Pat Jackson - Mayor of Kipling

2023 in Retrospect

For Kipling Mayor Pat Jackson, the focus throughout much of 2023 has been on seeing the completion of a major project for the community.”
“The big project that was completed in 2023 was Phase Two of the Arena Upgrade – which came in at over a half million dollars.
“The upgrade involved several things. A wall that was showing signs of possible collapse has been rebuilt and is now sturdy. We now have a new entrance and ramp which means that the building is now wheelchair accessible, and we have an accessible bathroom in the facility. Now, anyone in our community who would like to come and watch curling, or a hockey game has access to our arena. So, this upgrade accomplished some big things.
“In addition, we put new siding on the outside of the building. And while that was being done, it was found that some of the screws that held the tin roof in place were popping out. So, we redid the roof (something that was not planned). And some necessary upgrades were made to the ice plant.
“These were expensive tasks. The ice plant alone was close to a quarter million dollars. But we were fortunate enough to receive ICIP funding of $305,000 as well as a $50,000 grant from the Richardson Foundation (Richardson Pioneer). This funding along with grants from Cornerstone Credit Union ($15,000), Enbridge ($10,000) and Crescent Point Energy ($1,000) were a tremendous help.
“And the bottom line is that these were things that had to be done if we were to have a building that was secure and accessible. This arena will have to function for some time yet, because it could be several years before a new arena is built.”
Nonetheless, Jackson says that 2023 was also the year when the community began making steps towards the eventual construction of a new arena.
“The Town of Kipling and our two neighbouring RMs (Kingsley and Hazelwood) have a Joint Leisure Services Committee in place. One of the things that committee spoke to all three councils about was the need for a feasibility study for a new arena, and that Feasibility Study was done.
“Everything in that Feasibility Study is a projection because it is looking ahead so many years. But as the community starts working towards constructing a new arena, this study shows what steps need to be taken. And it gives us some sense of what kind of cost we are likely to be looking at, which encourages people to start working towards putting money aside for it now.
Aside from this major project, Jackson says that the Town of Kipling took steps to improve traffic safety for residents in the community.
“We have our new Digital Speed Signs at both of the highway entrances into town as well as one the corner of Third Street and Sixth Avenue. This corner was a priority for us, since we have the school buses coming out here and have kids going to the daycare across the street after school.
“We hope that these signs will remind drivers of how important it is to slow down when they come into our community and provide an extra layer of safety for school kids.”
As well, Jackson says that Council has continued to do necessary maintenance on another of Kipling’s assets, that being the community’s Urban Forest.
“We have about 150 Elm Trees in Kipling and about ten years ago, we started bringing experts in to do a survey of them every year. Last year, one tree was found to be diseased and had to be destroyed. It was taken down within 24 hours of our being made aware of it. This year, we’re clean.
“So, even though we have some older trees in town, they are being cared for. I’ve seen older photos of Kipling that ,show quite a barren landscape with no trees in sight. All of the trees we have were planted and nurtured, and we can’t take them for granted. If we’re going to have an urban forest, we have to look after it.”
As the Town moves ahead into 2024, Jackson says that some significant changes will be taking place.
“Our CAO Gail Dakue will be retiring soon. We do have a company hired that is recruiting for the position. But council is involved in the interviewing and will make the final decision. So, we’ve spent considerable time over the past couple of months, reading resumes and interviewing, and reference checks are being done now.
“This process has taken a lot of time and effort. But we’re hopeful that we will find that person who is appropriate for the position and our community. Gail has been in that position for almost 20 years and has done a tremendous job. Ideally, we will find someone who can come in, build on what’s been done with some fresh ideas, and make the position theirs.”
As well, Jackson says that Kipling Town Council will look quite different by the end of 2024.
“One of the things that our new CAO will be busy with next year is the election that is happening in November. Both Councillor Johnson and I have indicated that we will not be running again. So, no matter what happens during the elections, there will be some new faces at the Council Table.
“It will take some effort to turn a new CAO and newly elected council into a cohesive team. But as one council member noted, this might be an opportunity for the town to take a deep breath and explore possible ways that we could be doing things differently.”
Nonetheless, Jackson says that there has been some discussion about how the current Council might provide some guidance for their successors.
“There has been some discussion as to whether or not the current Council should be doing up another Strategic Plan that would extend into the new council’s mandate.
“Some have expressed the concern that doing this might tie the new council’s hands. But in my opinion, doing that would provide an inexperienced council with some guidance as to what a Strategic Plan is, what kinds of thing should be on it, and how it can be a usable, living document.”
As well, Jackson says that council will be looking to complete one of the items left on the current Strategic Plan.
“One of the things on our Strategic Plan that remains undone is a new Splash Park for the community. We’ve been looking at what an ideal location that provides easy access, adequate room for parking and proximity to a water supply. And I think that council will be looking to proceed with that this year.”
Moreover, Jackson says that in the area of Asset Management, council will continue to lay down a foundation that future councils can build on.
“Asset Management will also be something we’ll continue to look at in 2024. We’ve been working hard to develop and maintain solid records of every asset that the Town of Kipling owns (which includes the date it was purchased, life expectancy, maintenance costs and projected replacement costs).
“In doing this, we’ve adopted a very forward-thinking approach that involves looking ahead, sometimes far into the future. But having this approach has served us well in the past. For example, when it came time for this community to look at constructing a new fire hall, we had money put aside for that. So, this is something we will continue to do this year, in the hope that the next council will take what we’ve done and build on it.

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