The RM of Wallace-Woodworth has three nominees to consider on Oct. 24 - two sitting councillors, Sandy Heaman and Clayton Canart, and a former reeve, Vince Heaman.
Vince Heaman was elected as reeve in 2002 and served two terms.
He has attended the annual budget public hearing each year and says, “I’ve been watching… I’ve never lost my interest in politics.”
“My taxes went up tremendously this year, and I didn’t see any value for that. I hope I would bring accountability and responsibility to the people of this RM.”
Heaman graduated from the University of Manitoba with a BSc in Agriculture. He worked for a year before travelling for 18 months.
“I made it an overland trip to go around the globe. I went through the poor countries… I came home realizing the preciousness of water.”
In 2002, 75 per cent of Wallace ratepayers had no water or poor quality water. Hog barns in the Kola area, the oil field industry and many farms and residences, including Heaman’s, had water needs.
The effort to provide municipal water began before Heaman came to council, but he saw the project through in two terms.
Heaman farms northwest of Virden, but for 24 years he worked in sales for the Hoescht chemical company. He points to the training and skills from that career as an asset.
Heaman says he is scaling back on his farm business and can bring focus to council work.
“I understand the job. I would treat it as a full-time job.”
He has long been concerned with surface water drainage in his area and with hours of work on his part, Heaman has involved the Manitoba Ombudsman’s office in the issue, claiming in a presentation to council some months ago that he, his neighbours and even the Town of Virden could benefit from a study of the natural drainage and a return to pre-1980s drainage patterns.
After consultation with Manitoba Water Stewardship, this August the RM of Wallace-Woodworth Council voted to hire a consultant to review drainage in the watershed north and west of Virden.
Regarding the election, Heaman says he checked with the Ombudsman before taking out his papers for the reeve position.
“The ombudsman said the situation was created before… there’s no conflict, as long as we are aware of it.”
Clayton Canart got his feet wet as a councillor in Wallace-Woodworth winning a by-election in 2016, to fill a vacancy for Ward 3 when Roland Gagnon stepped down. Now he is running for reeve.
New to council, Canart hasn’t hesitated to delve into issues and ask questions.
“I really look forward to the meetings,” he says of his work on council. “Sitting at the table opened my eyes to how much more there is to the municipality.”
Canart returned from a holiday and found that Reeve Denis Carter had made his resignation public.
“After I found that, I thought about [running for reeve]. I started to have people approaching me, asking, ‘are you thinking of running?’”
Still, it was a difficult decision, knowing that if he lost, he would be off council.
Before submitting nomination papers this father of a young family (two children ages three and six) did some serious thinking, discussing it with his wife, Paula.
“I really wanted to take time and make sure it was the right thing to do. The timing seemed right with the age of my kids,” he said.
Canart has found there are several sides to most issues and other levels of government to work with.
“One of the biggest surprises is how long it takes to get things done… and how much ends up getting downloaded onto the municipalities from the provincial government.”
Stretching from the Saskatchewan border to just east of Kenton, and nearly 30 kms north to south many small communities are part of the municipality.
“You want to have somebody who cares as much, from corner to corner.”
He credits previous Reeve Carter for fair-minded leadership. “You can certainly hear the passion he has for the old Woodworth area… but he maintained the openness and passion for everywhere else.
“To hear from everybody at the table, to me that’s the most important part of the leadership role… to make sure everyone is communicating and that you’re having that discussion at the table.”
Canart worked with Sun Life Financial while he and his wife, a pharmacist, were in Saskatoon. Although he moved away from that job, he still has a keen interest in the financial service industry.
Returning to Elkhorn about nine years ago, he went to work in the family business, Canart Construction, where he continues to work.
Canart says he has his wife’s support in his run for reeve.
“She was the first one who signed my papers.”
Sandy Heaman declared her intention to run for reeve months ago, in June.
She and husband Brian farm west of Virden, but she says she’s slowing down on her farming responsibilities.
Heaman also runs the Canada Post outlet for the Hargrave community.
Her race started in June. She’s been out this summer talking with ratepayers.
After serving on council for eight years, most recently serving as deputy reeve, she says, people continue to be concerned about infrastructure.
“The expectation is that council will make sound financial decisions and will prioritize our spending; even if we toed the line on our mill rate, with assessments going up there is definitely an impact.”
She currently chairs the finance committee.
Right from her first term as a councillor for RM of Wallace, Heaman has been ever ready to weigh in on financial decisions, including the new office building, constructed under Don Neufeld’s term as reeve.
Wallace-Woodworth has many business people within the large municipality which includes villages of Kola, Elkhorn, Kenton and the circumference of Virden.
“A number of ratepayers have said to me that they realize the cost of business is going up. They appreciate that if we want to maintain things, in terms of our commitment, to infrastructure, recreation, library … all of those things, there’s going to be a financial impact.”
Numbers and finance were Heaman’s occupation for many years. She started as a teller and moved to management in a city bank.
“I loved it. I found the work very gratifying. I especially liked working with people, both clients and staff.”
While she was banking in Edmonton in the early 1980s the bottom fell out of oil and real estate.
“We were dealing with that crisis and double digit interest rates… trying to help people through their financial crisis.
“The bulk of what I did was lending, so, for me helping people realize their goals was gratifying.”