Mayor of Kipling is happy with town progress and growth

January 4, 2023, 3:26 pm
Sierra D'Souza Butts, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

From left are, Councillor Don Johnson, Councillor Colby Sproat, Councillor Tyler Vargo, Councillor Devin Draper,  Mayor Patricia Jackson, Councillor Makyla Stender and Councillor James Gallagher.

The Mayor of Kipling Pat Jackson reflects on this past year and speaks about the town’s accomplishments, its challenges and what members of the community can look forward to in the upcoming years.

What were some of the highlights for the town this year?
On the government front, we’ve tried for the last many years to take time to check our policies, to check our bylaws, to make sure they’re up to date. We have a couple new policies and bylaws this year, but we also deducted on some older ones because life changes.

Right now, underway, we’ve got a business survey that went out to our local businesses which we’re hoping to hear some feedback from, to help plan what direction they would like to see the business sector go, and how we can support them.

We also did a quality of life survey that has been completed. We’re using that for some of our planning for the town.

We got some lovely grants this year, the total was $448,442, and some of them are well worth noting.

We got an ICIP grant for Phase 2 of the arena upgrades for over $300,000. We hoped to get it working this year, but it wasn’t confirmed to us until August and our construction season was over by then. Some of that will be starting in the winter time and then as soon as the arena closes for the summer, they’ll be tackling that.

Another grant we received was $100,000 from Western Economic Diversification Canada for our downtown park. I think it’s quite lovely. The park is a partnership between the Age Friendly community and the library, with the town contributing the land among other items for the park.

Our Leisure Services programmers have been busy this year. We had the summer parks program, we had swimming lessons, art, chair yoga, forever fit, youth curling. Another one is winter walking, we have the community hall open two days a week for people to go running or to walk. We had a “Hunger is Scary” program again this year.

We had two grand openings, even though the facilities had been in use since Covid started, we couldn’t really celebrate so we had a celebration at the library and at the water treatment plant.

Kipling was recognized in the Saskatchewan Legislature, along with Kingsley and Hazelwood. We are the only one in the province. There was three of us named, Moose Jaw, Regina, and Kipling and District. We were the only one to include our neighboring RMs. That was great.

The diving board had been replaced, we put an ammonia detection system in the arena for safety. After our nasty storm in June, we had some pretty heavy repairs to do at the ball diamond. Those were completed.

What were some of the challenges the town faced this year?
I would say, and we have addressed this with the ministers in Regina, the length of time it takes for some of the grants to be awarded. Because we have such a short construction season, it’s made it difficult.

I think I can say, without a word of a lie, most communities are having some issues with staffing, with having sufficient and enough. We’re short right now. That seems to be the way of the world at the moment.

That is a challenge and it’s a challenge that our existing staff has been absolutely phenomenal about working through. I can’t say enough good things about our staff. We took over the management, the town has owned the facilities forever, but rather than having a board looking after the arena, the ball diamonds and so on, the town is now managing it.

We took it over at a very awkward time, you couldn’t have the types of meetings needed to do the planning for going forward. We have a wonderful staff, but yes we are short staff right now.

Was there anything council did not succeed in this year that you’re hoping to accomplish in 2023?
The big one really was the upgrade on the arena. What’s going to be happening is the exterior cladding is going to get some work done early.

The people who are going to do it told us they will be starting February to March, ish. Of course the weather is going to backlog the rink to an extent.

The bulk of work will be taking place over summer time with the aim of having it completed by, and open for our fall season.

Next year we are aiming to get plans in place for additional housing. Our housing market is extremely tight right now, and I think it will only become more so with the wind farm and all of the things that are developing in our whole area.

It’s a matter of getting our ducks in a row and getting the planning done. That’s a huge part of it, trying not to react, but to be proactive.

How does this year compare to last year?
We’re getting there, having five new councillors during Covid meant that it was hard for them to really get involved, and get into knowing what their jobs were, and I think this year has been a little better.

This year, they are learning about what is possible and what is not. Also, we noticed at the holiday fairs that people are just so happy to be out.

I think the whole respondency, in some cases, came out as a result of the pandemic where people are starting to ease. People are starting to get back to living life and starting to get to the point where they are saying ‘okay it’s time to start building and doing what we need to, in order to move forward.’A lot of it comes down to attitude, when people have a positive attitude it makes a world of a difference.

Five to ten years from now, what do you expect for the Town of Kipling?
I’m looking for, believe me I do not want a huge, but I’m looking for a small increase in population. I think that’s going to happen, just because of where we are situated.

I probably won’t be around to see it, but 10 years from now I’m hoping that the arena, if not completed, at least more than a glimmer of hope, that we as a community can get back to fulfilling the dreams that I know many people have for the community.

I would love to see a couple more businesses in our community because we do have a couple of holes as far as retail is concerned. But, that too may come as we have some of the larger projects coming to fruition because if you got more people, businesses tend to follow.

I’d like to see a bit of growth, but only what the infrastructure can handle.

We’re in very good shape, I don’t see anything on the horizon that would change that.