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Elkhorn museum pegged as signature for RM

The following topics stood out at the recent council meeting.
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Looking west from Hwy 21 a Kenton farm's grain bins and trees with their many straw bales in the foreground. Kenton is on the east side of the RM of Wallace-Woodworth.

The council of the RM of Wallace-Woodworth met for the regular meeting on Sept. 28, discussing a vision for the municipality’s future along with other business and reports.

Council was pleased to have two businesses, Penner Lumber in Kola and Kristina’s Hair Salon of Elkhorn, apply for the Main Street Improvement Grant. They discussed the type and location of improvements that could qualify. Chief Administrative Officer Garth Mitchell suggested, “I think in the future we ask for a sketch,” which would supply better specifics for the application.

Council voted to accept both applications.

Ducks Unlimited has put in two applications to allow them to restore wetlands. One was for SE 36-11-27W which would not hinder the road allowance. The other wetland was SE 25-11-29, within an undeveloped Right-of-Way. Of the latter, Reeve Clayton Canart indicated council should ensure this wouldn’t hinder local farm operations. “It’s best to have a conversation to make sure we’re not going to harm any machinery access.”

HWY 1 INTERSECTIONS

Council mulled over information from the Manitoba infrastructure and transportation department regarding a long-term vision for freeway status for the Trans Canada through Manitoba. Closing some intersections is part of that vision and council has requested clarity.

In discussion, Coun. Val Caldwell questioned if this was imminent or would it be 20 or 30 years distant and if so, closing access intersections now would be impractical. Coun. Kinnaird agreed saying, “We have a number of vehicles going across there in harvest… I think this is a ways off.”

Coun. Mark Humphries commented, “I would like to see what the blueprints are. I think that everybody who enters any of those roads, whether it’s Hargrave or (Hwy) 83, any of those roads that access Number One at any of the major towns ought to be aware of what the plan is.”

“Can we request to see the blueprints… to see what this freeway is going to look like in our part of the world?” said Caldwell.

CAO Mitchell stated, “It’s going to have huge impact wherever they go. The interchanges may not be where we think they’re going to be….

Mitchell spoke of the process when Highway One was upgraded to a divided highway some 15 plus years ago. “When they did the divided highway, they came to all of the councils, and they rolled out a map the length of the Elks’ Hall and showed everything they were doing. That was probably two years before they started doing that project. So, we did get good notice when they did that job. But they also had funding to help build the service roads that did the connections. They turned them over to us when it was done but at least they paid for the construction part.”

Reeve Canart advised that the municipality invite MLA Greg Nesbit to become involved to help them navigate this issue.

Xplornet will build a facility for wireless communications at Kenton. Council is satisfied with the consultation process with Xplornet.

The work continues to install Elkhorn’s new wastewater system. However, parts are backordered for the lift station until sometime in November. CAO Mitchell said, “We will be putting water into the cells since we don’t want them to freeze up without water.”

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

Tiffany Cameron, serving on a contract basis, works to provide economic development for the RM of Wallace-Woodworth. She reported ongoing progress, also fielding ideas to promote the region and to provide potential business interests with information.

Cameron updates the economic development portion of the municipal website. “That’s important to me that its always looking fresh and we have the most up to date information there.”

Some months ago, Wallace-Woodworth residents were invited to a community engagement discussion on ways to enhance and promote the area. Much of it was online.

Cameron said, “I wanted to review this engagement document. I wonder at what point the council wants to take discussions on.” Canart said he’s looking forward to discussion with the community. “I think getting in-person dialogue we will get more information.”

One topic common to the communities within Wallace-Woodworth was the need for housing of every kind: “More options for people at different points in their life,” said Cameron, “Making sure they can live their whole life in the community.”

Cameron cited the Elkhorn Antique Auto Museum as key in branding and promoting Elkhorn. She said, “We’ve had our photographer/videographer out in the region most of the summer. We need to sit down with him and do some scripting and make some good videos. We want to get some of our banners, promotional material we can use for trade shows and marketing ideas.”

Another project that will highlight the area is the Virtual Oil Museum created many years ago in conjunction with the Petroleum Branch in Virden. “So, everything is currently at the University of Manitoba, being archived to put into a website to create a story and the history of the oil in our area.”

Working along with the Dennis County Partnership and EDM for Virden, Liza Parks, Cameron said they are becoming adept at presenting the assets of the region to businesses or industries that are shopping for a location. But she says there’s room to improve. “We have had some inquiries come along. Everyone’s different, with a new challenge we haven’t even thought about. That moves me into taking what we have learned about investment attraction and improving our process.”

Cameron also hopes to create a bus tour to Cromer for other economic development groups. “We need to tell the story to other economic development organizations… of how important oil industry is to our region.” She says that people outside the area don’t seem to know the area’s oil industry exists. “So, we’re just going to try to create a tour in a bus, go out to Cromer and back and try and get some local industry experts to go on the bus with us and explain what’s there.”

Coun. Caldwell spoke about needs of new residents. “Something I’ve been thinking about for a long time is a welcome wagon idea.” She pointed out that people new to a community don’t know what’s available. “It might be a nice idea to do a welcome wagon tied to the coupon book (tourism coupon booklet) to say, ‘these are the businesses we have’.”

Cameron agreed saying that she discussed it at Kola, adding, “In Elkhorn they were already starting to bring that back. Kenton hadn’t done it.”

As Cameron’s presentation drew to a close the reeve returned to the idea of using the Elkhorn auto museum as a means to promote not just Elkhorn but the entire municipality, an idea that he pointed out has been on the backburner for some time. Canart said, “It’s right on Number One Hwy., the last place you see when you leave, the first place when you come in. It’s a high traffic area that we can use to the betterment of the municipality, so I think it would be nice to get some direction on that. I think that with your help and involvement, that needs to be a big part of what we work on.”