One new face, five returning on Neepawa town council

There will be mostly familiar faces around the Neepawa town council table after four of six incumbents were re-elected in Wednesday’s election.

Darryl Gerrard, Murray Parrott, Jason Nadeau and Marijka Kostenchuk all ran for re-election and succeeded. Lisa Pottinger, who had served on council before the 2018-2022 term, threw her hat back in the ring again and was rewarded by receiving enough votes to rejoin council.

The only new person at the table is Yvonne Sisley, an administrator at ArtsForward, the town’s arts and culture centre. Though Wednesday’s election was Sisley’s first foray into municipal politics, she’s well-known around Neepawa for her efforts to promote arts and culture and recreation activities.

Sisley hopes that her experience at ArtsForward will prove valuable during her time on council.

“I’m a huge proponent of us needing to move in a different direction with [regards to] recreation in town. It was important for me to … get it out there that arts and culture is a part of recreation,” she said, adding she also wants to bring more attention to Indigenous matters.

“That’s definitely something I’m going to bring to council. I’m hopefully planning to add to it more,” she said.

Returning councillor Nadeau agreed that recreation should be a main focus of the new town council.

“I’ve been running my campaign on quality of life for residents,” he said. “That involves working on our roads, community safety and recreation.”

Nadeau said he also wants to focus on improving health care in Neepawa, something that is fresh in people’s minds after provincial Health Minister Audrey Gordon made a stop in the community on Oct. 17 to announce that preparation work for construction of a new hospital will begin the first week of November.

As the Sun previously reported, the facility, which will cost $127 million, should be complete in 2025, and will feature 63 acute care inpatient beds, an expanded emergency department, and newly established renal services for kidney patients.

Nadeau said he feels very fortunate to have the chance to serve the people of Neepawa for another four years.

“I think that the residents of Neepawa have been very happy with the old council, and I think they feel that we’ve been doing a good job overall.”

Nadeau said the other candidates who put their names forward, including Dean Dietrich, Brian Elgert and Mary Ann Marquez-Hunstad, would also have done a great job serving the community.

“They had a lot of strengths, so our current residents had a lot of good choices to choose from,” Nadeau said. “For those candidates that were successful and unsuccessful, it’s really great that they did stand up and let their name run.”

The six councillors join former deputy mayor and acclaimed Mayor Neepawa Brian Hedley, manager of the Neepawa-Gladstone Co-op. In a statement made to the Sun on election day, Hedley said he applauded all nine candidates who ran for council.

“I personally know most of them and feel any one of them are capable of doing the job. The town has excellent managers and staff for us to work alongside, so I feel the community will be in good hands.”

Preparing Neepawa for the new hospital and improving the town’s wastewater treatment plant, along with the reconstruction of Park Lake — which was severely damaged due to record rainfall in the summer of 2020 — are things Hedley is looking forward to working on as the town’s mayor.

Thirty-one per cent of Neepawa citizens came out to vote, said Colleen Synchyshyn, the town’s chief administrative officer.

She said she feels positive about working with the new mayor and council over the next four years.

“All in all, all nine candidates would have made a great team … we were very pleased with the results. Good people stepped up, so this is really nice. It’s a shame we couldn’t have them all.”

Miranda Leybourne, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brandon Sun