Two people are running for the leadership role on council for the Rural Municipality of La Broquerie.
Current Reeve Lewis Weiss is running against current Deputy Reeve Ivan Normandeau in the October 26th election.
As we near the end of the election campaign, we asked both Weiss and Normandeau a series of questions ranging from flooding and road conditions to taxes and leadership.
Here is the list of questions with the response from each candidate:
You've identified that flooding and drainage are some problems that need to be dealt with in the areas of the municipality. If elected, how will you tackle those issues?
Normandeau: I think the first step would be to reach out to the Seine River Basin, just to find out what we can do to have some retention ponds that could help minimize the flooding. Meaning that we can kind of control the flooding going where, you know like, north and south, east and west. So, we'd be reaching out to our partners to make sure that there's a plan in place, that we can tackle these problems basically.
Weiss: Well, obviously if it's a water retention issue, then we would do a joint venture with the Seine Rat Conservation District and that can include surrounding municipalities as well, as far as cost goes, because if it's a benefit to your neighbor, then very often we do a joint venture there. So, that's always a better financial decision. And drainage along the municipal roadways that is just overdue drainage, like overdue cleanup like cleaning of drains. Sometimes there's culverts that are partially plugged and flow issues like that, sometimes there's a bit of a hump in the road. I know one family mentioned some machinery had gone in the ditch and they damaged the bottom of the ditch so now the water only flows when it's 3/4 full and a lot a lot of issues like that. A lot of it's just maintenance, you know cleaning, there's overgrown Willow trees in the ditch and general cleanup.
The poor conditions of some roads is another issue that you've raised. What are some of the most concerning roads and how will you go about making improvements?
Normandeau: Well, there's a couple of roads that need for sure improvements. And the only way we can do those would be to target those specific roads and have proper maintenance of that road, being adding more gravel. But my biggest thing would be to have a five-year plan to identify which roads we want to focus on in the next five years so that we're not always reactive. We've got to be proactive so we know which roads that we can fix and how we can fix them. So, that would be the first thing. We’ll try to get a five-year plan in place so that would be the first way to target these roads so that once we know which roads, we identify every year.
Weiss: Well, if it's black soil coming out of the road then those roads, obviously an engineer possibly does some testing. They drill test holes and then we decide how deep we have to go and figure out a bit of a cost. And sometimes you can't do an entire mile or a whole 3 miles; let's say you can maybe only do one or half a mile, depending on the cost. But if we do a little bit at a time, eventually we'll have a really good road network.
You've spoken about keeping taxes as low as possible. How do you think that can be accomplished while still investing in roads, drainage, and recreation, especially with the rate of inflation and every project costing more than it has in the past?
Normandeau: Yeah, that's always the juggling act, right? You have to cut somewhere to increase spending in other areas. But the beautiful part about La Broquerie and the whole R.M. is the fact that development keeps on coming. So, the more development we have there our tax base always increases, right? So, every year when we have the reassessment, our tax base usually increases and then if your tax base increases, then you're dealing with a bigger budget. So, it’s not always about cutting, sometimes just reallocation, right, because of the increase in taxes. But obviously, yes, with the increase of inflation and every project costing more money, I think it will just have to be a very good due diligence and make sure that that we dot our ‘i’s and cross our ‘t’s to make sure that our money is spent according, our money is spent away the taxpayers want it spent.
Weiss: Well, it's very important when you do large projects that cost in the millions, that you do the project on side with a grant. Like I think I heard numbers for Steinbach’s arena, something like they're possibly getting around $8 million, maybe I'm not 100% on the numbers. It's very important, those are the times you proceed. If there's a grant available for the project, that would be the time you would do that kind of a project. I know in the past, we improved our lagoon and there was federal and provincial money available. That is the time to do those projects. That's how you can save local taxpayers money and accomplish things that need to be done.
And the last question, what do you feel is most important when it comes to being a leader, particularly for a municipality?
Normandeau: Well, I think to be a great leader, and which I believe I am, is to have good communication with our staff, meaning all our administration and public works, all those people. And also have good communication with our rate payers and have good communication with surrounding municipalities, because we have to remember that a lot of our borders, we share borders with many different municipalities. And I think the first thing is, have great communication, so that people know what's going on and that people know what to expect.
Weiss: To have your ear open to your ratepayers or your employers, it's however you want to call it, during the four years, not just at election time. Most of the time we do know what they want, and we know the right thing to do, and we should be mindful of what they want at all times and be willing to do what the majority of them want at all times.
Click here for the full list of candidates for municipalities and school divisions in the southeast, as well as results on election night.