Term ends in tears as councillors say goodbye to colleagues

The following article appeared in the November 23 edition of the Guelph Mercury:

A city council term which began with sadness over the passing of a councillor ended in tears Monday night, as the non-returning representatives said goodbye to their colleagues.

It was the last meeting of the outgoing council. A new slate, including four newcomers, will be sworn in Dec. 6.

The council meeting, which was predictably light on business, ended in just 20 minutes.

Mayor Karen Farbridge paid tribute to long-serving councillors, presenting Gloria Kovach with a 20-year pin and councillors Christine Billings and Maggie Laidlaw with 10-year pins.

City clerk Lois Giles then presented Farbridge, who has sat on council for 13 years, with a 10-year pin of her own.

Farbridge thanked the four non-returning councillors — Vicki Beard, Christine Billings, Kathleen Farrelly and Mike Salisbury — for their time around the horseshoe, presenting each with a framed sketch of Carden Street depicting the former and current city hall buildings.

Farbridge noted this term of council opened in the old building and closes in the new one “which comes up every 100 or 150 years.”

The mayor noted the term got off to a “sombre beginning,” with the death of Coun. Laura Baily in March 2007, just four months after the election.

A plaque has been prepared, with input from Baily’s family, commemorating her life and municipal career. It will be installed on a trail named in her honour, Farbridge said.

The mayor said she will remember Beard’s dedication to Pollination Guelph, a group working to transform a portion of the old Eastview Landfill Site into a pollinator garden. Farbridge said she will remember Billings’ “diligent work” for her constituents, Farrelly’s compassion for those affected by council decisions and Salisbury’s concern for marginalized residents.

Beard said after the meeting she will continue to work with the pollinator project, and Salisbury said he will continue serving as chair of a committee looking to relocate a skate park in the city.

Farbridge also tipped her hat to city management and staff and residents who work behind the scenes on various committees and projects.