Editor’s note: In an effort to help city of Dauphin voters make an informed decision when choosing a new mayor this fall, the Herald provide an opportunity for candidates David Bosiak and Kerri Riehl to share their platforms, priorities and plans in their own words through a series of questions and answers.
The first question, answered here this week was “What do you see as the biggest issue facing Dauphin and how would you like to see it addressed?”
On the campaign trail I’ve asked voters the same question posed to me by the Dauphin Herald: “What is the biggest issue facing our community?” The responses I received were varied to say the least. When I thought about each and every (different) response, I realized there was a critical theme relating to each one.
All issues presented to me could be addressed by following through on a well-developed plan. The City does not currently have a fully complete strategic plan. A completed plan will allow us to tackle problems and issues transparently, proactively and move us forward together.
As you can imagine, I received a multitude of responses. There were common themes, like community safety and crime, the lack of affordable housing and the condition of Main Street (and other streets and back lanes for that matter). I was also told the biggest issue was a lack of big box retailers, a lack of development in our industrial park, and a lack of new housing sub-divisions. I also heard about our incomplete trail and bike path system, the wavering strength of our relationship with other levels of government and the lingering impacts related to the closing of the jail.
The lack of incentives and barriers to industrial and business development were common among those looking to develop property in our community. I was told more than once that Dauphin needed good paying jobs that would attract and keep young people here.
What I found was that it was hard to pinpoint the one “biggest” issue facing Dauphin. What I did conclude was that the biggest issue wasn’t a singular issue at all – but a lack of a collective vision for our future.
What this means to me is this, our community needs a clear and concise plan that identifies, quantifies and prioritizes all the “biggest” issues presented to me by the public. Our last Council developed a strategic plan in 2021. That plan identified five major goals, with the third being public engagement and awareness. However, the planning process used by the City did not actually engage the community to include their input, or provide them with any awareness of their activity, thus it is incomplete.
If elected Mayor the first step I will take is to bring Council, staff and the public together to revise and complete our strategic plan. This will be achieved by holding a community consultation meeting where Council hears and engages the public. As a new Council, prioritizing community initiatives should be our primary focus.
The current plan outlines the City’s vision, mission and mandate but it does not include specifics on how any of the objectives would be achieved. Newly elected Council members will hold their own beliefs of what should happen in the next four years, but I believe it is equally important that public input be included to validate future actions we take together as a community.
We need a completed strategic plan that clearly outlines what we want as a community and how we are going to achieve it. Elect me on Oct. 26th and I’ll make sure it happens.
The biggest issue facing Dauphin is the lack of efficient and principled municipal governance.
The City of Dauphin is an incorporated business. Municipalities are bound by laws and legislation. Under the Manitoba Municipal Act, councils are democratically accountable to the citizens they serve despite any differences of opinions, beliefs, or their socioeconomic status. All citizens are equal stakeholders in our community.
A role of council is to listen and engage with the public while considering the best interests of the entire community. Nepotism has no place on councils.
All councillors must have the opportunity to have an equal voice, and only all of council can make decisions for the municipality.
Council is the decisionmaker of policy while administration implements the policies decided upon by council. In other words, “council steers the boat and administration rows.”
Realistically, this is a system closest to the people where citizens can have the greatest impact. I believe the system and the Act to be efficient and effective. My experience, however, having served on Dauphin city council, was not as described above.
There is a historical stagnant culture of saying “this is the way things are and the way it’s always been done.” I believe this is often a justification for doing little or nothing. Those councillors who do not engage have abandoned their responsibility to advance real change. In 1986 when I went to the U of M to study Criminology, Dauphin’s population was 8,875. In 2016 the population was 8,457. In 2021 our population was 8,368. The data is quite clear. The status quo has not worked.
How would I address this?
My council experience, my term as deputy-mayor, and filling in for the mayor during his absence has given me the experience and understanding necessary to lead our city.
I have studied to become proficient in the Manitoba Municipal Act and will promote accountability, transparency, and guarantee efficient and principled politics.
I will set regular office hours at city hall ensuring accessibility to the public. Quarterly town hall meetings will be held. The citizens of Dauphin will have many opportunities to become involved in the decision making process.
Council will receive orientation training. Ongoing training opportunities will be provided to ensure competency. My expectations are that all of council will have an equal voice without exception.
Advocacy to gain funding at the provincial and federal levels will be sought at every opportunity.
My goal is to achieve effective services, financial stewardship, and use of resources.
I have a long-term vision for our community and am committed to seeing that vision become a reality as mayor of Dauphin.
I believe good governance increases Dauphin’s chances of “effectively meeting the needs of its people thereby creating conditions where all citizens can lead meaningful, prosperous and happy lives.”