What a shock and utter tragedy to have recently lost Merritt councillor Claire Newman in such a devastating fashion. Like many of you, I was left reeling by the news that she died in an apparent hit-and-run near Valemount, enroute to visit family. It’s my sincerest hope someone will come forward to take responsibility, and anyone with information is asked to contact the RCMP in Valemount.

It’s incredibly heartbreaking to lose a community leader who, as Merritt Mayor Michael Goetz stated, was such a bright light. I got to know Claire when she served as a councillor in Logan Lake, where she made a number of positive contributions to the community over 14 years. She brought the same enthusiasm and positivity to her council work in Merritt. Whether it was a face-to-face meeting to discuss challenges and devise solutions, or something as simple as a social media post, Claire always offered thoughtful advice and encouragement — exuding optimism and a desire to work together to achieve great things for our communities.

I want to extend my deepest condolences to Claire’s family, friends, colleagues on council, and everyone who was touched by her positive spirit. I thank those who came to council chambers at Merritt City Hall this past week to share a story or memory of Claire, and to leave kind words of remembrance for her loved ones. 

My thoughts are also with her former colleagues in Logan Lake, who recently shared one of Claire’s quotes — “when you can’t find the sunshine, try being the sunshine.” It’s something we can all strive to do, to carry forward Claire’s legacy and bring a bit of hope and optimism to those around us. She will truly be missed.