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29 Nov 2011 Just where does that time go?
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So just where does time go?
It seems like just a couple of days ago that spring was here and yet so much has happened during our warmer months.   Remember spring?  It was cold and wet until mid-May when the warm really hit and it stayed that way right through  until now.  But life goes on whether it is at home, council or work life.

Home:  life is good, we are finally settling down to having no children in the home.  We can run around with or without clothes on  and have much more freedom in what we do on short notice as we make plans.

Family:  Britta is finishing up her schooling as a Stylist in Calgary. We attended her grad in October and now she just needs to finish up her apprenticeship  by January.  Her Aaron is doing well taking care of her as needed.   Brett is working the night shift at The Carillon on the printing press.  Natalie,  Brody and Madison are letting him sleep most days and spend weekends together.

Audrey:  What a grandmother she has turned out to be!  She mothers each of them the only way she knows how.  We just get so many laughs when they are  preforming at our place.  Audrey’s dad passed away in October, tough but good family time spent working through all  the different feelings and things that need doing.

Work:  Loewen to South-East Pallet in September has been a good change.  Stress is still stress but it is different.  The focus has been on  learning the business including building pallets, piling lumber, bundling firewood, desk sales and many other tasks to learn.  In one word, “fun”.

Bike:  Managed to get in 4,000 km this summer, down in km’s from other years.  The hi-lite has to be the Headwaters ride in  Park Rapids, Minnesota in September.  The commitment is to start riding indoors a month earlier in preparation for next  riding season.  Since I purchased a Garmin 705 from Shorty it will make a number of the training sessions easier to get motivated  for.

Council:  We have just finished our first year together.  Like the new council in 2006 we had to learn how to get along together with our  community interests at heart.  This council is completely different in how they view Steinbach.  The average age on council went down substantially.  I went from second youngest to second oldest  in one day.  Being appointed deputy mayor has been an honor but requires more work on my part.  I feel that more is required of me in this
role and work at making sure I am prepared for each meeting.

But life is good, Audrey stands beside me and makes sure I behave and just takes care of me.  We’ll see if we can’t put more to this column shortly.

10 May 2011 Decisions Decisions
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The last update in January I commented about how this council is working well together. That comment still holds true!
Current new council members in Susan, Earl, John are new and ask many questions that helps us all learn. Cari, while new, has council experience from the past that helps us as well.
It has been a refreshing approach to items on council agenda as we mull over the issues, then someone, usually a new council members asks a question that needs more information and debate.
Opinions matter as they represent the different people that we are in contact with in our daily lives. Do our contacts represent our thoughts and priorities?  Absolutely, but do those priorities become the standard, no. Each council member has one vote and at times the passion for a particular topic comes through but one still loses when the votes are counted.
Todate it has been enjoyable, it will be interesting as we move to early budget discussions in July at our summer study session.

18 Jan 2011 New Council Working Well Together
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It has been and interesting ride these last couple of months with the new council that has been elected.
With only Michael Zwaagstra and myself as incumbents it has been a big learning curve for the newly elected. Keeping in mind that Michael and myself have served one term each, and we both have much to learn, it is like starting over again from our first term when we had four new councillors as well.
What is clear is that each of the new councillors has a passion for Steinbach. That has been evident in the first study session and at council meetings. Everyone does there homework and comes prepared to debate the issues. Each councillor has connections in the community that are used as sounding boards in how to make a decision or feedback on how the public feels. Each of us needs to hear what we are being told, but we still need to be comfortable with our stand on different issues.
Like in my first term the biggest hurtle is the public and press are at every meeting. One needs to make sure your prepared to speak and in a way that is clear and concise, rambling on just upsets everyone and it looks like you don’t have a particular position on an issue.
I am motivated by the work completed so far, the giving of grants was a tough meeting to prepare for, and the library issue was discussed at length during the election and first month until resolved. I look forward to working with this council and all the learning we will do together.

08 Dec 2010 Library tough decision
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Last nights council meeting was interesting as we debated and agreed to build the library expansion.
Although the size will be smaller than orginally hoped for, it is a compromise that all council members agreed to. Here is the motion made along with my comments.

Motion to compromise
“Be it resolved that the City proceed in 2011 with a $1.9 million expansion of the Jake Epp Library. Funding for this expansion will come from the following: $900,000 debenture already approved, $600,000 Provincial grant, approximately $400,000 from additional City funds.

Be it further resolved that under no circumstances shall the city’s total contribution to the costs of the library expansion exceed $1.4 million.

Be it further resolved that the project maximize the possible footprint of the addition by putting emphasis on book storage, lending and open spaces.”

As indicated by the defeat of the 3rd reading we as a council need to work at a compromise to ensure expansion of the library moves forward.

The motion as made, to build a $1.9 million expansion does a number of items.
• It does not include any additional borrowing to complete the expansion; the city will only borrow the $900,000 already approved in by-law 1865 final reading April 2009.
• The grant of $600,000 is additional funds and is the only piece that is at risk due to the fact we haven’t seen the provincial requirements attached to the funding.
• The rest of the approximate $400,000 of funding will be taken out City funds, where the funds come from are yet to be determined, likely a combination of reserve and operating funds. To make this happen, some city projects will need to be moved to future years.
• The total contribution by the city would be $1.4 million made up of the $900,000 borrowed and approximately $400,000 from the City funds.

The original $2.8 million dollar price tag included costs that are no longer required under our new zoning by-laws.
• Approximately $250,000 for expanded parking lot
• The initial footprint had additional washrooms added which are high cost items
These two will save approximately $400,000 in construction costs that can be put back into the open space required

The key is that it is a compromise in a variety of ways, it reduces the borrowing needed, it provides an expansion that is desperately needed. It demonstrates that our residents have been heard during the election campaign on both of these issues.

It has been stated by everyone involved in the library expansion discussion that it is needed, it is the amount of dollars to be spent that is the issue. This motion addresses both of those issues as we reduce the dollars spent and hold the borrowing to the $900,000.

• The Jake Epp Library was originally built in 1996 with 8,000 sq ft. with plans to expand to double the size by 2003
• Expansion will take place to the west side of the library moving into the park.
• The Jake Epp library has long been the busiest library in Manitoba. Review of the last 7 years indicates that the last 5 years we have the highest circulation at 22.5 books taken out per capita versus the provincial average of 7.7.
• Approximately 76% of Steinbach residences hold a library card plus we serve a large surrounding population that pays $75 per household to belong to our library.
• Currently have over 13,000 members
• The last number of years we have not been able to add books as our shelves are full to overflowing restricting our on shelf books to max out at 65,000.
• The library program is a City program that has been effective in promoting learning and providing an opportunity to explore worlds, theories and concepts in a non threatening environment.
• The library offers services that enrich our lives, expand our vision and increase our ability to have a positive influence on the world around us.
• The library is a gathering space for our community that is open to everyone.
• For me this is an investment in our community it is one of those amenities that improves our quality of life making Steinbach a great place to live
• We can now respond that we have heard our taxpayers and made what I view as a positive compromise, we have reduced borrowing and can build an expansion
• We have all heard the different opinions and vision regarding this issue, it is time to make this decision and move the yardsticks forward with the expansion cost in this motion for $1.9 million.

29 Oct 2010 What a ride!
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The campaign this year has left me tired and in need of time off. But that will not happen anytime soon as November will be a very busy month getting new council up to speed.

Before we get to council I would like to acknowledge the citizen’s of Steinbach for the support I received during the last 4 year term, the campaign and at the polls. It truly is humbling experience.

I need to thank Audrey, my beautiful wife, friend, listener, compasionate person I get to spend my time with.

To my children Brett & Natalie who have provided those fun grandchildren in Brody and Madison, and Britta & Aaron supporting me from Calgary.

Others who made a difference where like Ron & Rhonda Friesen who kept challenging if enough was being done to get my name out there. Herb (the sign guy) Martel for putting up my signs and moving them every few days. To Ian Penner da scrutineer, Rudy Nikkel for working on this website, Matt Penner reading through my press releases, and all the contacts that encouraged me along the way.  Of course where would I be without the counselling of the MIT Cycling group who provided me with too much feedback each Saturday mornings on our rides.

I will miss Abe Hiebert and Roy Enns on this council. Both brought years of life skills, council and committee experience to meetings.

New council will be interesting. I have gone from being second youngest to second oldest on council. Michael and myself are the longest service councillors, each one term. Cari has sat on council previously, while process has changed she will fit the environment quickly.

Susan, John, Earl will have a learning curve as they will find out quickly that it is easy to make a decision when reading through material, then when faced with the faces of the public and listening to both sides they need to speak to the issue. I look forward to working with each of them.

To our Mayor, Chris Goertzen, have appreciated his candor at meetings, how meetings are run and his vision for Steinbach. In my opinion did an outstanding job in his first term as mayor.

So now the work really begins….