by Sierra D’Souza Butts
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Throughout the year of 2021, Kipling’s town council prioritized the infrastructure of the community and because of it, Mayor Patricia Jackson says the community has taken some steps forward.
Looking back throughout 2021, what were the highlights for Kipling?
“In December of last year, the town took over the primary management (of the rec facilities). We dissolved the Parks and Recreation board and took over the primary management of the recreation facilities. We’d already been managing the pool, but the arena and ball diamond was under the recreation board. But us taking over has come with a lot of good things and like all things, some growing pains but it’s a process,” says Jackson.
“We have done and completed a structural assessment of the arena, we had an engineering firm do that because the arena is close to being 60 years old. We want to make sure that everything is up to par so we have now completed that. We broke down the work into phases. Phase one was a few things that absolutely needed to be done, not necessarily massive things, but some tasks that over the years kind of got slipped past. We have got the plans underway for phase two which will include a little bit of structural work, and right now we’re waiting to hopefully get a grant to assist with that because that’s going to be $450,000, give or take.”
What were some of the challenges during the year?
“I think the arena, knowing that it was an older building, that’s been a bit of a challenge. In 2020 we had chosen not to do a lot of street repairs because, let’s face it, there was a lot of uncertainty Covid has caused the greatest challenge for every municipality I think.”
“We thought we would do the absolutely necessary repairs, as it turned out this year we were able to roll that into our annual budget for street repairs. We ended up doing $225,000 in recapping in maintenance and in streets, and we did $25,000 to recap the tennis courts, which are used a great deal not only for tennis but also for basketball. We completed a three year strategic plan, which was a good thing because we got five new councillors from the last election, and so it really helped them learn how a budgeting system has to work and how to get thoughts that they would like to see implemented. How we go about sorting out the absolute needs from the wants, all of that stuff,” she says.
“We completed the south side of the downtown sidewalks, that’s been a three year project and that was $25,000. At the airport, we did line re-panting and we purchased a small weather station. Just this past week we were approved for an FCM grant for $50,000. Our CAO has really been working hard at the asset management and this grant is to help us bring it all together. We also hired another staff member to do maintenance for the recreational facilities. I didn’t realize (until I started preparing for this interview), but it’s been a busy year.”
“I’m absolutely thrilled with all the work that has been done. Covid has been a pain. We’ve been lucky in our community that we haven’t had anyone violently ill or who ended up in the ICU as far as I know, but still, you’re conscious of it at all times.”
What do you see in store for 2022?
“There’s a little project on the way, the ground work is being done, we are doing a community garden next year. The ground has already been tilled and I believe we havehalf, or slightly over half of the plots already spoken for. We do want to continue improvements, as I say our arena is very old and I think one of the next things is getting some serious plans in place for a replacement. I won’t be on council to see it happen, not unless someone has found the money tree. Realistically I won’t be on council to see it happen, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t get the plans in place,” Jackson says.
“We got our water treatment plant in place, we never did have our grand opening for it yet or the library because Covid hit at the wrong time but that’s life. The water treatment plant is up and running, doing well, that’s a big box ticked. We are looking at a new development area that will probably, I say probably because we haven’t gotten into the fine tuning of it at all. But it will have some residential, some recreation, a good small town mixed area. I know that will be part of the plan for the upcoming year. “
In 5 to 10 years down the road from now, what do you see for the town of Kipling?
“I expect by then we will have a small but not massive, increase in population. Just because it’s too hard on the whole infrastructure and it’s too hard to meet the needs (a city with a large increase in population), but we would like to see things increase gently. We’re kind of hopeful that some of the things happening in the areas around us, we’ll assist with that. The wind farm for example, is going to start construction in the Hazelwood and Kingsley area, that will be happening just south of town,” says Jackson.
“That’s something I see happening, which is why we are looking to have plans in place for another subdivision. We still have some lots in our current subdivision and we’ve been very fortunate that some of the people who have chosen to build or move something in, have done infill which I like because then you don’t end up with great big gaps in your residential area.”
“I also hope that we have a very robust ambulance service by then. We’ve been in a fight for more years than I care to count with the provincial government and the health body SHA to insure that, because we’re far enough away from Moosomin, it’s not realistic to expect someone to go there for all of their medical needs. We would like to have things here in our community, with the oil patch, with the upcoming wind farm, with the farming, with the upcoming pig barns, they all are industrial. And as a consequence that the possibility, the probability, of accidents of issues happening that do need an ambulance increase, we do want to have that safety in place.”
As mayor, what are you most proud of from this year?
“Probably the biggest thing that I’m proud of is the fact that our community, for the most part have maybe not embraced, but have accepted that it is the best way to keep all of our residents safe. Even the people who think the vaccines aren’t the answer to everything, they are complying because it is for the good for all of us. I’m very proud of the community for not hiding their heads in the sand and hoping things would just disappear.”
Sierra D'Souza Butts, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The World-Spectator