Walmsley doesn't want to see Neepawa miss the train


By Kate Jackman-Atkinson

The Neepawa Banner

A desire to give back to the community motivated Don Walmsley’s decision to run in the Neepawa byelection. The long-time resident is hoping to help shape Neepawa’s future.

Walmsley has spent 33 years in the community and said that it has been a great home for his family. He has been involved in community groups and committees, but said that he would like the opportunity to give back to the greater community, “looking at the town as a whole”.

With the town undergoing dramatic changes in the last few years, Walmsley thinks council needs to look at different ways of doing things. “The demographics of our community have changed significantly.  As a result, [it’s] changed how we have to look at the way we do things and the direction that the community needs to take,” he said. The Town can’t necessarily carry on doing things as they have been done in the past, Walmsley added.

This growth has expanded both the labour pool and the town’s population of children and has created both challenges and opportunities.

Talking to community members, Walmsley said that top of mind issues are the new hospital and fire hall. “Those are issues that the Town needs to deal with,” he said.

Talking about the hospital, Walmsley said, “The question becomes: One, I don’t think anyone disagrees that we need a [new] hospital. Two, the question is where to put it.” He continued, saying, “When the decision [for a Franklin location for the hospital] was floated, that was before [Neepawa] had such a dramatic change.  The time has come for us to re-look at that. We may come back to the same response, [but] we are obligated to look at what best meets the needs of the community.”

Housing is another issue of great importance to the community.  While Walmsley praised the work done in the community already, he said that as a council, they have to make decisions not just for the present, but also for the future. “Every council lays some groundwork down for succeeding councils…. What are we leaving behind?” he said. 

Since retiring from a 27-year-long career with the provincial department of Child and Family Services, Walmsley has done a variety of jobs in the community, including working with Settlement Services as well as helping area businesses streamline their processes. He explains that he has extensive experience with planning; logical and empirical decision making and being part of a collaborative process. He praised council’s recent work on improving their processes. He said that accountability, transparency and making the best decisions for the greatest number are key priorities for any council.

Looking to the future of the town, Walmsley said, “The future is exciting, dynamic, challenging and I want to be part of that. I think I can bring skills to the table that will allow me to play a positive role in that whole process.”  He added that council’s current combination of long-time councillors and new faces, with experience in other areas, is positive. “The combination really bodes well,” he noted 

Walmsley said, “I think it’s time for me to step up the challenge.  We [the Town] either are able to capitalize [the opportunities] it or we miss the train as it leaves the station. And I don’t want to miss the train. I want us to catch that train.”

Advance voting took place June 1 and voters will head to the polls on June 17 in the byelection to elect a new councillor.