Meghan Beasant of Niverville is giving residents one more reason to go to the polls on October 26. Beasant’s name will appear on this year’s ballot—and if she wins a seat, it will be the first time in eight years that the town has had female representation.
Beasant and her husband Scott have lived in Niverville for ten years. Come fall, the second of their two young kids will enter the school system, giving this stay-at-home mom more free time to invest in the community she loves.
While she’s been active in a variety of local volunteer positions over the years, including that of president of the preschool program, this will be Beasant’s first foray into municipal politics.
She openly admits to feeling a level of excitement and nervousness over her recent decision.
Beasant was inspired to give it a go, she says, because of an article she read in the May edition of The Citizen which provided guidance on how to run in a municipal election.
“I read the article and I don’t know what came over me,” Beasant muses. “I just got really excited. The year that I was the preschool president had been very challenging, but very rewarding. To be that involved in the community and to have an influence has been really fulfilling for me.”
Why has she decided to throw her hat into the ring? She says it has nothing to do with the current council members. She holds a lot of respect for the team of individuals who has worked hard to keep up in the face of an unprecedented population boom.
Instead it has more to do with the age diversity she feels every council needs. At 36, Beasant feels like she’s in a good position to represent the many young families who have settled into town and those who have yet to move in.
“The infrastructure and the commerce has to grow,” she says. “Those are all very important things. But I do feel like there’s already a lot of that being represented [on council]. What I don’t feel is being represented is the needs of the younger families.”
And indeed, there are a lot of younger families. By demographics, the results of the 2021 census reconfirmed Niverville’s status as one of the youngest communities in the country. Niverville’s average is just 33.2—significantly lower the average age in Manitoba (39.7) and Canada (41.9).
According to Beasant, her focus would be to pay closer attention to the small details that make a community great. For instance, the addition of a library and possibly a public pool, if those are fiscally viable options. She’d like to see paved pathways around the retention ponds, washroom facilities in more of the parks, and more shady areas at the outdoor recreation spots in town.
“Those things, to some people, might seem very minor. Is it really important to a community that’s growing? In my opinion, it is, because otherwise the [young families] in this town are going to feel overlooked.”
Another goal for Beasant is to work at bridging the communication barrier she sees happening between town council and residents. While occasional mailed newsletters serve a purpose, she says they can’t convey things like last-minute water use bans and the like.
Setting up community announcement boards at strategic locations around town would go a long way to helping people stay informed, she concludes. Community billboards would also benefit newcomers to town by providing a list of the many special interest groups and volunteer opportunities that can help them get connected from the get-go.
Community billboards, in locations where people naturally gather, may also be a way to help the growing town maintain its small-town feel. This is a sentiment she sees shared often on social media and one that is a tricky balance to maintain as the community moves ever closer to city status.
“Often you can keep the small-town feel by being respectful of the [look] of a town,” she says. “So when you’re building new things, try and keep it in that appealing aesthetic… Otherwise you can very quickly lose it. If a town is going to look like a slab of concrete, which is what happened to my hometown in [Ontario], it no longer feels like a small town.”
She says that parks, too, can be constructed in such a way as to bring in modern elements without losing the historic character of a place.
As the election draws closer and people return from vacation, Beasant is hopeful to begin a door-to-door campaign.
“I’d like people to be able to see me and see my energy and to feel my excitement for it,” Beasant says. “I like the face-to-face option. That is where I’m most effective.”
In spite of her zeal, Beasant jokes that she has no natural talent for anything in particular. This just means that she has to work very hard at every new thing she takes on. This, she says, is the strength that pushes her into the political arena.
“I’m not a politician at heart. I’m a volunteer at heart and a fellow community member at heart, and that’s why I want to be on [council]. I feel very connected to lots of people in this town from all walks of life. I have a lot of appreciation for the history of this town and I also have a lot of hope for the future of this town. I don’t intend on going anywhere.”
Brenda Sawatzky, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Niverville Citizen