Brian Fergusson said he (along with his wife) knocked on 900 doors in White City on his way to winning the mayor’s chair in the town’s Nov. 9 municipal election, sensing along the way a mood for change.
With approximately 1,200 developed properties in the town, that’s a lot of steps on a Fitbit, but Fergusson noted it was worth it in order to connect with residents as the semi-retired IT executive sought office.
“I’m not sure there was a real consensus on the kind of change they were looking for,” Fergusson said. “I think they shared a lot of the concerns any resident would have. What are my taxes going to look like? What are my water rates going to look like? What’s the future of the town going to look like?”
That future, Fergusson hopes, will include the town’s stated goal to annex additional RM of Edenwold land, a contentious project between the two municipalities and a matter that will be decided by the Saskatchewan Municipal Board in upcoming months.
“I’ve been a resident here for 21.5 years and, for a long time, I’ve felt that it was ludicrous that we have two separate administrations managing what is effectively a single community. It’s an administrative cost, but you also lose the buying power on things like garbage collection and cleaning of streets,” Fergusson said. “The whole myriad of issues municipalities make available to its residents. I’ve been solidly behind (annexation) from the get-go. And once it was announced there was an initiative, I definitely got behind that.”
There are other issues on the horizon such as a recreation centre proposal that was discussed extensively behind closed doors by the previous council. A Town Centre proposal is also being discussed as a concept. First and foremost, however, a municipal budget will have to be debated.
“There’s always the oversight to only spend where we need to and to hold the line as much as we need to, but the town has definitely incurred additional costs due to COVID-19,” said Fergusson. “There’s other aspects as well. The community centre doesn’t have the same level of rentals it normally would have and costs have gone up. There’s the inevitable of planning for the future to make sure we are doing all the things we need to meet the needs of a growing community.”
Fergusson defeated 14-year incumbent mayor Bruce Evans to earn the mayor job. Evans, who had been wavering about whether to run again before filing nomination papers, acknowledged Fergusson worked hard to get the victory.
“I thought the campaign was very above board and non-confrontational,” Evans said. “Brian worked hard and knocked on a lot of doors and I truly do wish him all the best.”
Evans said he was most proud to have been mayor of the “fastest growing town in Canada for two census periods.”
“At the same time, we have been able to keep up with the necessary infrastructure requirements and keep our taxes the lowest in the region,” Evans said. “While we have been able to do that, we have been able to convince the provincial government that we needed a new RCMP depot, which they moved from Regina to here. We were able to secure a second elementary school and we are at the top of the list with the Prairie Valley School Division for a third elementary school and a high school. We did that with the help of the development community.”
Evans said he wasn’t disappointed with the loss, as it was time for new faces around the council table. He offered some parting advice for the new council.
“Keep within the fiscal and financial needs of the community,” Evans said.
Fergusson and the new council have been sworn in and had their first meetings on Monday.
Keith Borkowsky, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Quad Town Forum