Canora 2020 election candidates speak out

The 2020 Saskatchewan municipal election is set for November 9, with Canora choosing its mayor and six councillors. All candidates have been given the opportunity to speak out on numerous topics and issues, beginning with the two candidates for mayor.

MICHAEL DAVIS

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Michael Davis is running for mayor and works at the Mosaic Potash Mine in Esterhazy.

“I chose to run for mayor because I would like to see Canora prosper with the services we have and not lose any of them,” said Davis. “We need to look at what we can do in order to continue attracting people to Canora.”

Davis said Canora has many good things going for it, including being one of the most attractive small towns in western Canada.

“I know a little about that, since my work has taken me all over the west,” he said. “We have a lot of younger families moving in and a good agricultural base, which all points to the potential for a promising future.”

Like most communities, Canora has areas with room for improvement. “We need to try to get some sort of industry here as well as attract more small business,” said Davis.

“I believe a good mayor should be honest, open and provide fair government in the best interests of the community as a whole. The mayor should be accessible to all residents and manage council in such a way that they keep to the same high standards as the mayor. I am a big believer in a code of ethics and that the rules need to be upheld,” Davis concluded.

MIKE KWAS

Mike Kwas is running for mayor and works at Viterra in Canora.

“I am running because I am invested in the future for this community,” said Kwas. “I want my children and future generations to have a great place to call home for years to come. I want to see this great community continue to move forward.”

Kwas believes Canora has a tremendous amount to offer to current residents and others possibly looking to relocate here.

“We have endless recreational opportunities, affordable housing and community organizations.  We need to keep up the current momentum of our thriving community to see that great things continue to happen.”

He believes it’s important to continuously strive to improve the overall presentation of the community.

“Currently the town is working hard to clean up Canora and I want to make sure this continues to happen,” Kwas continued. “I do not want absentee ownership of commercial properties. A clean community eliminates attraction towards an unpleasant community.”

Kwas has multiple short- and long-term goals for Canora’s future.

“If I were elected as Mayor I would firstly want to make sure that the current upcoming projects are executed immediately including: outdoor skating rink in King George Park, swimming pool/ water park, tourism projects, and ball diamond and golf course upgrades.

“I would like to help carry out the decommissioning of the Canora Landfill. I would like to see the construction of a recreation community centre vast enough to host large events, with an indoor track to accommodate seniors as well as youth. and an indoor wellness centre. This facility would provide convenience by facilitating both ice arenas.”

He said the mayor should be passionate, a team player, trustworthy, a good communicator, committed to the community and most importantly, have strong leadership skills.

 “I would be honoured to work with council members and staff to continue to make Canora a great place to live,” Kwas concluded.

EMILY DE SA

Emily De Sa is running for council and works in the automotive power sports industry in Yorkton. She believes she has much to offer the community.

“I am trained in politics with some legal background as well,” said De Sa. “I want to be more active in the community I’ve chosen to live in since moving to Canora and I also enjoy politics and the detail-oriented work featured in governance.”

Since moving to Canora, De Sa said she has appreciated the friendliness of the community.

“I grew up in Warman, which had a similar environment but has since gained a much more keep-to-yourself feel,” she said. “Once I moved here, I have been getting waved at all the time by people I don’t know. I can say there are not very many places out there that can say they are as welcoming as Canora has proven to be.”

De Sa said she would like to see a wider array of businesses attracted to Canora and also promoted within the community.

“By helping grow business job opportunities in town, it can help the town grow by drawing more people to want to live and work here. If elected, one of my main priorities would be to advocate to get Highway No. 9 going through Canora repaired and repaved. The heavy potholes and cracks cause damage to town people’s vehicles, and cause the town to be perceived as not being looked after well.

“Another priority that I’d like to work towards, pending the COVID-19 pandemic, would be to have some more wider-reaching events hosted in Canora so we bring some positive publicity to the town and possibly drum up more people traveling to Canora and supporting the local businesses.”

She would like to work towards cleaning up the vacant buildings throughout the town, both commercial and residential.

“When people want to start up businesses or move to a new place, they usually don’t want to start in rundown buildings. Cleaning up some of the damaged infrastructure should help draw more interest in the town as a business centre.”

De Sa believes an ideal candidate for town council should be honest, hard-working and posses strong and steady leadership skills.

“They’d be trustworthy, reliable and able to complete their work efficiently. Through my university study and following college study I have an in-depth understanding to government processes and how they function. This would help aide me with the decisions being brought forth to the council,” De Sa concluded.

CANDACE DOOGAN

Candace Doogan is running for council and owns a business in Canora.

“I am very passionate about Canora. I have a huge sense of pride knowing that my ancestors and extended family and friends helped to build the community as it is today,” said Doogan. “I want to build a strong and stable future. We are very fortunate to live in this community where we are embraced by caring, supportive individuals.”

Doogan believes one of Canora’s biggest advantages is the wide array of community groups and organizations.

“I have been very passionate with many different organizations including Canora Minor Hockey, Canora Fire Dept, Canora Veselka Dance, Canora Tourism Board, and more. Especially during these uncertain times, they say it takes a village to raise a child. I believe Canora is a good example of that.” 

Doogan said she feels it is important to have diverse representation on Town Council.

 “I chose to run for Council because I care about our children, our seniors, our families, our organizations, and our businesses. I want to be sure there is a short-term and a long-term plan. I want to help improve the wait times for repairs, renovations, contracts, and address our lack of infrastructure and industry. Other important issues include waste management, tourism and recreation.”

Doogan said town council should be transparent and have good communication with residents.

“I know there have been some issues that led to some unfavorable reactions by some residents. I want to be sure that Council is aware of the truths and will consider listening to everyone’s concerns.”

She said Canora has potential for growth in a variety of areas.

“I would like to see more development in the business sector, turning our abandoned buildings into life and seeing homes with “for sale” signs being bought by potential opportunists. I would love to see new homes being built here instead of losing taxpayers to other municipalities. I believe there is enough interest from hockey teams, ball teams, school teams, crew workers, and visitors to warrant the idea of hotel/motel expansions. An indoor pool to accommodate year-round usage would also attract many more to our community. We wouldn't need to go to Yorkton to host a child's birthday party. We need a permanent Event Centre that would host weddings, dances, recitals, rental options, indoor dryland training opportunities and be available for crowds over 400 people.”

Doogan said a council member should work hard and be a reliable and responsible contributor.

“I would treat the finances as I would my own, meaning, I don't like to waste, yet I will find enough to improve and upgrade as required. I know there's a time to save money as well. I believe in looking at the future and how our decisions today affect tomorrow. I am eager to learn and I am open-minded.  I want to give people something to look forward to and keep things exciting,” Doogan concluded.

JACQUELINE FETCHUK

Jacqueline Fetchuk is running for council and owns a business in Canora.

“I chose to run for town council to be more valuable within the community and decision making, with an open ear to what the concerns of our citizens are,” said Fetchuk. “I would bring fresh ideas and concerns to the table without prejudice or judgement. Everyone deserves to be heard.”

She said Canora has numerous elements to be proud of.

“The best part about our community is our central location among smaller towns, villages and hamlets,” she observed. “Our business sector is growing, offering different merchandise, food and services to our surrounding area.”

If elected, Fetchuk would like to emphasize future growth and development of the town.

“I want a town council that makes decisions openly, fairly and honestly with the opinions of our community’s citizens taken into consideration. Transparency is very important to have the trust of our community members.

“My first priority would be to check into the idea of an indoor swimming pool, the state of our skating arena and what it would take for our town to have a fitness complex built. An indoor pool would not only provide year-round activity for all ages of our community, but for the surrounding areas also. If the skating arena is in a state of needing repairs or reconstruction, what are the possibilities of having a fitness/recreation complex built rather than two buildings used for only a few months of the year each? This could end up being a huge asset to our community if pursued properly,” continued Fetchuk.

“If elected to council I want to be part of a team that leads by example with honesty, dedication and the willingness to work hard. I don’t believe in bullying on any level or making decisions based on personal likes or dislikes. I will stand up for fairness and equality for both our community and our residents.”

Fetchuk believes a town councillor should be willing to listen to community residents and carry the message to the council table for further discussion.

“They should be dedicated to the task at hand with the best interest of our community and our citizens in mind. They should be willing to do volunteer work for our community and for special events,” she concluded.

BRAD GABORA

Incumbent Brad Gabora is running for council and is employed seasonally at the Canora Golf and Country Club.

“I chose to run again because Canora has always been and will continue to be my home, so I want to be involved in our community moving forward in all aspects to continue to make Canora a great place to live,” said Gabora. “As we know there are always unforeseen roadblocks, such as COVID-19, along with issues and tough decisions to make which sidetrack or change plans and aspirations but we all need to work together, make adjustments and push forward to help the community grow.”

He believes one of the best things about Canora is the small town, close-knit feeling.

“I believe we have friendly people, a business district that is growing and a great attitude,” Gabora observed. “We have good facilities, including a swimming pool, curling rink, skating rink, splash park, golf course, ball diamonds and a race track to name a few. We can always use upgrades, changes, additions and in some cases replacement of our facilities but for the most part I like where we are and our plans moving forward.”

Gabora said his previous experience on council has taught him that improving Canora is a constant struggle; finding ways to move forward while working around roadblocks. This brings up a variety of questions.

“Do we need it? Can we afford it? Where can we find the money? Are there grants available? Will the community rally around our decision?” asked Gabora. “There are probably a few improvements on my list but bringing in some type of industry would be a great start. This would improve stability in the community, hopefully create new jobs and possibly bring some new families to Canora.”

Moving forward, he feels council needs to continue to be mindful of Canora’s current infrastructure situation and the need for upgrades or improvements.

“We need to be diligent and keep monitoring the COVID-19 situation to help the community get through these uncertain times,” Gabora continued. “A long-term priority would be to continue the improvements or replacement of our recreational facilities that have become issues or money pits.”

He believes a council candidate should be approachable, friendly, open minded, have an honest hard working concern for the community and not have any interests in personal agendas, as well as showing community support.

“During my years in Canora I have participated, volunteered in and been elected to numerous sports groups, organizations and community groups which helped me get a better outlook on the community and its needs. I enjoy being involved in community events.  I feel my concern and genuine interest in my community will make me a good councillor. If elected I will work towards the best interests of the community and it’s residents, listen to their needs and concerns and try to be fair but stern in all decisions,” Gabora concluded.

DENISE LESLIE

Denise Leslie is running for council and owns a business in Canora with her husband.

“We want to eventually retire here,” said Leslie. “I am at a time in my life where I want to give back to the community. I want to see Canora grow and be economically viable.”

She said Canora has the advantage of providing most of the amenities of living in a city, but with a small-town atmosphere.

“It is a safe, attractive, and friendly community in which to raise a family or to retire.”

Leslie said one of her biggest priorities is to improve Canora’s infrastructure.

“But because I have not sat on town council yet, I do not know where the town is financially.  Most improvements have financial implications. I am willing to build a relationship with the community and the council members,” she continued.

“Other priorities include health care and recreation for all ages, both facilities and programs. We need to attract more small business to the community. We also need to move forward with economic development and ensure that Canora continues to be a safe and affordable place to raise a family and retire.”

If elected as a representative for the people of Canora, Leslie said she would consult with residents regarding spending.

“An ideal council candidate should possess the qualities of honesty, integrity, an outgoing personality and hard work, as well as the ability to work cooperatively with other members of council towards a common goal. Owning a business has taught me how to spend wisely, and to work hard. Through the years, I have also been involved as a volunteer in different organizations and service groups.”

“I am entering this race to listen to the people and be their voice on town council.  I hope to bring good teamwork and leadership to the table. I want to be part of a positive council to help build a strong community. I am proud to be from Canora,” Leslie concluded.

GLEN LESON

Glen Leson is running for council, and is a retired funeral director and former Canora mayor.

Leson said he has always been committed to the community and believes he still has something to offer.

“I have been a member of the chamber of commerce and the rescue unit and have worked as the EMO (Emergency Measures Organization) co-ordinator,” he said. “I have served on provincial boards and our family has long been involved in volunteer community organizations.”

Leson said Canora is a nice town with plenty of potential for growth.

“We have good water, good recreation facilities, great access to outdoor activities and we are a safe community.”

He feels Canora needs to return to a better street maintenance program, as was the case in the past.

“The cemetery needs major repairs,” he added. “We need to move toward getting assisted living in town. There is a shortfall between seniors living at home and the nursing home, and we’re losing people. Assisted living creates jobs and allows people to remain in their homes, instead of moving to Yorkton or even further. We also need a co-ordinated shuttle service within our region including communities such as Preeceville, Sturgis, Norquay and Kamsack for trips to Yorkton, Saskatoon and Regina for appointments.”

Leson said common sense and life experience are important qualities for a productive town council candidate.

“I was born and raised in Canora and operated a business for 46 years. I raised a family here. I saw water main and sewers expansion in the 1950s and the first pavement in town in the 60s. An effective leader believes in teamwork, and is willing to get in the trenches and work side-by-side with other individuals,” concluded Leson.

BRENT PELECHATY

Incumbent Brent Pelechaty is running for council and works at Nutrien Ag Solutions.

“I have lived in our great town we call home for over 50 years,” said Pelechaty. “I am running for town council again because I want to continue working on projects that we are working on, as well as initiate other projects which our taxpayers want done for our town. I want to continue working with our great people we have living here.”

He said Canora offers a great environment in which to raise a family or retire, and is an affordable place to live.

“We have great people living in our community and if we all work together we can make our town even a better place to call home.”

Pelechaty believes Canora has room to make significant improvements.

“I would like to see our community have more activities for our youth, families and seniors to be involved in,” he continued. “I want to fix our roads around town, and have everyone in town treated equal and fair. I would like to see more people and businesses working together on issues which we may have in town with more input and advice from our taxpayers. We as town councillors are here to listen and want to work with everyone and every business in our community.”

A major priority for Pelechaty is to sell lots at the new golf course subdivision.

“We need to get some houses built out there so the town can start getting back some tax revenue from it. Its been way too long with nothing built out there. We have to lower the price of the lots to get some interest out there.

“Many town taxpayers have been telling me we to re-evaluate the work of the commissionaire in Canora.”

Looking further into the future, Pelechaty emphasizes the importance of maintaining a viable hospital with a full staff of doctors.

“Without a hospital we will not have people retiring and moving to Canora,” he insists. “Another priority of mine is lowering taxes in our community. I have had so many people come up to me in the past four years asking why taxes are so high in our town. I know there are ways we can accomplish this.”

Pelechaty said an ideal candidate for council must be approachable, open minded, a team player and willing to listen, while not being afraid to bring up concerns to council.

“That person should vote for issues that are best for the taxpayers not because everyone else is voting in favour of it. I have been a councilor for our community for four years and have enjoyed every minute of it. I want to be the voice of our youth, seniors and small businesses in our town,” Pelechaty concluded.

ERIC SWEENEY

Incumbent Eric Sweeney is running for council and works at the Louis Dreyfus canola crushing plant in Yorkton.

“I have been active in our community as a member of the Canora and District Fire Department since 2013 and a volunteer first responder with the Saskatchewan Health Authority since 2018,” said Sweeney. “I have chosen to run for another council term because there are numerous projects that the current council has initiated and I would like to see them through to completion.  That includes the decommissioning of the current Landfill (and subsequent development of a Transfer Station) and the replacement of the swimming pool.”

In the past he has enjoyed being involved in community projects such as the splash park, the soccer team, or “just being a good neighbour.” 

He said Canora is one of the best communities to call home.

“Unlike many larger centers and some smaller communities there really isn’t a ‘bad side of town.’ We are blessed with some terrific community infrastructure such as our renowned high quality water,” he continued. “Our recreation and leisure facilities are among our greatest assets and draw visitors and residents year round. The small-town feeling is certainly a factor that caused my family to choose to live here. I take pride in telling people that I am a resident of Canora.”

Sweeney said he would like to see improvement to the condition of Canora’s public facilities.

“If elected, a priority would be to create a sustainable long-term plan for the upgrading of our sports and leisure facilities without creating an excessive and unmanageable financial burden for taxpayers.”

He believes an ideal candidate for council needs to be capable of expressing his or her opinion and at the same time be open to the opinions and ideas of others.

“They should also have the ability to productively engage in discussions while debating issues.  They should have a desire to find information required in order to make informed decisions on topics and issues that will affect all members of the community. This sometimes means that decisions they help make may not be in their own personal best interest. At the end of the day council members are there to represent the community as a whole.”

“During my time in different communities I have seen that no two, even if similar in size, have the same approach when it comes to the administration and operations of the community.  I realize that Canora is unique and as such requires unique solutions that are considerate to the needs, wants, and desires of all residents. 

“If given the opportunity to serve the Town of Canora for another term I would be the type of leader that would take the responsibility seriously and conduct myself in an ethical and responsible manner and understand that no matter what an individual’s cultural or economic background, their ideas and opinions have value,” Sweeney concluded.

MATT THOMPSON

Matt Thompson is running for council and is employed at Forbes Bros.

“I have chosen to run for counselor for one simple reason, I want my voice and opinions to make a difference for the community!” said Thompson. “I have lived in Canora for the past 30 years. I am and have always been proud to live in such a great small community. I have many family and friends that live in this town and I have developed many valuable relationships. My family and I share common interests such as spending time outdoors, fishing, camping and hunting.”

He sees a variety positive attributes in Canora and its people.

“There are many things that I think are amazing about this community,” Thompson continued.  “I love the small-town mentality. You always see a friendly, familiar face. It's a clean, beautiful, peaceful and quiet town. I want to see my children and my children’s children grow up in this community. I want this town to feel the same way it did when I grew up; safe. I feel it would be my public duty to make that happen if elected.”

In addition to the safety of local residents, Thompson places a high priority on attracting new services, business and families to Canora.

“An ideal candidate for council would be open minded, strong willed, not afraid to be heard and have the will of the residents of Canora top of mind,” he said. “I think I would be a good council member because I have heard many people's positive comments about this town as well their complaints. If elected I want to be their voice and address the concerns they have. I have a strong mind and am not afraid to say what I am feeling, especially when it comes to this community. I am not a yes man.  I am willing to learn and keep an open mind,” Thompson concluded.

KERRY TRASK

Incumbent Kerry Trask is running for council and is employed as a chemical rep. with Nutrien.

“The reason I am looking to get re-elected is that in the last four years I feel we have made some very good decisions on helping Canora to strive forward,” said Trask. “With that in mind, I know there is lots on the “to do list”’ and I would like to be one of those involved in making those decisions.”

He said Canora has many inviting qualities, including being a safe place to raise children and see them educated, with caring staff at Canora Junior Elementary School and Canora Composite School.

“We have access to different lakes where we can camp, fish, hunt, hike and do whatever is your fancy,” Trask continued. “Canora has affordable housing with all of the amenities that larger centres have. We have affordable sports for our kids to enjoy. They are able to swim, play hockey, curl or play golf without their parents having to have three jobs to sustain it.”

Trask believes Canora provides an excellent opportunity for new small businesses.

“Starting a small business anywhere is definitely not a ‘cakewalk’ but in Canora, I feel the community is tightly knit enough that we are supporting our small businesses, making them viable. I compare this to trying to start a small business in a larger community where the larger players can make it very difficult for a small business to survive.” 

Trask said in forming a town council, it’s important for people of differing opinions to be open minded enough to see and respect the views of other council members.

“A priority of mine would be to maintain our current property tax levels, in spite of the COVID pandemic, higher cost of living, and so on. I feel we need to work at maintaining and enhancing Canora’s beauty. With aging infrastructure, aging sports facilities, waste disposal, water treatment and governments implementing changes regarding all of these, my long-term priority is to work together with the rest of the council in making wise decisions that will prove to be for the betterment of the Town of Canora.” 

Trask believes a town council candidate should be open minded and without an agenda.

“That person should have good people skills, including the ability to listen and repeat what they have heard. They should be diplomatic and respect confidentiality.”

He feels his sales experience allows him to be an effective community leader.

“Being able to envision situations that might arise, where I might have experienced similar issues in the past can prove to be invaluable. If elected, I will strive to help maintain the health and wealth of our beautiful community that we all call home,” Trask concluded.

DAVID WASYLIW

David Wasyliw is running for council and is recently retired after a career of almost 30 years with the Town of Canora, including 12 years as town foreman. He owns a construction business and previously worked at Wyonzek Construction.

“I decided to run for council because I have spent most of my life in Canora and wish to grow old here, so hopefully I can help shape the future of our town,” said Wasyliw. “I believe my years as an employee with the town may be beneficial with council’s future planning. I have no personal vendetta to accomplish by becoming a councilor.”

He believes Canora has many positive qualities to attract new residents.

“I believe Canora is quiet, safe and friendly. Many tourists compliment the town on its beauty with all the trees, flowers, parks and cleanliness. We have good schools, a hospital, lodge, shopping, skating and curling rinks, ball diamonds, golf course and many other facilities valuable to a small town,” Wasyliw added.

“If elected I would strive to help more businesses to get established, creating more jobs to help keep families here. With more families in town hopefully the high number of vacant houses could be filled. The selling of vacant lots in the empty new subdivision could see some new homes built. More low cost senior housing would be a wonderful asset for the town.”

His first priority would be no tax increases in the coming year.

“With the COVID pandemic some lost jobs, some lost businesses, some are just worried about our futures,” said Wasyliw. “So now is not a good time to tell people they need to pay more money for taxes. As a long-term plan I hope to see some advancements on improvements to infrastructures, recreational facilities and the development of our economy.”

He said a councillor must be willing to listen and communicate with all taxpayers and other members of council, maintaining an unbiased opinion while responding to the ideas and needs of the people.

“With my career in public works and the construction industry I feel I could bring a lot of knowledge to the table that would help in future planning for Canora. Since I spent most of my life here I know a lot of the population, and as a foreman with employees for the town and my own business I have learned to listen and deal with people’s needs. I am a very approachable and understanding person who is willing to talk,” Wasyliw concluded.