By Cole Parkinson
A new year brings a new sense of optimism for towns and municipalities across the province.
After two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, that optimism might be lower than it was in previous years, but despite that, the Town of Vauxhall is ready for whatever may lay ahead in 2022.
Like everyone else, 2021 was dominated by the pandemic which led to plenty of challenges for the town. And while many challenges were heightened by the pandemic, Mayor Ray Coad was pleased with how the town responded.
“We met the challenge brought on by COVID 19 and while we are not finished, we continue to move forward. It has been difficult and discouraging, but we can be proud to say we have done our best to cope with this nuisance of this disease,” he said.
While the federal snap election generated tons of interest across Canada in September, municipal elections were held in October. While Vauxhall struggled to fill vacant seats during the 2017 election, 2021 actually saw Vauxhallites return to the polls. With eight names put forward for seven spots, town council saw four returnees and three new councillors at the table. Alongside Coad, Deputy Mayor Kim Cawley, Coun. Margaret Plumtree, and Coun. Marilyn Forchuk all returned and were joined by new councillors Kim Egeland, Shelley Deleeuw, and Barry Thomson. With new voices at the table for the next four years, Coad is excited to work with councillors on a variety of new projects in 2022.
“It was exciting to see the interest in the town as displayed in the municipal election. We have three new councillors and we look forward to their input. They bring a new perspective and ideas that will contribute to the direction the town is going,” confirmed Coad.
Looking ahead to the new year, the town has plenty of things to be excited about. With a plethora of things on tap early in the new year, council is excited to start and complete a variety of different projects over the next 12 months.
“Renovations of the kitchen in the community hall are complete. I have yet to see it, but I am told that it is impressive. The community hall can now cater to functions of up to 400 — that is as soon as COVID rules are relaxed,” stated Coad.
Council is also keeping its eye on several buildings within the town. With many facilities and other infrastructure reaching older ages, they realize more maintenance may be required moving forward.
“Looking forward to 2022, the Town will face the challenges of aging infrastructure as it relates to the arena, curling rink, and a sewer line to provide relief to the sanitary sewer system. We await the decision of the provincial government concerning policing and the implications it will have on the town,” added Coad.
From a council perspective, they have plenty on their list of tasks. One of those is reviewing their strategic plan, which began in late 2021.
“Council will be reviewing its strategic plan this year. It has been six years since the last plan was adopted. It is time to adjust and move forward,” stated Coad.