Spencer Coyne asked Princeton to vote for change.
And it did so – overwhelmingly.
Coyne, a former town councillor and manager of The Source, was elected mayor Saturday with 68.3 per cent of the vote – 895 votes compared to incumbent Frank Armitage with 336. Leona Guerster had 79 votes.
Turnout at the polls was extraordinary with 1,310 people, or 58 per cent of estimated eligible voters, casting a ballot.
“It’s not going to be business as usual at town hall,” said Coyne in an interview with The Spotlight. “I think a little differently, and I believe I’ve been given a mandate to bring change to Princeton. The biggest change I talked about was the change in attitude and the change with the way we do things and I plan on fulfilling that commitment.”
When asked about his plans for the first weeks of the coming term, Coyne said the proposed indoor aquatic centre will take front and centre.
“If this was a referendum on the pool I think I have a clear mandate to explore other options.”
Coyne said he wants to examine the agreement between the James Patterson Group and the municipality. That was the one signed when the corporation gifted the downtown lots earmarked for the facility to Princeton. It has been reported to include a permitted-use clause. And he wants to dig further into the feasibility study supporting the project.
He expressed concern that the current plan encompasses other property that is presently owned by Fortis B.C.
“I personally do not buy into the current pool proposal. I don’t buy into the financials and I need to be sure that what is being written is truth,” he said, when asked if he will follow through with the submission of a grant application for nearly $20 million in order to build the $27 million facility.
The grant window closes January 23, 2019.
“I will make my final decision based on the actual facts and not a pitch to the community that is the ultimate dream,” said Coyne. “I’m concerned that pitch was inaccurate and if that [is true] the application we are sending to the province, I believe, it’s been done wrong.”
Coyne acknowledged his bid for the mayor’s chair was strongly supported by the ATV community, as he promised to find a solution that would allow walkers and cyclists to share the trail with motorized vehicles.
It is another early-days focus, he said.
“I guess you can say I have already started working on that. I have already reached out to the Princeton ATV group and I’ve asked some questions. I’ve asked if they are willing to put some money forward and they’ve indicated that there is the possibility of some funding from their side. I’ve done some research where we can possibly get some no-posts or dividers and I hope that…no later than January that we can start sitting down in committee and start working.”
A trail committee will be struck that includes all users, he said.
“There are going to be some places we are going to need to compromise to make this happen. I don’t want this to be an issue a year from now, and I don’t want this to be an issue four years from now, and I don’t want this to be an issue ten years from now. I want to get this solved and the only way we are going to solve this is if we work together.”
One of Coyne’s first official tasks will assigning portfolios to four new council members.
He has already spoken with each member of the team.
“I’m excited. I personally know every one of them. Most of us have history one way or another, and I am optimistic and I’m excited about the future,” he said.
“I’m already formulating plans…You put the right people in the right jobs and it sets the direction.”
The mayor-elect indicated he will reach out to volunteer groups, and he wants to oversee those discussions.
“For the first while we are going to have to create relationships, so that’s going to be a big part of my job. I was asked online what the priority committees would be that the mayor would sit on. Right now I can honestly say that every committee and every portfolio is a priority for me.”
Coyne said he also needs to get acquainted with senior town managers.
“I look forward to getting to know each and every one of them,” he said.
“I don’t know my management team and they don’t know me, so we will have to go from there.”
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