A recent visit from several Oak Bay residents left Mayor Nils Jensen speechless.
“I was so blown away. I was overwhelmed,” said Jensen, who was elected to the mayor’s chair last November.
Jensen has been hosting mayor’s office hours at the municipal hall every Saturday morning for a while now. It’s something new he’s implemented to help keep his finger on the pulse of the commmunity.
One of his appointment’s earlier this month was with Oak Bay resident Lynn Henderson. When she arrived, she had “a crew” with her, he said, so he ushered them into a small meeting room adjacent to council chambers.
“When I went in they just started showering me with little gifts and thank yous,” he said. “They gave me the key to the neighbourhood, home-made cookies and jam, flowers, a big golden scarf. They said they were grateful I’d taken on the job. … One after another they stood up and said something positive and nice.”
“Five families decided to get together and celebrate Nils Jensen and his commitment (to the community),” said Henderson, a long time Oak Bay resident. “We decided to make an appointment and give him little gifts and try to do something to welcome him to his position in the community.”
“It’s something I’ll think about on those days when there’s five-hour public hearings and people are grouchy,” said Jensen.
The visit started out as a bit of light-hearted fun among a group of friends.
“The hard part (of being elected to a new position) is getting to know the community,” said Doug Henderson, Lynn’s husband. “In that process, Nils is having appointments on Saturday morning and as a bit of a joke, we thought a few of us should go down there and complain about cats running free or some obscure issue.
“Then we thought we’d do the opposite. Give him a welcome and thank him for being our leader – it kind of spiralled out of control and we ended up giving him the key to the neighbourhood. We gave him a regal shroud, or he could use it as a cloak of invisibility depending on the issue … it kind of took on a life of its own,” he said.
“It was their idea of paying it forward … it was heart-warming. I was speechless – that’s not something I’m used to,” the former Crown prosecutor said.
“He has a big job ahead and it was nice to do something to brighten his day,” said Doug. “I know what (politicians) get on a regular basis and it’s not always positive and uplifting.”
“I was tingling the rest of the day,” Jensen said of the act of kindness.