My perspective - Shaping the future


Kate Jackman - Atkinson
Neepawa Banner & Press

As the new year starts, it’s common to look back at the year that was. Here at the Neepawa Banner & Press and Rivers Banner, we recently compiled a list of the year’s most popular stories, according to page views on our news site, We’ve been doing this for a few years and while it’s interesting to readers, it also helps us better understand the type of stories that people want to read.

This year’s top stories were: Major upgrades are looming for the Yellowhead Arena (3,061 individual online views); Offensive graffiti found across Neepawa (3,289 views); Bad blood already in Neepawa/Cartwright series (3,451 views); Krzyzaniak shortlisted for Olympics (3,842 views); HMK takes a walk for Terry (4,025 views); Fatal train collision in Arden (4,936 views); Neepawa Natives Chase the ace prize won (5,347 views); From small town Manitoba to Hollywood North (7,088 views); Neepawa homicide (18,821 views) and Local couple found safe (29,671 views).

This list highlights the challenges facing not just the news media, but the greater community.  Of  365 days’ worth of stories, only one of the top 10, the story about upgrades to the Yellowhead Centre, was related to local politics. That is, if you consider politics to include community boards, in addition to elected levels of government.

While we report on all three levels of government, we tend to focus on the decisions made by local governments and organizations. After all, these are the decisions that most impact our day-to-day lives. Despite that, these aren’t the stories most people care about, that is, until a decision has been made and residents start to think about the implications. By then, it’s usually too late.

Having said that, here in Neepawa, a few local issues did generate a fair bit of reader interest; including a variation order to allow for a boarding house, the sale of legal marijuana in the Town and funding shortfalls for perpetual care at the cemetery. But these are the exception, rather than the rule and none of them cracked our top 10 stories.

The new year is a time for setting goals and making plans for the future and many people want to make a difference. In 2018, Manitoba residents really can make a difference in their communities. This year is a municipal election year and on Oct. 24, voters across the province will cast their ballots and elect the people whose decisions will have the most impact on their daily lives. In some jurisdictions, the seats are filled by acclamation and voters don’t even have the chance to cast a ballot. There are many fantastic local representatives who are doing a great job, but there are also many who aren’t.

Covering local politics, I know it’s a thankless job, but it’s also an undeniable way to give back to your community and help shape the future. We all want to see our communities move forward and a diversity of experiences and voices is one way to see that happen.

In order to qualify as a candidate, a person need only be a Canadian citizen, be at least 18 years of age on Election Day and be an eligible voter in the municipality, which means they must either be a resident or own property for six months prior to the date of the election.

If you look at what’s happening in your community and you’re happy with what you see, that’s great!  But if you look around and what you see doesn’t reflect your vision for the community and its future, maybe it’s time to think about more than just casting a ballot. Maybe it’s time to cast your hat into the ring.