaw 877, which would establish a 10-year Telegraph Cove Road Maintenance Service to replace a service scheduled to expire in March, 2015.

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