Gade discusses his role as newly elected Reeve for Swan Valley West

Published on Tuesday, 08 November 2022 08:08

The wait is over and change has finally come to Swan Valley West municipality.
Voters elected their new reeve and council to represent them and they’re already at work. Newly elected Swan Valley West Reeve Bill Gade says the feedback he has been hearing from ratepayers has been nothing but positive.
“I’ve never seen ratepayers so happy to see a change in leadership,” said newly elected Swan Valley West Reeve Bill Gade. “We’ve already held two meetings already, and at the end of those meetings, every member of Council was sitting around the table laughing, chatting and talking, not about municipal business, but about what was going on in our lives and in general. That, in my mind, was step one to get a Council of seven people to actually speak and listen to each other. Council members seem happy to see each other and that’s going to be the basis of making a difference.”
There has been some concern in the past with Swan Valley West ratepayers feeling like there was no transparency or open communication with the previous council.
The newly elected council for Swan Valley West is aware of that issue and trying to provide more information to the public about what is going on.
“We’re going to do a few things,” said Gade. “At our first meeting, we chose to discuss the fire department in the public meeting. I have heard from countless numbers of people who watched that discussion, that they appreciated that we told them a little bit more about what is going on, instead of going in camera and hiding. We can’t do that for every topic, every time, but we’re going to try to discuss it more in meetings so that people see what’s going on.
“Outside of the meetings, we’re going to do a much better job of telling people what is going on. We’ve already discussed as a council a few different topics that are a high priority to the public, of getting the information together and making sure it’s accurate, and then releasing it to the public, so they can form their own opinions.”
Gade knows there are several issues on the table, that need to be dealt with, but the new council can’t address them all at once. Swan Valley West is working on putting a plan in place to deal with both the roads and water situation in Benito.
“There’s a bunch of them,” said Gade. “We’re looking at roads right now and everything to do with them. Unfortunately, it’s so late in the year that we’re not going to make an impact on that right now, but we’re going to when it comes to snow plowing and do a better job of that. It will be springtime before we can address the issues with the roads in the municipality, but we’re already talking about what kind of gravel we need and where it needs to go. We’ve got some contractors ready to get more product available so when spring comes, we’re ready to go. This is one of the main things we want to get done.
“The water quality in Benito is an ongoing discussion. It’s just as important as the roads and is being dealt with. There will be more to publicly say on that in a couple of week's time. On Oct. 1, we saw an interim order from the Public Utilities Board that is seeing the water rates in Benito triple or quadruple. That’s on our radar and we’re looking into that. We’re hoping to have information for the public on that matter in a couple of weeks and what we’re going to do about the water quality and pricing. There’s likely some resolution other than saying pay more, pay more. There’s probably something more fairly that we can do for people in Benito because we want fairness. We want everyone to pay their fair share and no one to get a free ride.”
It’s been well known about the controversy of having someone working in media and being on a municipal council, and Gade has been no stranger to this ordeal. This time around, he is taking a more active stance to try and separate the two roles.
“There’s going to be some challenges and we can all see that there will be some in terms of this,” said Gade. “We’ve hired an additional person at the station, to work as a reporter, to try and address that challenge and get me out of the day-to-day news operations. I will always be here managing the stations; that’s what I do and I own them.
“I’m trying to get out of some of the roles to prevent any conflict so that we don’t have a matter where it’s the reeve saying something. We’re going to be working very hard that when things are broadcast, it’s the radio station, and if the Reeve has something to say, it’s the Reeve who says it. On Facebook, there’s now a reeve account and if I need to say something as reeve, it will be posted on that account, so it will be clear as to who is saying it, rather than a news story from the station.”
Recently Swan Valley West has accepted the resignation of former CAO, James Webb. Gade knows it’s been a challenge in the past to fill that role, but feels with the positive changes moving forward, that the municipality will find the right and properly educated person to take on the job.
“We’ve had some discussion about this and there’s some advertising out for the CAO,” said Gade. “We’re looking for someone who has municipal experience, that understands The Municipal Act, and the rules we have to operate by, so we don’t have any more expensive mistakes. It’s not a secret that we’ve had some challenges in the past filling that role, but we’ve had some interest in the position already.”

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