In the past year, since being elected to represent the residents of Niverville as one of 4 town councilors, in the 2022 Municipal elections, Meghan Beasant, wife and mother of two says she has done a lot of listening and learning.
When asked how's it been going as a member of council, Beasant smiles and says, “Oh yeah. I get asked that question so much. It's so funny.”
In August 2022 in her Steinbachonline nomination interview, she was quoted as saying “So, I'm definitely stepping very much beyond my comfort zone by doing this” and these days Beasant appears quite comfortable at the council table next to her male counterparts and answers the question, "How's it going?"
"It's really been amazing. The rest of council has been wonderfully welcoming, very respectful and making sure that I am getting the opportunity each week to speak, and I very much appreciate how much the rest of council actually wants my input. They've been very clear about that, that they want to know what I have to say about different topics.”
Beasant notes, “Come to think of it, I get asked a lot, how council is going, if I'm liking it, and honestly, I can't even say how much I am enjoying it. It's absolutely fascinating.”
Beasant says during a meeting, when there is a topic, she feels confident or strongly about, she has no problem voicing her opinion and thoughts.
“But I've also been very humbled a lot of times, I’m learning much thought and discussion is being put into all the little details going on within Niverville, and coming in having been just a resident to now a council member, I really very quickly gained a large appreciation for the work that all these counselors have been doing. The mental load that they all take on and their attention to detail, really is quite mind boggling.”
Beasant says she has gained a greater understanding of the workings of a town council, and that there’s more to a councilor’s job than just the twice-a-month public meetings.
“Those meetings are kind of the culmination of the other meetings that we have on the other two Tuesdays, when Council gets together in our conference room at town hall, and that's when we really speak in detail about all of the things that need to be decided upon. So, there's a lot that goes on, not only within those meetings. I have also noticed how much extra work all of the counselors, and Myron (Mayor Dyck) do that even I'm unaware of.”
Beasant refers to the fact that because each councilor has their own friend group and folks who are comfortable approaching them individually and casually, asking questions pertaining to a situation that those individuals care about, when they all come together at council meetings, she realizes that different little meetings have been taking place in the days between meetings.
“So, yeah, there's a lot of extra work that does go on behind the scenes that you just would never see unless you knew to ask about it or happened to be there personally.”
Beasant notes that though she’s been on council for only a year, there are still a lot of residents that don’t know she’s a councilor.
“But what I'm finding my role as a councilor has been most put to work in exactly the capacity I would want to be.”
Beasant says some of her favorite moments are when she gets to talk about what Town council is working on, with other Niverville residents.
"Like when I'm at the grocery store and the cashier is cashing me out and she asks me, oh, did you guys talk about this at your meeting? I say, oh, yes, we did, and I'm able to tell her what the discussion, or how the discussion went and what the outcome was, and it feels right.”
Beasant encourages residents who have concerns or questions to reach out to her, or another town councilor they feel comfortable speaking with.
“Just contact us in some way, because I think a lot of people, for some reason, have felt or feel that Council is unapproachable, not through any actions that they have made, but I think a lot of times people just see government as, you know, being unapproachable. So, when I say to them, please talk to us, we want to know what's bothering you, and we'd like to talk with you about our reasons for making a certain decision. It's been really interesting to see how happy they are to get that invitation.”
Beasant says, there is a place and a time to vent, and from the moment she took her place on council she quickly realized something.
“That I have a thicker skin than I thought. Many things don’t bother me anymore. Rather, I invite them into a conversation about the reasons why we're doing something, because usually whatever we've decided to do, it's been discussed until we're all blue in the face and we've come up with that decision for a reason.”
I believe as a council we are trying to expand the way we communicate with Niverville residents.
“We just want to make sure that people are getting the right information and the information they need.”
Looking back over the past year, Beasant says,
“I've done a lot of listening and learning this year, and I'm definitely looking forward to the next few years where I might be able to take on a few more little projects that are in my mind and start moving forward with them.”
“But,” she says, “it's been a lot to take in and a lot to learn over this past year, and I had no intention of going in like a bull in a china shop, and just, you know, getting to all these different things. Things that I would like to see get done, because there's just so many other things already going on, that you just don't even realize until you get to the inside of it (council).”
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