On the Issues...
- Durston says he has no conflict of interest with no association to any business and with no property other than his own house. "If I sit on council, I will be there making decisions for the community"
- Neepawa's Water and Sewer Infrastructure are the #1 issue for the upcoming three years
- Issues for Mayor & council to address
- Infrastructure- continue with upgrades of water and sewer
- Address need for new facilities for fire, police, municipal and recreation/culture
- work with developers and community to address housing needs
- Be open to new ideas for growth that meets the needs of the community
- Open to discussion with volunteer groups in building the community
- Build relationships with neighbouring municipalities and develop agreements that meet our regional needs
Bob served as mayor 2002-2010; councilor for 21 years and brings this experience to lead council into the future.
Bob was instrumental in bringing Immigrant Services to Neepawa through the cooperation of the NADCO Board; completion of Country Meadows with our partner municipalities, ARHA and the Province
Bob has served as United Way Chair for 3 years, Director of the Beautiful Plains Agricultural Society, Director Junior Rifle Club, Chair of NACI Band Boosters, currently secretary and past president of the Rotary Club of Neepawa
Bob is a retired Agricultural Representative from Manitoba Agriculture and has developed the time management skills to meet the needs of being a part time mayor for Neepawa
Bob is committed to keeping Neepawa a great place to live, work, raise a family and to retire
NeepawaVotes.com will be posting your questions and the candidates responses throughout the election. Do your part to make an informed choice and submit your question above! Here are Bob's answers to your questions:
Question: What is your plan on fixing the infrastructure problem that has been ongoing in Neepawa. There continues to be development to the west (which is good for the town) ie: Personal Care Home/Ambulance Garage/Aspenlea/10 unit housing block/residential housing/McGlaughlin GM,Westward Ford,Bayhill,Piston Ring,Subway,Tim Hortons to name a few yet the old infratruture has not been updated to handle the increased use. There has been alot of issues with residence on this issue but never been addressed by previous or current council, if elected what would your decision be to resolve this?
Answer: Thanks for the question.
Previous councils have been addressing the the issue of renewing
water and sewer lines. The area mentioned had a direct line from
the water tower installed to service the west end of Neepawa as
well as providing for renewal of the water line to the airport which
is town owned property. The Town entered into a funding agreement
with Manitoba Water Services Board for this renewal as well as an
agreement to supply an amount of water to the RM of Langford for
which the RM of Langford pays quarterly for water used. The Town
has been renewing water and sewer lines within the town over the
past number of years. The previous council developed a long term
plan to renew water and sewer lines in the town utilizing funds
from the water/sewer utility and from Gas Tax funds receievd from
the province. I beleive that council needs to continue to renew
the lines along with the street restoration. It is a slow process
for renewal with limited funds. Unlesss senior levels of government
decide to provide larger amounts of tax dollars to municipalities,
the tax payers of Neepawa cannot afford a faster renewal without
a increase in taxes and or water rate increases to cover the
cost of renewals. As mayor, I would continue to make this a priority
but the town also faces other challenges in funding other major
Question: What are you plans for development of
the CN Property?
Answer: My vision for the CN property
once the town owns it is:
1. there needs to be a property swap with a property owner at the
south end to square both his and the CN property from the survey
plan of the property that I have seen.
2. discussion with property owners at the south end who have expressed
an interest in expanding their businesses but cannot unless they
are able to purchase some property
3 discussion with the museum on what they would like to aquire for
4. identify the areas that need re mediation and what will be required
5. discussion within council of a plan for firehall, recreation,
housing, highway commercial area along Highway 5
6. take the preliminary plan to the commnuity for further input
and changes before any final decision is made as this will be one
of the more important decisions made by council and the community
for the long term development of our community
7 Implement the plan with appropriate zoning changes and subdivision
into lots for development
Question: What do you think the future holds for
Lake Irwin - development? Sustainable fishery? What direction would
you lead council toward?
Answer: The Town and RM of Langford
are joint owners of a strip of property along the west side of the
lake. Originally a seasonal campground and cottage development was
initiated and the lots were leased long term. Several years ago
the owners agreed to sell the lots to the cottage owners as there
was a desire to build permanent homes. The balance of the property,
which is the old campground at the southend is still jointly owned
but there has been no further development. As mayor I am prepared
to ask council to consider discussions with RM of Langford on the
topic of joint property development and other issues surrounding
Lake Irwin such as sustainable fisheries and tourism. All of this
property is in the RM of Langford, thus all property taxes and services
to the property are RM of Langford responsibility.
Question: Parks Canada has indicated it may be willing
to allow the re-opening of Mount Agassiz. Is this good news for
Neepawa and is there a role you think council should play in making
sure this past tourism attraction is once again vibrant?
Answer: The news that Parks Canada
is willing to look at re-opening of Mount Aggassiz is great news
for Neepawa! The reason is that more traffic will flow through Neepawa
to the resort. The Neepawa Council's role should be one of encouragement
of Parks Canada to allow re development of Mount Agassiz. As former
mayor, on behalf of council, I was at several meetings in the past
where there was discussions on the re- development and happy to
see that these meetings are now bearing fruit Re-opening also offers
more recreational opportunities for Neepawa residents closer to
home. Greater news would be if Mount Agassiz can become a year round
tourist destination. Having Mount Agassiz open year round will offer
more jobs in the area. The resulting economic spinoffs will be of
benefit to Neepawa and the whole area. I would also remind citizens
to come out to the Parks Canada meeting on Tues Jan 31 at 7:00 pm
at the Viscount Cultural Centre. This is an opportunity to hear
first hand what Parks Canada is planning for the Mount Agassiz area.
Your support at the meeting will assist in Parks Canada final decisons
for recreation on the eastern slope of Riding Mountain
Question: What is your position on the recent vote
by Council to discontinue the discount structure for early payment
of property taxes in the Town of Neepawa?
Answer: In answer to my position
on Council's decison to discontinue the tax discount for early payment
of property taxes is that the elected council by majority vote made
the decison for the 2012 tax year. This is an annual bylaw and will
come forward again for discusion this fall to make the decison for
2013. As mayor I would make a recommendation for a tax discount
based on information as to the benefit to the overall budget for
the town. The mayor as any councilor has one vote. I would ask that
the citizens who raised this question contact all of their elected
councilors to express theri concern. I have had 4 citizens ask me
the same question. My verbal response has been that the decison
has been made and perhaps a different decison may be made for next
year recognizing that the same majority of councilors will be making
Question: Would you promote a new hospital at Neepawa
or at Franklin?
Answer: Regarding a new hospital,
the decison has been made from the input of the communities and
municipalities for a regional hospital which was accepted by the
ARHA and proposed to the Provincial Goverment. We need a new hospital
as the Neepawa hospital was renovated in 1985 to extend its life
by 20 years.The final location will be determined by the Provincial
Goverment as they will be providing the majority of the funding.
My understanding that this decison will be forthcoming. I am in
favour of a regional hospital for us and for the Province to create
regional hospitals throughout Rural Manitoba to serve our health
needs now and into the future.
Question: How do you feel about the possibility of a non-resident being elected Mayor?
Answer: Question re mayor not residing in the community. The legislation currently
says that to run as a candidate a person must either reside in the
municipality or own property in the municipality for at least 6 months; at
least 18 years of age and Canadian citizen. This is not the first mayor
election in Neepawa where a candidate resided outside the town but owned
property in the town. To my knowledge voters have not elected a candidate to
council who did not live within the town.
Question: If elected would you release the legal bill incumbered by the town from denying the Access to Information requests as reported in the Press?
Answer: Another interesting question.
When I am elected there will be several
files/issues that I will discuss with council and staff to be brought
date on the activities of council during this term. The Access to
Information requests will be one. I, as mayor or any councilor can
release information or make decisions without a resolution of council
passed by a majority vote. I will bring this question to council.
gathering the information necessary for a decison; that council
the resolution that is being requested by this question.
Question: If elected to council what will you do
to ensure that the town stop wasting money on bad decisions? For
example a past council allowed a two inch water line to be installed
instead of the larger one. But there weren't any apparent repercussions
except that taxpayers will pay to fix the problem at some point.
Answer: As a member of council
I will vote in the best interests of the community on all resolutions.
My decision would be based on the information and discussion by
Question: How do all candidates feel about town subsidy to the Neepawa Golf and Country Club when their financials showed a profit?
Answer: I cannot answer that question as I do not have the information as to what
the subsidy if any is being provided to the Golf club. In my opinion the
commnuity should not be subsidizing the golf club if it is making a profit.
There is a case for subsidy if sustaining a loss as part of the recreation
of the community.
Question: Question as to what the candidates feel should be happening in regards to
the Eastview lodge location in Neepawa.
Answer: The Eastview Lodge came up again tonight in the mayors forum
My answer to your question on Eastview Lodge is that Mayor and council need
to continue efforts to have the Province make a decision on the future of
the building as it is deteriorating sitting vacant. The town's economic
development officer has been assisting potential developers in looking at
options. It appears to me that if the province and developers cannnot come
to an agreement on re development then the Province should have the building
demolished and negotiate for the development of multi family residences on
the property as it is already zoned for multi family. This would add to our
housing opportunities. Perhaps it could even be under the Manitoba Housing
Question: What do you feel you can bring to the council table to reduce the length of time council spends having meetings and accomplishing little. As a public tax payer I still see a in camera meeting every 2 hours before the regular 3-4 hour meeting. If elected will you tolerate this or be prepared to make changes? Or will it be like the last election that promised change but to date still remains the same agenda just in a different location.
Answer: As incoming mayor I first must meet with council to understand why their
meeting agendas are what they are. The current council is reviewing the
organizational bylaw which governs council meetings. This bylaw will not be
passed before I would be chairing so that I will be able to have my input
along with all of the councilors. Length of council meetings are dependent
on items being brought forward for discussion and resolution. The portfolio
positions being proposed will assist with council moving forward in timely
decision making. Neepawa is a very busy community and council is facing many
issues that require time in meetings to discuss and resolve. Once elected I
pledge to make council open and as transparent as possible
Question: Is any candidate going to make a bold statement, even if it might offend
some voters, to show they don't always play it safe on every issue?
Answer: (By Phone) As far as making a bold statement - I think the only bold statement is to say that I want the job to lead the council and I beleive I have the qualifications to do that - do meet with the government - and work with council to move our community forward.
Question: On the topic of safety at the Westpark trailer court... Do any candidates have plans to address the safety issues in the trailer park such as the blocked second entrance/exit, etc. We had a caller express concern about a school bus loading 21 students in the area and then being forced to back out, followed by a left hand turn onto highway 16 instead of driving through and making a turn onto highway 5. Same caller: concern about trailer fire in Selkirk - with some of the access to the court blocked what if fire trucks can't get in quickly and someone dies?
A second topic relating to trailer courts - do candidates have plans to address the fees that seem to keep increasing? Are there any concerns that soon low income earners won't be able to afford even a spot in a trailer park?
Answer: (By Phone) The thing about Westpark mobile home park is that its privatgely owned and the roads, water and sewer are all private. The only public part is the turnoff from the highway. The private property starts about 50 feet from the highway and all the rest of it is privately owned. As a town we don't have any thing we can do regarding whats going in the park itself because its private property. Previosu councils have had discussion with the owner about the undeveloped back lane going to the east but its never been opened and developed. So relating to the safety of the park its an owner issue.
Everyone is concerned about costs and we are all concerned about our taxes and the fees that are charged by the property owner reflects their costs. There is actually an agreement for the town levied fee on the mobile home owners in the park which is based on a formula that sees the fees increased based on the last years property taxes. Mobile home fees are always one year behind but it is related to the general tax increase the occurs across the community. Everyone has a concern that our lower income people be able to cover everything within their means. Everyone would like a decrease but its probably not possible in reality.
Question: Another take on the Eastview Lodge issue - is any candidate willing to
publically committ to do anything it takes, including storming into Winnipeg
and making a scene to get the building renovated, occupied or otherwise used
to save it from being torn down?
Answer: (By Phone) We as the council of the day - personally I don't beleive we can accomplish anything by demanding, you do it by negotiations. As a community we aren't negotiation from a strength - but its the government that holds the hand in making the final decision on the facility. I want to see current council to get a resoultion with the province for the facility. I think we need to keep on meeting with them and negotiating with them to get to a resolution. Most of the developers have not been able to make a case for them to develop. So I think we need the province to make the final decision on what to do. If they decide to demolish it, I'm in favour of that, and then make the land available to a developer for building multi family housing which that area is now zoned for. If the person asking the question has the resources to come forward and save the building, good. All of us wish someone would do something. But we need that person or group to come forward with the dollars to make it happen.