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Belleville city council pays tribute to Pat Culhane

By James Tubb [1]

BELLEVILLE – Belleville city council paid tribute on Monday to their colleague Councillor Pat Culhane. Culhane passed away earlier this month.

Council started with a call for attendance with Mayor Mitch Panciuk noting that everyone from council was in attendance except for one.

“We are all here except for our dearly departed colleague, Patricia Culhane,” he said.

A slideshow was put together with photos of Culhane throughout her two terms as councillor. It was accompanied by a live bagpipe performance that Panciuk said, “Pat would have really enjoyed.”

It was followed by a moment of silence.

One of the photos featured in the slideshow at Belleville city council on Monday. (Photo from screen grab)

Members of Culhane’s family sat in the council chambers as Panciuk began the tribute.

“She felt it was important not just to occupy a seat here at Belleville city council, but also to be a strong voice for those she felt should be heard in our decision making,” Panciuk said.

“She was a voice for the only reason we should be here at city council, for the people.”

Panciuk thanked Culhane’s family on behalf of council.

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Every councillor  shared stories about Culhane, her work on council and in the community.

Councillor Chris Malette reflected on Culhane’s humour and how much she loved telling stories.

“In the council lounge Pat would love to just share stories. She kept inviting me over to the house, Pat just wanted to tell stories,” he said.

“I can’t tell you enough how fun it was to serve with Pat, and her commitment as was said to the little guy. She will be dearly missed in this chamber and in this city.”

Councillor Ryan Williams sat beside her before council spread six feet apart and says he learned a lot from her over that time.

“The big thing I learned from her was to accept your responsibility. Pat really believed we need to accept our responsibility and take ownership of our actions and she was great at that,” he said.

“I’ll always remember Pat for being that voice for how things were and how she believed things should be. How great that was for all of us around council and the city.

Councillor Kelly McCaw, while holding back tears, preferred to sum up Culhane in a quote she had found.

“Be more considered about your character than your reputation. Your character is who you are, your reputation is who people think you are. She was our character,” McCaw said.

McCaw emphasized Culhane’s work with the Humane Society and as a voice for women.

The Quinte Humane society has a new initiative called, The Pat Culhane Legacy Circle in her memory. [3] It will be for honouring people who have left donations for the organization after they passed away.

Councillor Sean Kelly  told stories the two had shared throughout the years and admired how much hard work she had done throughout her life.

“What a life, what a legacy, loved by so many, accomplished so much in 73 years.”

Kelly ended his tribute by paying homage to both his and Culhane’s Irish roots by playing ‘When Irish eyes are Smiling’ on his violin.

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The flags at Belleville city hall and all city buildings were at half mast following Culhane’s death for two weeks.

One of the flags were presented to the Culhane family at the meeting along with the book of condolences that any citizen could sign to say goodbye to the councillor.

The family was also presented with letters of condolence from neighbouring municipalities, agencies she served with, newspaper articles that reported her passing and her councillor name tag.

Culhane’s sister Anne Bunnett spoke at the meeting on behalf of the Culhane family.

“Our family are so grateful for the support she got here. She was really enjoying this term. You will miss her and we will miss her terribly,” she said.

“It will be a long time before we see someone like Pat again,” Panciuk said.