The numbers are in, and Flin Flon is in for four more years of...pretty much the same.
Last Wednesday, 1,161 people went to the polls to vote in a (sort of) new municipal council. That’s about 22 per cent of Flin Flon’s population, but information as to what the turnout was among eligible voters is currently unavailable. The last municipal election saw 12 per cent more voters and a 40 per cent voter turnout.
Just one new councillor, Colleen Arnold, will join five incumbents and acclaimed Mayor Cal Huntley in council chambers for the next four years.
There are benefits to having a sitting council with one or more terms of experience. They have an understanding of how government works on various levels, and they presumably have an understanding of municipal and social issues in the community. The confidence voters have in the experience each councillor brings to the table shows in the polls, as the top six contenders received 64 per cent of the ballots cast.
There are benefits of having new members of council as well. Arnold is sure to bring new ideas and fresh enthusiasm along with her years of community experience to the table, and it will be interesting to learn where that new voice will take our city.
This council will be sworn in at a time full of challenges and possibilities. The city’s population is aging, the perception of crime in the community doesn’t match the official numbers, and one of its main employers says it expects to shut down within the next three years.
At the same time, Flin Flon is making inroads through initiatives like Look North, and the area’s new tourism brand, courtesy of Travel Manitoba, an opportunity that seemingly fell out of the sky and into Flin Flon’s lap at a crucial time. The brand, which was brought to fruition through the mutual efforts of community stakeholders, Travel Manitoba and McKim Communications was unveiled in early September, and further action from the city along with other local organizations is expected to take place in the near future.
While exciting and challenging times almost certainly lay ahead for Flin Flon, and while the status quo was good enough for those who came out to the polls, the general voter turnout is frustrating.
Those who came out to cast their ballot should be commended. There’s an idea in leadership that if you focus your energy on the 10 per cent of people who are interested or positive instead of trying to make the other 90 per cent interested or positive, you can achieve great things. Here’s hoping council and the engaged part of the community have a positive and proactive four years.