Byelection candidate Blake Ellis: ‘I’ve chosen this place as my home and I want to make it better’

A councillor from 2014 to 2018, Blake Ellis has lived in Thompson for 21 years, working at the Thompson Citizen and Nickel Belt News, the Burntwood Regional Health Authority, the Thompson Neighbourhood Renewal Corporation and currently at the Royal Canadian Legion. Ellis finished 24 votes behind the other byelection candidates, Chiew Chong and Andre Proulx, in the Oct. 24 municipal election.

What motivated you to run for city council a second time?

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I want Thompson to be able to grow. Thompson at one time was solely a mining town. I was around during the 1999 strike and that had huge impacts on the city. It’s having an impact now but it’s not the same level. The mining industry is a large industry but we’ve become a regional centre for education, for health care, for retail, for recreation, for transportation and we’ve strengthened all those pillars over the years. I’ve been through the boom and the people that get squeezed in those good economic times tend to be lower-income people so we need things like transit and affordable housing that help people stay in the community. Basically, we want to make Thompson a community of choice for everyone whether you’re wealthy or whether you’re low-income.

What is the most important issue you want to tackle if you are elected to council? Has this changed since the initial election cycle took place back in the fall of 2018?

Infrastructure renewal was always a big plank of the past council and we must continue doing it. Our city was built all at once and it’s aging all at one and so that’s putting a strain on the community. We have 74 kilometres of water mains in the community. We’ve got 64 kilometres left to replace.The plan was, after the sewage treatment plant, we were going to look at Norplex Pool. There’s been a 180 done by this current council to close that facility and then talk about a new facility. Let’s get it up and open again and then we can talk about the future. We also need a new fire hall. Our fire hall was built in 1971. It was built for a much smaller force. That building can’t fit all of the equipment that’s needed by the fire department. If we don’t have this stuff how do we attract people to the community, how do we attract businesses to the community? The strength of Thompson’s going to be based upon the strength of Northern Manitoba. They need us as much as we need them.I’m always looking long term. I’ve lived in Thompson for 21 years and I see the huge potential here. I plan to stay here the rest of my life.

Why should someone vote for you over the two other candidates who are running for this last seat on council?

I’ve been at the table and learned a lot at that table. We’ve had to make some difficult decisions in the past four years but you’ve got to prepare to make them and you’ve got to prepare to stand by them. Anyone coming in, it’s a huge learning curve and I don’t need that learning curve.

Do you foresee any difficulties in joining the current city council, now that they are several months into their term?

The committee assignments have already been given out. That will correct itself come next November. I think I can walk in there pretty smoothly and pick it up pretty quick in terms of what ‘s happened in the last five months. It’ll be different walking in midway but we’re not too far into the term.

Is there anything else you want to add?

We’re transitioning as a community away from the industry that brought us here but I think we’re doing OK. The Pas and Flin Flon would envy us in terms of what we have being the regional hub of Northern Manitoba. I think we are in good economic shape. We’ve got to think about what’s best for us in terms of economic development. I’ve always volunteered in the community in the last 21 years I’ve been here. I plan to be here for many years to come. This is my home and I’ve chosen this place as my home and I want to make it better.

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