Gerrard hopes to help shape Town of Neepawa's future


By Kate Jackman-Atkinson

The Neepawa Banner

As the Town of Neepawa enters a period of change, council candidate Darryl Gerrard is looking for a seat at the council table in order to help shape that future. A business owner and farm machinery salesman, Gerrard is also hoping to bring a business owner’s perspective to Neepawa council.

This is an important time for the town and Gerrard said, “The biggest reason I wanted to get involved is [to have a role in] shaping the Neepawa that’s about to start to happen.” He explains that Neepawa is at a stage of renaissance, “We’ve seen a rapid change in the people in the community.  Most of our town assets are 50 to 60 years old.  I want to be a part of shaping Neepawa going forward, to try to put a long term vision to it.”

Gerrard would like to see a community that is able to meet the needs of its residents, many of whom are asking for more in terms of activities and services. “I would like to see a community that’s growing, going forward, that’s attractive to young people to either move to or stay,” he explained.

Gerrard sees a couple of priority areas for the town going forward. One is to see additional employment through either another major industry, or the establishment of new businesses in town. “To me, that’s an important one,” he said.

He would also like to see the Town work with community groups that are hoping to develop projects within the town, to better take advantage of funding opportunities.  “If we could get some of these groups organized to the point to have shovel ready projects, we could participate in say, the Canada 150 Programs and things like that.  Until we can get the groups organized to do that, we are going to continue to miss those opportunities.”  Having a plan ready to go is extremely important, said Gerrard, “If you start working on it when they announce the program, it’s too late.”

As for what ratepayers see as important issues, Gerrard said that the new hospital and firehall are the hot button issues. He said, “It appears more and more that we’re going to see a regional health care facility and I want to make sure we are there to talk about what happens in the vacuum.” He added that he would like to know what kind of facility they should expect should a new regional hospital be built at Franklin. “If the province wants us to move to a regional hospital, is it going to just be the same thing [as we have now] out there? Or are we going to see it grow into a centre of excellence?” he asked.

As for the fire hall, he said that with many residents concerned about the state of the current fire hall, “We  need to get it happening and we may have to look at creative ways of funding it.”

With economic development so vital to the town’s future, Gerrard feels that it’s important that the business community have a stronger role on council. “I think it’s important to have one of the business owners involved in council,” he said.