Note: All the incumbent candidates were given the same set of questions and the one new candidate was given a separate set of questions. The following is Ray Smithson’s interview:
Question:After four years on council what do you see as the five most important issues the Town of Melita is facing? Have these changed in four years? Has there been progress made?
Answer:1) Infrastructure, 2) Health Care, 3) Property Tax, 4) Business Retention, 5) Population Retention,
1) Water System upgrades completed. Very good water. Dike Completed, solved future flooding issues?? Sewage Lagoon completed and operational in 2019. Still some major issues with in ground sewer lines and streets.
2) Health care is a work in progress. 24/7 Ambulance is good. Rumor of another part time doctor is good. A change from Emergency Care (Doctor present to be open) to Urgent Care (Doctor/Nurse Practitioner/Registered Nurse present to be open) would be a step forward for our area so that the hospital is open on a more consistent basis.
3) Property Tax increases with infrastructure levies and new one coming on for lagoon in 2019. Hard to control taxes with the cost of everything going up.
4-5) I feel that we have been holding our own with small progressions.
Question:What do you see as the role for economic development? Does the Town have a Development Plan? Melita has full time development officer.
Answer:No plan written in stone. My direction would be to focus on Tourism, retain and promote existing business, but to keep an open eye for new business and definitely assist new entrepreneurs.
Question:What is the status of the current capital projects? Or any in the works? Arena? Others?
Answer:Lagoon 2019. Communiplex expansion 2019. Then maybe slow down and look at some smaller but important infrastructure issues. Push to Decrease Garbage disposal and increase recycle.
Question: What does the Town of Melita look like in 20 years? What progress has happened? What changes?
Answer: Exactly what we have plus: Two more Dr. Dizons would be nice!! A New Generation of volunteers may immerge. We seem to have skipped a generation?? A Regional hospital within 50km. A dentist, optometrist and maybe a variety store would be nice. Promote what we do best, Agriculture. The governments have been working very hard to make small communities a thing of the past. RCMP, Manitoba Hydro and now Southwest Horizon School Division, are all moving staff out of Melita to larger centers in a time when new Technology should allow these positions to remain in smaller communities.
Question:Please share any further thoughts you have about why you are running for council.
Answer:Couple of projects that I am involve in that I would like to see through to the end. One simple promise: to work hard, to listen and to do my best to represent the residents/business to make the Town of Melita a place where families want to Live, Work and Play.