Regional council gathered in council chambers at Regional Headquarters on Wednesday night for its 18th inaugural meeting.
The meeting included a Thanksgiving Address from Dr. Darren Thomas, the associate vice-president of Indigenous Initiatives at Wilfrid Laurier University, and the national anthem was sung by the Suddaby Public School Junior Choir.
Councillors made their declaration of office, and councillor Karen Redman gave her inaugural address.
"Today we welcome the future council leadership at a very interesting juncture in the region's history," she said.
Redman noted a number of challenges the region is facing including inflation, supply chain issues, the needs of the homeless population, and the opioid crisis. Perhaps the greatest challenge for council, is overseeing the building of affordable housing quickly for a growing population.
"While the landscape has changed, our commitment to housing for all remains a critical responsibility," said Redman. "How can we work better to support our most vulnerable residents, to animate community providers, and to attract provincial and federal funds?"
She also mentioned the difficulties of a polarized community, and growing mistrust in leadership, but vowed that council will still work to improve the lives of residents.
"Now is not the time to take the foot of the gas, Redman said. "As we tend to present issues and the unknown challenges of the future, I would ask council to remain thoughtful and good humoured."
There are nine new councillors on regional council, including Colleen James, the first Black woman elected to regional council, and Chantal Huinink the first woman living with a physical disability elected to regional council.
"What we see when we survey the regional council team of 2022-2026, is a council who more accurately reflects the community that we represent," said Redman.