Bill Fast is a familiar name in Niverville, and on October 26 he’ll also be an option on the municipal election ballot. Fast is vying for one of four councillor positions and hopes to serve the next term in office.
“I know that I can make a difference,” Fast says. “And I’ve got lots of time and energy. Everybody who knows me personally knows that I’m just not a [sit-still] kind of guy.”
Recently retired, Fast says he’s been looking for ways to stay busy. So he volunteers his time working on the sponsorship committee for the Niverville Nighthawks. A gifted musician, he also takes his talent to residents living in the assisted living complex who were shut-ins during the pandemic.
He fully appreciates the enormous contribution the current council members have made to the community, but he says it may be time for some fresh faces.
A good council works together as a team, he says, but they should also bring to the table some diversity in skillsets. At the end of a 40-plus year career in sales, his public relations skills are just waiting to be put back into service.
“I have a real understanding of people and I love to deal with them,” Fast says. “That’s my forte… You have to be able to listen to people to make any decisions [on council].”
It begins at the grassroots level, he adds, discerning what your constituents are telling you and valuing the broad nature of the many perspectives you’ll hear.
He may be a senior, but Fast says it’s unfair to assume that getting up in age disqualifies a person from being able to relate to younger generations and the issues they face today.
“I consider myself someone who’s not just in his own little world with his age category. I care about the younger generations, and I think it’s too easy to just put us older people in a box and assume we don’t know what’s going on.”
According to Fast, he’s always been actively involved with his grandchildren. He also works alongside a group of teens and young adults in his church’s worship band.
“I’m inputting into their lives and they’re inputting into mine,” Fast says. “It’s what keeps me young… And I think we have to communicate because it is the younger generation that’s going to [grow] up to make a difference in this community.”
Beyond mere communication, Fast also believes it’s the responsibility of his generation to be pulling in young people and grooming them for active community involvement.
Equally important to communicating with residents and youth, Fast adds that it’s imperative that council establish and maintain good communication with the heads of every local volunteer organization, as they are the boots on the ground that push the community forward.
This isn’t Fast’s first crack at politics. He was elected to Niverville’s council for one term in the early 1980s when Gil Wiebe served as mayor. He was the youngest councillor at the time and had to work hard to prove himself.
“I remember fighting for artificial ice [back then],” says Fast. “The money that this community was spending on having to find [available] ice time somewhere else during playoffs [was excessive and unnecessary].”
Fast had discovered a government grant which would match monies raised for improvements to community sports facilities. He set to work, rallying local businesspeople and residents for financial support. The community quickly got behind the project and all resistance Fast previously faced from council waned in the wake of the project’s success.
Fast’s ancestry goes back two generations in Niverville, to his grandfather who began the business known as Wm. Dyck & Sons. Fast’s parents, as well, were community leaders in their day and gave tirelessly.
Fast was born in Niverville and, apart from a few brief years away, he’s been a resident all his life.
He’s not hung up on keeping the community the small town it was for so many years of his life, though. Instead he sees opportunity in the population’s steady upward climb—opportunity to bring in top-notch recreation, sports, retail, and jobs.
And despite the town’s recent growth, he says we haven’t lost the small-town feel.
“The fair that we’ve got here is second to none,” he says. “It’s well known… and that’s part of the small-town flavour [we still offer].”
In spite of his many years as a resident, there will be many voters who don’t know Fast on a personal basis. To those voters, Fast would like to convey his intent to fill the role of councillor with honesty, integrity, and determination.
“I consider myself progressive as well as fiscally responsible,” Fast concludes.
Brenda Sawatzky, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Niverville Citizen