Jackman-Atkinson: Looking forward


By: Kate Jackman-Atkinson


On Tuesday morning, at the stroke of midnight, the calendars ticked over to 2013, beginning a new year.  The last 12 months have been filled with lots of changes locally, provincially and around the world.

Over the next year, we will see the effects of these changes as well as new challenges and opportunities. It’s impossible to predict the future, but these are a few of the issues I’m looking forward to following in the next 12 months.

Locally, we have seen a dramatic increase in population and the community has continued to look for ways to meet the needs and challenges of a rapidly growing town. Many of these challenges, such as housing, education, health care and commerce, remain as we move into 2013. 

I look forward to seeing how we, collectively and as a community, use this growth to pave the way for long-term success.  Can we achieve the benefits of a small town combined with the population and amenities of a bigger center? I’d like to see how we work towards this goal in 2013.

As a driver of our local economy, continued changes to the agriculture industry will be something to watch.  The increasing scale of farming operations, more land and bigger equipment, is continuing and we can expect it to see more of the same in the new year.

Among crop producers, it will be interesting to see the effects following the removal of the Canadian Wheat Board’s monopoly. For livestock producers, I hope we see more of a focus on them telling their story to non-farm Canadians.  Livestock producers need to let Canadians know that they are good stewards of the environment and that they take the care of their animals seriously. For all producers, I hope we see a year of strong prices.

Provincially, a couple of developments will be worth following in the coming months. The one with the largest impact is the forced amalgamation of smaller municipalities. This will impact almost everyone in the Banner’s coverage area and I am interested to see how municipalities and residents respond.

Cost cutting by both the provincial and federal governments will continue to have an effect on all Canadians. Compared to the challenges faced by other governments around the world, our governments are in relatively good shape, but we should take heed from what we are seeing going on around the world and our governments should be reining in spending.

The fact remains that the world economy is still a tumultuous place and I want to see our governments putting us in a strong position to meet these challenges. The forced austerity we see happening in Europe isn’t something we want to experience first hand.

We are seeing cutbacks to government departments, office closures and outsourcing, such as the Manitoba government’s sale of the Property Registry, and these will be interesting stories to follow. Over the last 12 months, we have seen changes to the seasons of operation in national parks and the announcement that the federal government is getting out of the community pasture business.

This year, we are going to see the effects of these changes as well as new announcements aimed at government belt tightening.

Throughout this next year, we will see the effects of the world economy trickle down to us in predictable ways, such as changing demand for our products outside Canada, but no doubt we will be effected in ways we can’t predict. Over the next 12 months, I look forward to following these stories, as well as new ones and having a front seat to what matters in our communities.