Thompson city council held the first of two Speak Up Thompson! consultations at École Riverside School on Oct. 3.
Members of the community were welcomed in to the school’s gym to voice their questions, concerns or ideas on how to make Thompson a better place to live.
In attendance from council was Deputy Mayor Dennis Fenske who hosted the evening, Coun. Luke Robinson, Coun. Judy Kolada, Coun. Penny Byer, Coun. Charlene Lafreniere, and city manager Gary Ceppetelli, the municipality’s senior bureaucrat.
The evening kicked off with Fenske asking the question, what initiatives should the city prioritize in the coming year?
First to speak up was one of Thompson’s newest residents, Sandi Knight, who attended with her husband Russ. The Knights have been in Thompson since Sept. 8 and Sandi Knight says she hasn’t got a real sense of community pride.
“There’s just a lot of garbage around the city, and it doesn’t really instill pride,” said Knight, “it’s a beautiful city with so much to offer, I’d like to see a bit more attention paid to litter.”
Fenske mentioned that the city does have initiatives in place like the spring clean up and Coun. Robinson also made mention that the city has been looking in to putting up do not litter signs in a few places around town as a deterrent.
Former Thompson city councilor Harold Smith was in the audience and said that he would like to see a re-investment into existing infrastructure, and that he felt it would help drive up community pride and be helpful in the long term.
The topic of a Thompson detox facility was brought up to council, a long-standing issue that has been pushed for by both Mayor Tim Johnston as well as members of the public. Dawn Sands of the Thompson Neighborhood Renewal Committee brought up the need for a detox centre, while commending council for staying on the issue and pushing forward on it.
“We will continue to lobby and work with the province to deal with our issues and need for a detox facility,” said Fenske, “to take people away from their family and friends in order to access a detox facility is setting up for failure, shipping them south is just ludicrous.”
Ceppetelli echoed Fenske’s comments and also urged the community to keep pushing on the path towards a detox facility it Thompson.
“We have a stronger voice when we are all speaking as a community,” said Ceppetelli, “we need individuals and organizations to keep pushing.”
Fenske posed the question, what services in Thompson are successful and what can be done better?
Sandi Knight was once again quick to speak up, saying that she found the people in Thompson to be some of the friendliest she’s ever met, but that the city could do a better job branding itself.
Lafreniere gave a brief overview of the Thompson Economic Diversification Working Group (TEDWG) process, and that city branding was one initiative that was being looked at. Fenske backed Lafreniere up, saying that there was more to it than creating a brand, but also changing the current stigma.
“People out there do know Thompson, but they know it for the wrong reason,” said Fenske, “this is something we’re working towards, to make people want to come and see Thompson, we need to work on promoting ourselves.”
Thompson resident Carol Pelton spoke about some issues she had with Thompson’s public transit system and that it was difficult to access City Hall by bus. Lafreniere says that the city has been looking in to changing the bus routes as well as perhaps changing the fares for adults.
In total, close to 30 people attended the first of two Speak Up Thompson! sessions; the second is to be held Oct. 17 at Burntwood School. Robinson urged the town’s people to come out to not only the public forum but to approach councilors at any time.
“We’re here to take any questions you guys have,” said Robinson, “we work for you guys.”