Mayor Pat Jackson

If the past two years have taught us anything, it is that we cannot know what our future might hold.
Nonetheless, no matter what circumstances one might face, it is always best to have a plan.
Mayor Pat Jackson says that the three-year strategic plan that the Town of Kipling has outlined includes some specific goals for 2022.
“Some of the things included in that plan are ‘forever’ goals. But there are some specific things that we want to focus on implementing this year.”
She notes that some of those goals focus on maintaining infrastructure.
“A homeowner needs to do a certain amount of maintenance on their home regularly, if they want to avoid a costly repair in the future. It’s the same with town infrastructure.
“Every year we allot a certain amount for street repair and maintenance. Most of the work involves filling holes and patching using slurry. Work like this might not seem that important. But if a person drives into a community where this kind of routine maintenance hasn’t been done, you can usually tell pretty quickly!
“Our lift station also requires maintenance every few years. We’ve reached the point where that needs to be done. So, we’ll be looking to take care of that this year.
“We have been doing work to address issues with our sidewalks, particularly the sidewalks in our downtown core. That will continue this year. We finished reconstructing the sidewalks on the south side of our downtown core last year. This year, we’ve allotted a certain amount to continue that work on the north side.”
She explains that work on the arena will also continue this year.
“We did quite a bit of work to upgrade our arena last year. We’ll carry on with that this spring and summer. There’s one retaining wall that will have work done to it. And we’ll we doing renovations to improve accessibility to the facility.
“This is important. We want residents with mobility concerns to be able to at least go to the arena and be involved as a spectator. This is a community facility and everyone in the community should be able to access it.”
As well, Jackson points out that the Strategic Plan focuses on some possibilities for new growth within the community.
“There are several ideas (including the possibility of a Splash Park) that have been suggested. So, we’ll be looking at some of those ideas this year.
“We were able to set up our Community Garden last year. The site was chosen, and the ground has been tilled up. Notifications went out, and at this point there are only four plots that are not yet rented. So, there is a lot of interest in this. It may be that we will have to look at expanding the Community Garden next year.”
Jackson goes on to say that the Town will continue to work with other communities in the area to address ongoing concerns over ambulance service.
“Ambulance service, as well as some other health related issues, remain a concern for communities in the Southeast. We’ve begun working with communities in this region, in the hope that together we’ll have a stronger voice. That will continue.
“Healthcare is the provincial government’s responsibility. We certainly don’t want to alienate the government. But they need to be aware that the current model isn’t working. And if the model you have in place isn’t working, then you need to look into creating a better model that will work.”
She adds that policing is also an ongoing concern for Kipling as well as for many other communities.
“We haven’t yet received definite information from either the Federal or Provincial Government as to how much policing will cost going forward. But we know that there is going to be an increase.
“RCMP officers chose to unionize (something we certainly don’t fault them for). They have successfully negotiated for, and will receive, five years of back pay. That cost would break many municipalities. We are encouraging all municipalities to join a letter-writing campaign, stating that since it was the Federal Government which made this agreement, it is the Federal Government’s responsibility to assume the cost for this back pay.
“Even if that were to happen however, the cost of policing will increase. Smaller municipalities are going to struggle with this cost. So, the Provincial Government, together with SUMA and SARM, have formed a working committee to begin looking at alternatives.
“Here again, we need to take a look at the model, and decide what is working and what isn’t. It may be that we need to have policing built into the social fabric in some way, so that problems can be dealt with before a situation becomes violent.”
Jackson says that as we move ahead into 2022, she is hopeful that ways can be found to build community spirit and bring residents of Kipling and area together.
“With all that we’ve been through, people are tired, and frankly quite ‘fed up’ with the situation. We’re looking for ideas on things that could be done to bring people back together and reignite their passion for their community.
“I would love to see our businesses come together and look at various initiatives. We haven’t had a Chamber of Commerce in Kipling for several years. Perhaps it would be good for businesses to look at ways that they could partner with each other and reach out to the community.
“I’m also hoping that initiatives like the Community Garden will help to bring people together. Along with improving food security, it’s good for the soul to have the opportunity to get outside and work in a garden. And we’ve deliberately placed the Community Garden close to residents who don’t have a back yard…so that they can have the opportunity.”
Ultimately however, Jackson says that it is the compassion and empathy that she believes is a core part of this community’s character, which will allow people in that community to deal with whatever circumstances lie ahead.
“I have concerns about the folks in our community who are alone. My husband Larry and I try to connect regularly with individuals that we know, who are isolated for various reasons. I’d encourage others to do the same, to reach out to their neighbors. And honestly, this is something that I firmly believe we will see happening.
“Larry and I came to this community 37 years ago. At that time, almost all of our ‘ties’ were in Manitoba. It didn’t really make sense that we should choose this community as a place to put down roots. But Kipling chose us. We have people here that genuinely care about each other. That is something that doesn’t exist in every community. And that is why I am so incredibly proud of Kipling.”

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