French Creek director Joe Stanhope was acclaimed as chair of the Regional District of Nanaimo board Tuesday night at the inaugural meeting. Stanhope has been chair of the board since 2002.

Stanhope emotional about taking the chair of the Regional District of Nanaimo board

Qualicum Beach mayor says his first motion will ask directors to change the name of the regional district to Benson-Arrowsmith

Joe Stanhope reclaimed his position as chair of the Regional District of Nanaimo board Tuesday night — 2015 will be his 13th consecutive year at the head of this board table.

As no other names came forward, Stanhope, who represents French Creek, took the chair by acclamation after being nominated by Nanaimo Mayor Bill McKay.

“It’s overwhelming,” Stanhope told The NEWS, holding back tears. “It suddenly just clicked — there’s a lot of people who support me here.”

Stanhope said he was expecting to see some opposition, but was pleasantly surprised that nobody stepped up to vie for the position. “You just never know,” he said. “There’s always people interested (in the chair position).”

Stanhope said top of mind will be bringing new directors up to speed with regional district processes and balancing the budget.

Meanwhile, recently-elected Lantzville Mayor Colin Haime ran unopposed for the deputy chair position. Haime said he’s looking forward to working together on a regional basis with neighbouring municipalities and electoral areas. Haime was previously Lantzville’s mayor from 2003 to 2011, and he sat as his community’s RDN director during that time.

“What happens in one area affects the entire region,” said Haime. “I’m looking forward to working with Joe in a position other than as a director … He’s someone I respect, who has a wealth of history and knowledge about local government.”

Alongside Haime, new additions to the board include Qualicum Beach mayor Teunis Westbroek, Nanaimo mayor Bill McKay, Nanoose Bay director Bob Rogers and Nanaimo councillors: William Yoachim, Wendy Pratt, Ian Thorpe and Jerry Hong.

Westbroek, returning to the board after a three-year hiatus, was already toting new motions at the RDN’s first meeting of the year.

“My first notice of motion is going to be to change the name from the Regional District of Nanaimo to the Regional District of Benson-Arrowsmith to better reflect the area,” said Westbroek. “That way people won’t think we’re all part of Nanaimo.”

Representatives from Qualicum First Nation, Snaw-Naw-As (Nanoose First Nation) and Snuneymuxw attended the meeting pledging their support to the board, and vowing to work in partnership with the new politicians.

Judge Justine Saunders swore in the new board.

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