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Looking back on 2019

Posted: January 17, 2020

 
Looking back on 2019

 
January seems to be the month we reflect and resolve.  We reflect on the year that has passed and often make resolutions for the year ahead.  This article will reflect on the year in our rear view mirror - including some significant changes and accomplishments in East St. Paul (ESP).
 
Monthly history stories - ESP stories, written by or on behalf of local residents, were a feature in the newsletter every month.  It was wonderful to hear first hand from residents who have seen so much change in the RM; several of them have lived in ESP for more than 50 years.
 
Recruited a new Citizens on Patrol Program (COPP) Coordinator - Detlef Hindemith took over the reins as our new COPP coordinator but he is anything but new to the organization.  He is a Director with Manitoba COPP and has eight years experience as a municipal coordinator in another RM.  Since he joined the ESP COPP, Detlef has recruited 38 new volunteers.  This is an outstanding accomplishment.  Thank you to all who have stepped forward to improve the safety of our community.
 
Received $125,000 in Federal funding for Climate Change Coordinator - ESP was one of only two municipalities in Manitoba selected to receive this funding which will cover 80% of the salary of a new employee over a two-year period.  The focus of the new position is to address climate change by reducing pollution and improving energy efficiency in the operation and maintenance of public infrastructure.
 
Enhanced communication for all public hearings - In April, the RM began providing monthly communications on all upcoming public hearings dealing with planning items such as variances, conditional uses, subdivision and rezoning.  This information was always available on the Red River Planning District's website but we made it easier for residents to view the notices by sending out a reminder each month via our email distribution, Facebook, and Twitter with a link to Red River Planning District's website.
 
Pickelball at the arena - in May, after the ice was removed from the arena, the RM opened up the floor to Pickleball players.  Six courts were marked up for the free drop in play and the courts were filled with enthusiastic players of all levels.
 
Delivered a fiscally responsible budget - the 2019 tax increase was kept at a low 2.2% which for a home assessed at $436,800 was an increase of $37.54.  Over the previous four years ESP's municipal tax increase average has been 1.09%.  At the same time, the reserve fund has grown from $9.3M in 2015 to $16.4M in 2019.  This demonstrates responsible governance and good planning for large expenditures.  The RM has embarked on an upgrade to our sewage treatment plant which was originally constructed in the 1980s.  This major capital project could cost more than $20M.
 
Pond management works - our new Climate Change Coordinator began research on the health of our ponds, collecting water samples from all the RM's ponds to compile data that will provide a baseline to monitor pond conditions and help identify the pathways that nutrients enter them.  At the same time, we actively engaged in the removal of duck weed from several Pritchard Farm Property ponds and harvested bulrushes from Southlands.  The work is ongoing and will help identify improvement opportunities for application in future years.
 
Pond information sessions - Building on our ongoing pond work, the RM held two open houses for residents to provide information and update them on the current state of the ponds as well as answer questions, gather feedback, and discuss possible options and solutions with residents.  The first session on August 15 was for the areas of Eagle Creek, Southlands, Countryside and By-the-Park; 30 residents attended.  The second session on August 20 was specific to Silver Springs Park; 40 residents attended this session.  The work is ongoing and will help us identify how to better prepare for the effects of a changing climate on our ponds.
 
$255,000 in grant funding for temporary staffing positions - The RM has been awarded approximately $255,000 in grant money from 2017-2019 to hire temporary staff.  Some of these positions are providing work such as ground maintenance, summer camp assistant, gardener's assistant, office clerk, engineering assistant, climate change coordinator and assistant, and asset management.  A great deal of work goes into completing grant applications and this success is due to the efforts of our staff.
 
Communities in Bloom - In this year's judging, ESP received 4 out of 5 blooms with an improved score over 2018.  We received special recognition for the Farmers Market and Pollinator Gardens.  We would not have accomplished this without the efforts of our volunteers and sponsors.
 
Provincial election - the September provincial election brought two changes to the ESP landscape.  With the realignment of the Provincial boundaries, ESP found itself in a new riding with St. Clements - Red River North.  With this change, our MLA for the past 20 years, Ron Schuler, was not running in this newly created riding.  On election night, we had a new MLA, Jeff Wharton, but the riding remained Conservative.
 
Hosted two new events in Centennial Plaza - Thursdays in September played host to "Music in the Plaza".  The four musical evening events included artists the Four Tuned Cookies, Alex Roberecki, Edgar Desjarlais and Dane Neufeld & Corbin Friesen.  The performances were held on the Centennial Plaza stage and were free to all.  "Christmas in the Plaza" saw over 400 people attend for horse drawn wagon rides, a visit with Santa, and some hot chocolate by the fire pit.  At 4:30 p.m., the Plaza Christmas tree and the lights under "The Barn" were officially lit.
 
Co-Existing with Coyotes Information Session - Working with Manitoba Conservation, ESP hosted this session in late October and it was designed for residents to learn more about the coyotes living in our area,  Their ecology, behaviour and how to coexist with them.  Over 100 residents attended this outstanding information session.
 
RCMP Public Forum - In November, ESP Council hosted a public forum for residents to hear directly from the RCMP.  Presentations were made by RCMP officers Sgt. Tom Wallach and Inspector Rob Lasson along with ESP's COPP Coordinator Detlef Hindemith.  Over 100 people attended the forum.
 
Federal election - the October Federal election saw ESP elect a Conservative MP.  Raquel Dancho defeated the Liberal incumbent, MaryAnn Mihychuk.
 
Road reconstruction - this year, Operations oversaw the reconstruction of asphalt sections of Bracken Avenue and Esker Place as well as concrete reconstruction and catch basin modifications to sections of Eagle Creek Drive, Old Orchard Road, Briarwood Place and Jenna Cove.  The upgrading of Twin Creek Drive from gravel to asphalt was also completed.
 
Drainage works - this year's ditch liner program included sections installed on Foxgrove Avenue, the Kindersley Drive walking path, Applecross Drive, Spatuck Road, Wallace Avenue, Dorcon Drive, Pritchard Farm Road, Birchwood Crescent, and Chase Drive.  Ditch liner and drainage upgrades were also completed along Prairie Ridge Drive.
 
Raleigh Street lighting improvements - In September, 13 additional street lights were added on Raleigh Street between Applecross Drive and Thyme Road.
 
This is by no means an exhaustive list of all the RM's activities over 2019, but it does highlight most of our key projects and initiatives.  All of this was made possible by the combined efforts of our Council, staff, volunteers, provincial and federal partners and members of the community.  We look forward to 2020 and have some exciting plans in the works. 
 
Happy New Year!


 

 

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