Last October 24th, citizens of the Town of Melita exercised their democratic right to vote for their Council. First of all, thank you to those that put their name forward for Council because they wanted to make a difference and serve the community. We need more people stepping up and answering the call for public service. I would like to congratulate our elected Council members with whom I will be serving alongside this term. I would also like to extend my gratitude towards members of our community for letting me serve another four years as Mayor.
How will the next four years look like?
This Council is tasked to work hard for our rural community to make sure it remains sustainable and competitive amidst constant challenges. Our duty is to map out Melita for the future, not just the next four years, but for the next 10 to 20 years.
It is time to be progressive and look at new ideas to keep our community moving forward. We do not have all the answers but we can listen and learn from “out of the box ideas” other communities may have succeeded in.
My previous term has been concentrated on major infrastructure projects that can handle future growth. By the end of 2018, our new flood protection system and lagoon expansion projects will be complete. This will position our community as a potential centre in the Southwest corner of the province. We were also able to improve on key public spaces such as the Melita Legion Hall, Central Park, River Park Campground, and paved Main, Ash, & Centre Streets, among others.
We have also seen the difference in some of the smaller but equally important projects around the town with the help of our volunteers, community organizations, business owners, and town staff. Recently, our economic development officer was the recipient of a provincial award as the Rising Star in Economic Development at the 2nd Economic Developers Association of Manitoba Awards. This award goes towards the entire town. Her achievement in the collaborations around our area and amongst members of our community shows that we are in the right direction.
There is still a lot that we can do. I see three major tasks ahead for our Council:
1. Continue to create a town that has something for everyone, making it an ideal place to live, work, play, and grow. I would like Council to consider maintaining and building on the Town’s infrastructure including water and sewer systems, roads, parks, sidewalks and potentially a trail system. Consider more opportunities to work with local organizations to attract businesses and vital service providers to our area making these accessible to our residents. Prepare for our ageing population and ensure services and various living options are available for every stage in life. Support other community building initiatives led by community groups that help preserve our heritage, increase our capacity and energy efficiency, and make our community a great place to live in, which are too many to list. To name a few of these initiatives, these are the Museum, Communiplex, and annual Banana Days Festival projects. I would like to leverage and inspire more community engagement and volunteerism in the community.
2. I would like to maintain an open dialogue internally and externally between Council, staff members, and the public to ensure transparency, accountability, and communication of government programs are cascaded to the rest of the community. I would like Council to continue to review and enhance services and programs with innovation and best practices in mind to meet the needs of our thriving community. I would like to encourage regular resident feedback/input on initiatives and projects so we can improve community engagement. I would like to have a proactive municipal government that provides solutions to foreseeable challenges and yet, maintain an efficient and fiscally responsible approach to optimize our resources. We will continue to look for federal and provincial grants that will help support our projects.
3. I will ask Council to explore ways on how we can cross municipal boundaries and forge partnerships in order for our region to succeed. There are certain issues that are better discussed collaboratively because of our symbiotic relationship with nearby municipalities. There are federal and provincial programs that favour regional cooperation in certain initiatives such as investment attraction. A coordinated approach can help the region to collectively agree on future priorities and to work together to tackle the large issues. We can share knowledge, focus on building a stronger region, effectively plan for growth, and increase the quality of life in the area.
It is important for us as a community to continue working together and help ensure the growth readiness of our area. This Council will work hard to make sure our town remains to be sustainable and progressive in the next 10 to 20 years.