Selkirk mayor Larry Johannson continues to look forward to dedicated civic governance and major infrastructure projects. (Brook Jones/Selkirk Journal/Postmedia Network)
Selkirk mayor Larry Johannson couldn’t be happier with the kind of city Selkirk is transforming into as of late.
Voters in Selkirk first elected Johannson as city councillor in 2006 and then elected him as mayor in 2010 and 2014.
The city of 10,000 people has evolved over the years and continues to be a major hub for those living in the Interlake.
After at least two years in the works, council and administration completed the City of Selkirk Strategic Plan. Council approved the plan in early 2014.
“It was probably one of the most important projects and documents that we’re going to have,” he said. “It’s a road map and a guideline. We tried to set this up for the people that come behind us. We’re not going to be here forever.”
The Strategic Plan laid the road for major projects the city undertook in 2016 and will be undertaking in years to come.
“We’ve got the water line, we’ve got the wastewater treatment plan,” he said.
Johannson said there is a lot planning and foresight that goes into securing infrastructure for the future.
In 2016 Selkirk secured a secondary water source for the city by drilling wells in the RM of St. Andrews. The pipe from the water source to Selkirk will provide potable water and approximately 20 to 30% of Selkirk’s water needs at the beginning of its operation.
“I think 2016 will be remembered as a year we truly secured that future for the citizen of Selkirk for decades to come,” he said. “I was really proud of the way we included all of the share holders. We did the right thing. We contacted the council of St. Andrews and the mayor and the residents that were effect in that area. We wanted to make sure before we drilled that people were comfortable with it. We hired the right people.”
Success in the infrastructure department continued for Selkirk in 2016. Federal and provincial funding was secured for the construction of a new wastewater treatment plant. This will result in improvement to the quality of the effluent discharged into the Red River, which ultimately empties into Lake Winnipeg.
“We knew right away that we would put it right beside the existing treatment plant,” he said. “We looked at the different models. The model we chose was a little bit more pricey, but at the end of the day the water that is going to come out of the pipe - we could drink it. That’s how clean it’s going to be. Ultimately, there could be chances to use that water instead of just pumping it into the river and ultimately into the lake. Maybe we could pump it to cool steel or for car washes or for some of our high water users at a better price.”
The new treatment plant will have also have the capacity to process wastewater from the RM of St. Andrews, as well as Lower Fort Garry National Historic Site.
The city completed the Capital Asset Management Program and presented it to council along with a new Asset Register for the city. Johannson said that administration now has a inventory of every asset that the city has.
“Now we know exactly when we purchased it, we know the longevity of it, we know when we will have to replace it, we know how much money we are going to need to replace it. There are no surprises” he said. “As long as councils and administrations that come behind follow these guidelines, they’ll be fine. The city is going to be in great shape for decades to come.”
A new external auditor was brought on board in 2016. This brought a fresh look at the internal city financial processes and practices along with the city’s governing bylaws.
City in blooms
Looking back on the year that was, Johannson noted many accomplishments. Selkirk was awarded the coveted Five Blooms from Communities in Bloom.
The strategic plan sets a vision for Selkirk as a vibrant regional hub for commerce, culture and recreation. Council and administration want to provide the best opportunities an urban centre can offer.
“It’s a great future ahead.”
Johannson noted that Selkirk’s population will continue to grow, which will ultimately enhance the city’s economic growth as a result of more residents, and increase in tourism.
“We’re moving ahead. We’re not looking behind. We’re looking forward and we’re not letting our foot off the gas,” he added.