Former Woodstock mayor helps present UMNB award named in his honour

by | Dec 14, 2023

Quispamsis Mayor Libby O’Hara first recipient of Arthur Slipp Municipal Leader of the Year Award

Quispamsis Mayor Libby O’Hara became the recipient of the Union of Municipalities of New Brunswick’s inaugural leadership award named in honour of a man colleagues said exhibited two decades of leadership at UMNB and his hometown of Woodstock. 

Former Woodstock Mayor Art Slipp and his wife Lynn attended the Nov. 25 UMNB AGM banquet to help present the Arthur Slipp Municipal Leader of the Year Award to O’Hara. 

UMNB Executive Director Dan Murphy said Slipp, who served on the board for 20 years, including two as president and three as past president, deserved to see the award carry his name. O’Hara earned to be its first recipient. 

Murphy said naming the award after Slipp was an easy decision. 

“The board wanted to recognize the outstanding contributions of Arthur,” he said. “He’s one of the long-term pillars of our organization and a pillar for the town of Woodstock.” 

Slipp joined Murphy and UMNB president Andrew Blaic to present the award, which recognizes “unwavering integrity and steadfast commitment to creating lasting change” to O’Hara. 

In presenting the award, UMNB described the Quispamsis mayor’s achievements in earning the honour. 

“Mayor O’Hara’s exceptional leadership, marked by her adept guidance through challenging times and dedication to fostering transparent governance, stands as a testament to her unwavering dedication to her community,” UMNB explained in a media release. “Her remarkable ability to foster collaboration, promote work-life balance, and uphold a culture of transparency has earned her widespread admiration and respect among her peers.”

In accepting the award, O’Hara noted her years of working with Slipp at UMNB and learning from the example he set. 

Slipp described O’Hara as a worthy recipient, noting how she steered her community through challenging times this year. 

“It was great to honour Libby,” he said. 

Slipp acknowledged his surprise when informed the new award would carry his name. 

“I was very honoured and surprised when they told me,” he said. “I was particularly pleased to be invited to participate in the ceremony.” 

During his over 20 years on the UMNB board, Slipp said he worked with every premier since Bernard Lord and multiple municipal leaders dealing with high-profile issues such as establishing the gas tax fund and municipal reform. 

Slipp said UMNB’s next significant challenge is to work with the province to restructure municipal and regional funding. 

Murphy said Slipp offered sage advice and provided experience and wisdom as UMNB and municipal governments took on challenging issues.

“We still call on Art for advice,” he said. 

As Slipp does on multiple occasions, he praised his wife Lynn for support over the years.

“We were a team,” he said. 

Lynn said she always enjoyed attending events like the AGM banquets and appreciated being invited this year. 

“We really enjoyed seeing all the people again,” she said. 

Lynn described it as “very emotional” seeing Art recognized “for his whole body of work for all those years.” 

She said from his days as a teacher, Art always embraced leadership. 

“Art was a born leader,” she said. 

UMNB also presented two other awards at the Nov. 25 event, including the prestigious Louise Breau Memorial Award named in honour of the late Millville mayor. 

The UMNB release described Breau as “a reliable, sincere and dynamic person who wanted to be involved and would help out in any way she could.” 

UMNB presented the 2023 award to Grand Falls Mayor Marcel Deschênes, who has been an integral part of UMNB’s journey from its inception. 

“With over 25 years of tireless service to his community and an impactful legacy, Marcel has been a pillar for UMNB throughout the years,” UMNB said. “His steadfast dedication to community development, spanning decades, showcases an unparalleled devotion to his beloved Grand Falls.”

The evening’s first award, the Raymond Murphy Memorial Award, commemorates the legacy of UMNB’s esteemed past president and executive director from Rexton. 

Established in 2017, the award honours a member municipality volunteer, elected or non-elected, who has exhibited outstanding devotion to serving their community. 

The 2023 winner was Deputy Mayor Kate Akagi of St. Andrews for her “remarkable commitment to social, cultural, and economic enhancement within New Brunswick.” 

The release said Akagi’s multifaceted contributions as an educator, devoted volunteer, Indigenous liaison, and civic supporter left an essential mark on her community. Aragi was recently inducted into the Order of New Brunswick.

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