When the dust settled over Meadow Lake City Hall, 11 names were on the ballot for the upcoming municipal election.
Mayor Merlin Seymour will continue being mayor into the next term, with his run for the mayor’s seat being uncontested. Meadow Lake residents will now decide the six councillors who will make it to the table during the municipal election on Nov. 9.
This will be Felicia Adams’ first time on the city council ballot.
Adams and her family, including two young boys, have made a home in Meadow Lake since moving here eight years ago. Since then the Lakeview Elementary School teacher has joined the Northwest Community Lodge Association as an executive on their board of directors. Being a part of that decision-making process and meeting people within the community has driven her interest in municipal politics.
“I want to be able to help make Meadow Lake a more safe place for myself, my family, the residents here. I really want people to feel like their opinions matter, [address] things that they want to see change and see those steps actually get taken and those changes can happen.”
Safety is Adams’ number one concern that she wants addressed if she becomes councillor. Adams wants to work closely with the RCMP and Saskatchewan Health to make the community a safe place.
Her career in education will be an asset to her new position with the city, she said in her bio on the Meadow Lake website.
“My career in education has provided me with the skills and insights that I believe would be useful at the council table, in serving the public, and in dealing with our neighbouring municipalities.”
This will be Amber Ambroziak’s first time on the ballot in her nearly 10 years of living in Meadow Lake. Improvements are not going to happen overnight, she said, but different ideas will come from the new faces that will join council after the Nov. 9 election.
“I'd like to be that voice. I'd like to be able to be the person that is able to listen to everybody’s questions, concerns, suggestions, all that and then bring it to Council, and then be able to speak to everyone else as well back and relate back to them in more simpler terms or have the answers.”
Safety in Meadow Lake is a major concern for Ambroziak looking ahead to the next term. Having more activities for kids is a big part of that, as well as better lighting on the streets and in the alleyways and more care given to people’s yards.
“I do see little kids walking down the street that might be four or five years old going to school. Then when you're hearing a bunch of stuff that's happening around town, it makes you really concerned.”
Ambroziak currently manages the local movie theatre and has been involved with Citizens on Patrol, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Northern Pikes Wrestling and the Meadow Lake Chamber of Commerce.
Shawn Brander will be another new name on the ballot this year for the Meadow Lake council. With his work as an industrial electrician, a control system specialist, and post-secondary education, as well as an interest in IT, Brander said there are many new interests to the council table.
“Engineering, planning, innovation, things like that I'm very familiar with and have been pursuing for a long time. I could bring some interesting things to the table.”
Brander was born and raised in the RM of Meadow Lake not far out from the city and has been living in the city for many years.
Being on the outside looking into city procedure, Brander said he sees the hard work of city staff in moving the city in the right direction. While he wants to make sure things are being done as effectively and efficiently as possible, Brander said he wants to continue building on what the city has already done.
“I support these people and look forward to working with them. Obviously, innovations, that's where you leverage technology and ideas to get more output to less money. So that's ideal.”
Brander would also like to look at how Meadow Lake can be a more competitive community. There is a large taxation difference between the city compared to the RM of Meadow Lake. Brander would like to know how that is impacting where people are choosing to live.
While this may be Clay DeBray’s first time on the ballot for the Meadow Lake city council, this is not his first campaign, having run in the 2016 provincial election.
While there are people who believe in him, he believes he can bring new ideas to the council table, he said.
“The biggest goal right now is making sure that we're working as a team at the council if I'm successful [and] representing voices that might not be heard.”
DeBray would also like to see a more diversified council in future elections and look into the possibility of restructuring how municipal elections work so every area of the city has a voice.
With his extensive work across the community, DeBray wears many hats and is deeply rooted in Meadow Lake, he said. He manages the Pineridge Ford Place Arena and Snipe and Celly Pro Shop, works on the recreation department and the education advisory committee with Flying Dust First Nation, a board member for the Meadow Lake Chamber of Commerce, and Director of Hockey for Meadow Lake Minor Hockey.
DeBray is looking to get out into the community and safely knock on doors and introduce people to Clay DeBray, he said.
“I totally understand there are people in the City of Meadow Lake who don't know who Clay DeBray is, so I need to make sure I'm on the doorsteps introducing myself and listening to their concerns.”
Small business owner Kassidy Dunsing has been deeply involved in her community, even before opening up her business, Eatery on Main, two years ago. Putting her name on the ballot for the next city council seemed like the next step in continuing her passion for community involvement, she said.
“Whether it is getting involved with other initiatives that are going on, whether it is leading a community-wide initiative, whether it's donating and fundraising, I've just always been very drawn to bring the community closer together.”
While Dunsing doesn’t have any specific goals in mind for the upcoming council term, she wants to make decisions with the big picture and bringing people together in mind, she said. Starting this new adventure also means new things to learn, including financial and taxpayer information that she has yet to learn from opening up her business or being a member of the Meadow Lake and District Chamber of Commerce.
“The opportunities at hand have so much potential when there are leaders that share the same passion - to make the city of Meadow Lake the best that it can be,” said Dunsing in her bio on the City of Meadow Lake website. “This is what excites me about being a councillor for the City of Meadow Lake.”
Sébastien Dupuis was not available for an interview at the time of publication but according to his bio on the City of Meadow Lake website, Dupuis and his family have been living in Meadow Lake for the last four years with the six before were spent in La Loche as a youth worker.
“Following that, I was employed in the oil sands, where I held numerous leadership and management positions within the facilities maintenance sector,” he said.
Dupuis now works for Meadow Lake Properties, which allows him more time at home with his family.
Dupuis would like to focus on crime prevention and reduction, advocating for mental health supports, and improving infrastructure.
This will be Ron Dishko’s second time on the ballot after being elected in last year’s byelection, he said in his bio on the City of Meadow Lake website as he was unable for an interview before publication.
Dishko is excited to continue working with Mayor Merlin Seymour and the rest of council to, “upgrade streets and infrastructure, continue improving our recreational, Educational, Medical and long term care facilities, as well as working with policing agencies to ensure that Meadow Lake is a safe place to live and raise a family.”
Dishko noted his work as a hospital foundation board member, city representative on the Chamber of Commerce Board and a widespread city volunteer.
Tom Harrison is seeking a second term with the Meadow Lake council after being first elected in 2016. While Harrison was not available for an interview before publication, according to his bio on the City of Meadow Lake website, he and his wife Lorna have lived in Meadow Lake for the past 33 years and was a senior management position with the Ministry of Environment before spending his last three years of work being a management consultant with Mosaic Potash.
In his previous council term, Harrison said he is, “proud to see taxes remain low, and the priority on improving infrastructure especially in areas of paving, and water and sewer improvements. Council has created a positive environment for businesses to grow, new ones to be established, and residents to raise a family.”
Looking forward to the next term, Harrison said he would like to see improvements to the city’s infrastructure and recreation facilities, with council addressing safety in the community and continuing sound fiscal management.
Following his retirement from the City of Meadow Lake after a 30-year career, Levesque continued to be a part of municipal politics as a city councillor.
His name will be on the ballot once again as he wants to continue to help make decisions that help the City of Meadow Lake and keep expenses in line.
“There are a lot of major projects that they're considering and some of them aren't affordable. There has to be some tough decisions made yet.”
Born and raised in Meadow Lake, Levesque said he has had input in developing a lot of the city bylaws and knows how the city and its processes work, including budget, tax, and bylaws. Council is nothing new to him, he said, and being retired, he has a lot of time he wants to continue to dedicate to city hall.
“I think I still have some valuable input to make into whatever decisions they make.”
According to Levesque’s bio on the Meadow Lake website, he has, “dealt with local, provincial, federal and first nation governments, other government agencies and numerous town and city councils.”
Levesque’s 30 years with the City of Meadow Lake includes time as the assistant town administrator, town administrator and interim city manager.
Following eight years as a city councillor with Meadow Lake, Conrad Read wants to continue to make a difference for the city with his name once again on the ballot for a third term.
His first two terms allowed him to make a difference with the city’s strategic plan and other important things that were delivered, he said. Read wants to continue that into the next term, he said, with a focus on water distribution and sewer.
As a district operations manager for the highways ministry, Read knows about road construction and maintenance. While he knew a lot about what happens above ground with road work, he knew little about what went on below ground, he said, the things people don’t see like water, sewer, how old it is, and what happens when it fails.
“We had a water failure depressurize the whole system for about three days and the council at the time put a priority on upgrading the water and sewer system within the community. We've made improvements over the years.”
Read has always been involved in his community, from 15 years as the president of Meadow Lake Minor Hockey, Meadow Lake recreation board for 12 years, his kid’s sporting activities, to a volunteer with the Meadow Lake Wildlife Federation. Once his kids left home, life got boring, he said, so running for council was another way he could give back to his community.
Mauri Young has been a business owner in Meadow Lake since 1980 and she doesn’t want to see the city council taking five steps back, especially due to COVID-19.
We need to bring common sense back into the community, she said in her bio on the City of Meadow Lake website.
“My main concerns are infrastructure, growing the economy, accountability, taxes, crime, having City employees working and communicating together from the ground up so that when we fix things we don't have to re-do the same thing over and over,” she said.
Living in the community for the past 40 years, raising her family here, and being part owner of Ron's Plumbing and Heating and Meadow Lanes/Bear's Den, Young said there are times when she has questioned how things are done. When her mother lived up by the golf course, Young said her street was dug up four times. That’s a waste of money that could have been avoided, she said.
“Everybody has new ideas. You listen from the bottom up to improve.”
Meadow Lake has been Young’s home for most of her life, spending 11 years travelling around the province before moving back to raise her family and be a part of the community. Through her business she has been able to support many local organizations, including KidsFirst, the Lions Club, Kinsmen Club, and local schools.
With no one else putting their names on the ballot for the mayor’s chair, current mayor Merlin Seymour will keep his seat for the upcoming term following the Nov. 9 election.
Following former mayor, Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River MP Gary Vidal’s election to the federal government, Seymour was first elected in September 2019 after his time as a city councillor. With the next term fast approaching, Seymour is happy for the chance to keep on giving back and have a say in what’s being done in the community, he said.
Seymour is proud of what the city has done, including $1 million on road paving every year for the last three years, excluding this last year where the city spent $900,000 as well as some outside funding through the Municipal Economic Enhancement Program. Part of that project was doing some much needed work at the Meadow Lake Lions’ Park, he said.
Seymour was also happy to be a part of the new long term care facility project that was announced back in May with the provincial government funding 80 per cent of the cost. This has been a passion project for Seymour, he says, being on the original steering committee since 2014.
“Our old Lodge is in dire needs of repairs or replacements. Just having a voice in how that goes along and now with it being built, makes it even better.”
Seymour grew up on a farm outside of Meadow Lake and moved into the city back in 1989.
Becky Zimmer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist