On election day, October 26, Ron Mamchuk hopes that the residents of St. Adolphe will support him for a third term in office.
“I’ve learned a lot, and there’s a lot more to learn,” Mamchuk says.
Mamchuk has developed a great respect for the teamwork ethic that’s developed between the current group of council members. It was a refreshing change, he says, from his first term in office when division within the ranks resulted in a dissolution of council and forced a byelection.
And since this new council assumed power four years ago, a lot of residential growth has occurred. According to the RM office, more than 2,000 new voters have been added to Ritchot’s voters list since 2018.
Just under 700 of those new residents have settled in Mamchuk’s hometown and he couldn’t be more thrilled.
But growth like this will require some effort going forward to ensure that water and sewer infrastructure doesn’t lag behind. It’s a tricky dance, he says, planning for the future without neglecting aging infrastructure.
Being a council member, Mamchuk adds, means recognizing that each individual community is only a small part of the whole. Sometimes this means that residents of St. Adolphe may have to wait while more pertinent projects are completed in other communities first.
“We just can’t do everything in one community and not the other,” Mamchuk says. “That’s why we have staff going around and prioritizing what needs to be done. People need to understand that I’m only 20 percent of the vote on council.”
Another message Mamchuk would like to convey to his constituents is the limited range a municipal government has in terms of spending and control. While there’s so many things he’d love to do for his community, he says, in many cases the final decision lies in the hands of the provincial government.
One good example of this, says Mamchuk, is St. Adolphe’s main street, which is in a state of major disrepair this year. Because the street falls under provincial jurisdiction, council’s hands are tied when it comes to repairs and how quickly they’ll happen.
The issue of speeding cars along that same street has also been a cause of resident concern, one that Mamchuk has been grappling with since first taking office. He’s reached out to the local RCMP detachment and Manitoba Transportation and Infrastructure over the years with little to show for his efforts.
Even with the recent acquisition of traffic speed display signs, he says that council is at the mercy of the province to approve their use and hook them up electrically.
In the meantime, Mamchuk has an appeal to commuters who travel through the community on a regular basis.
“Please slow down, as this is a big concern for all residents,” he says. “This is a big safety concern for pedestrians and young children who live along this road.”
Other amenities have also been slow in coming to the community, Mamchuk adds, but it’s not for lack of trying.
Aging St. Adolphe residents still have few options when it comes to remaining in the community they love. And since council’s mandate does not include dabbling in real estate, Mamchuk says all they can do is hope that the right developer comes along.
“This is another thing we’ve been fighting for and we’re just not making any progress,” he says.
He hopes, though, that it’s just a matter of finding that sweet spot where residential growth inevitably results in adult-living housing options and growth of the commercial sector.
Looking back on this past term in office, Mamchuk says that many accomplishments have been made. One of his proudest moments was the day council gave the final stamp of approval on the St. Adolphe Childcare Centre.
“They are at capacity with the number of spots their staff is able to fill, plus there’s a waiting list,” Mamchuk says proudly.
As well, the completion of sidewalks between Tourond Creek and the older neighbourhoods of St. Adolphe is a major win for the community.
“In the future, we want to improve our walking paths and greenspaces. It takes time. Rome wasn’t built in a day.”
For Mamchuk, being retired affords him time to dedicate to council work. On an average week, he says he spends six to eight hours in local meetings and doing research. But additional time is also required to participate in the other four or five regional board meetings he attends regularly, not to mention St. Adolphe Community Club and recreation committee meetings.
In the end, Mamchuk says a councillor is never really off-duty, especially in a small-town setting where he runs into residents with questions and concerns on almost a daily basis.
“I’m a people person,” Mamchuk says. “I like dealing with people, especially in our community. My wife and I have lived here for 46 years and we have a son and daughter and four grandkids growing up here. And I hope they carry the baton into the future, whether it’s by sitting on boards or eventually being a councillor or mayor or whatever. I want them to be involved in the community’s affairs.”
As for his current campaign, Mamchuk isn’t completely clear on his strategy but knows one thing for certain: he won’t accept any donations toward his campaign costs.
“I don’t want someone giving me, say, $500 and then expecting something in return… [and] I won’t promise anything I can’t deliver.”
Brenda Sawatzky, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Niverville Citizen