Council hears from new RCMP Sergeant

At this week’s virtual meeting, Virden Town Council heard from Sgt. Scott Fefchak, who presented his first monthly RCMP Report since transferring from the Moosomin Detachment at the beginning of September. He has taken over from Staff Sgt. Colby Argue until a replacement is named, which he does not expect to happen until 2021. 

Efforts to fulfill municipal policing priorities, including visibility in the community, traffic enforcement and crime reduction, are continuing. “We’re doing curfew checks on people that need to be checked on and making sure our prolific offenders are managed as best we can,” Fefchak said. With the return of classes earlier this month, visits and patrols of school zones are now underway as well.   

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Fefchak reported that the local force is short one regular member and another is being transferred in the near future. He was not optimistic about returning to a full complement of officers, at least not in the short-term. “With the staffing levels there isn’t much help on the way anytime soon,” he said. “They’ve had depot (in Regina) shut down because of COVID. They haven’t been processing applicants. They haven’t been doing background checks and security checks, so right now the people we have are the people we have.”

Mayor Murray Wright said that he has given thought to augmenting the number of RCMP officers assigned to the Town, considering the changes in society. Fefchak was receptive, but thought that based on today’s reality, it would be tough to commit to. “We could make 40 positions right now for the entire area, but where are they going to come from?” he asked. “We’ve got more people retiring than jumping on board.”  He pointed to lack of interest in the force as a career and pay that has fallen behind in comparison with other law enforcement agencies as reasons behind the dearth of new recruits. “Not a lot of people want to be police officers,” he said. “That’s great you’re interested in more. I wish we had more to sell you.”  

Coun. Karel Munchinsky took issue with school-age children riding their bicycles on the sidewalks in the downtown area and frequently darting out into traffic without paying attention. Deputy Mayor Tina Williams noted that students are also congregating near Scallion Creek, which will become even more of a concern when the weather turns colder and ice begins to form. “The creek is a very popular place,” Williams said. “Right now, there’s groups of kids with fishing poles…they’re catching frogs, they’re very excited, but I worry a little bit about the warnings to stay off the creek (being heeded).”  She asked that police make mention of this when presenting at the schools. “There’s a whole bunch of things we can talk about, depending on what grade we’re looking at,” Fefchak said.


Council received as information a survey from the Liquor, Gaming and Cannabis Authority of Manitoba. The crown entity is consulting with stakeholders regarding options for the licensing of consumption spaces for edible and ingestible cannabis products.   


During the committee reports, Chief Administrative Officer Rhonda Stewart advised that the Westman Nursing Home and Sherwood in Virden were each slated to receive a temporary personal care home visitation shelter. The shelters have been commissioned by the provincial government to permit residents to visit their loved ones during the COVID-19 pandemic.    


Council received a letter of appreciation from Arts Mosaic expressing gratitude for the Town’s support of the Manitoba 150 Mural Project. “The mural is a vibrant celebration of the impact that Virden has made on the Province of Manitoba,” read the letter from Administrator Christa Milne. “The history and culture of Virden is on display for many to see and for many years to come.” The mural is located on the side wall of the Gopher Creek Coffee Company building on Nelson Street and is now complete. 


Deputy Mayor Tina Williams served notice that she would be bringing forward a motion at Council’s next meeting to change the date of the tax sale, which was set for March of 2021.    


Council authorized Parks and Recreation Manager Tracy Howard to work with Tundra Oil & Gas Place user groups to accommodate their monthly meetings in the facility without charge, subject to room availability.    


Earlier this fall, Council passed a resolution highly recommending the wearing of masks in Town-owned facilities. Chief Administrative Officer Rhonda Stewart emphasized that the recommendation still stands, even though the practice is not currently mandated by the province.  She looked to Council to lead by example and said, “I think they (Town staff) would like if people did start wearing them more when they’re interacting, especially closely, and when there is going to be bigger crowds, especially in the rec facility.”

“The second wave (of COVID-19) is probably going to hit us later rather than sooner, I hope,” said Mayor Murray Wright. “I would suggest that for your own health and the health of everybody around you that you keep those masks on, even in some places (where) you don’t have to. I’d sooner talk with you, than about you.”

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