Time for communities to plan


Ken Waddell
The Neepawa Banner

School is back in and for many people, that means “getting back to normal”.


It is quite obvious that a lot of what we do in Manitoba revolves around the school cycle. Certainly governments, at all levels slow down in the summer. Some companies slow down as well.

That said, it’s time for people in all our communities to look ahead. What does our future hold?

Will our community grow? Will it fade away? Sad to say, many communities are struggling more than others and some communities have all but disappeared.

Once a community has decided what is the desired goal for the future, the next obvious question is how to get there? Attention must be directed towards many factors, but there is one common factor in every town village and RM and that is: “Who is going to be on council?” The next municipal election is in the fall of 2018. That’s correct, only a little over a year away.

Is your community satisfied with the council, the mayor or reeve? Has the council for the past four, eight or more years taken the community where it should be going? There may be some satisfaction in every community but I doubt there is total satisfaction in any community. I suspect that most communities will want to see more and faster progress on many fronts. It should be a natural desire in a community.

So how does this whole council election thing work? Actually, it doesn’t always “work’ all that well. Many council seats are filled by acclamation, that is to say there is only one candidate for each seat. That is usually a bad thing. For elections to really work and bring renewal, there should be more candidates than seats. There needs to be a choice and there needs to be fresh new ideas. 

Every community should have at least an informal nomination committee. People should be encouraged to run for council and they need to want to be there for the right reasons. If they are there for the money, they shouldn’t be there. The salary is low and yes, it’s nice to get paid something for your efforts, but if the money is the whole reason, then it’s the wrong place to be. The local “nomination committee”, an informal group for sure, needs to generally look for younger candidates if they are available. Many councillors have been around for way too long. Many of today’s councillors started when they were much younger and that was a good thing. There needs to be a lot more councillors in their 20s, 30s and 40s than we currently have in many communities.

The older people have the experience and some of them are retired and have the time. However, if there isn’t a renewal and some younger people involved, then the community will almost certainly die off.

Prospective mayors, reeves and councillors need to take out nomination papers, get a number of signatures and plan a campaign. They need to speak out on issues and the range of issues at a local level is certainly wider than it was 30 or 40 years ago. Health care facilities, doctor recruitment and retention and major recreation facility projects are all front and centre in communities. Water pipelines in rural areas simply didn’t exist in the old days, but are now becoming common place.

The local council is certainly not the only part of a community, but it is one of the most important parts. And for all those young people who mighty be holding back on getting involved, I have message for you. If you are in your 20s, 30s or 40s, you will be paying for whatever decisions are made (or ignored) in your community for a lot longer than many of the rest of us. Think about it. Young people usually have a lot more future ahead of them to live and pay for than some of us older people.

And finally, if you don’t get involved in politics, you will be governed by those who do.