It was a year of some difficulties, but also growth for Moose Jaw in 2018.

Mayor Fraser Tolmie sat down with Gina Martin to look back on the year that was in the Friendly City.

CTV Regina: What were some of the big triumphs, the big accomplishments of 2018?

Tolmie: We faced a lot of challenges this year. Some of the things that hit the press that we had some issues with some roads in the city of Moose Jaw, and we faced those challenges head on. I made a decision when I was going to be mayor that I wasn’t going to hide anything; I was going to deal with problems directly. So, I would say that we turned that situation around and we’re very, very happy. Going from being the worst paved road in Saskatchewan to the best paved road, I would say, in Saskatchewan.

There’s been numerous highlights that we’ve had. We’ve brought our community together with regards to our strategic plans. We’ve included Tourism Moose Jaw, we’ve included our Chamber of Commerce, we’ve included our downtown business group and we’ve included our destination marketing fund, along with city hall. So, we put everybody under the tent. We found that that was successful and so, we’ve been embarking on talking about branding our community and what’s the commonality there. We’ve brought those players back in, based on the success of what we had, and we’re seeing that the community really does want to work together. So, we’ve got some really good highlights and some really good things coming in the future years. So, this year the highlights would be the strong foundation to move forward and I believe we’re going to finish off strong in 2018.

CTV: The High Street West road, that was a project that did last longer than anticipated due to contracting issues. What was the biggest lesson learned from that project?

Tolmie: My own personal impatience was that I wanted this dealt with earlier. Unfortunately we had some weather issues that we had to wait for. But, we got a new city manager and, I said before he started, I want this dealt with and I believe our council wants this dealt with. The lesson learned is bringing our own city hall together to deal with the issues and not have different groups being siloed. Any time we talk about business or problems, we have everybody in the room. I think it’s a good way forward. That’s what my vision has been. So, really the lesson learned is that it’s working.

CTV: I want to talk about the sanctions that were levelled against three city councillors. I know you can’t speak directly to the situation. I just want to know, basically, in the aftermath of having to do those sanctions, there was a bit of backlash, particularly with the petition. How is council trying to regain the constituent’s trust after something like that?

Tolmie: To be quite honest with you, I feel that our community is confident in the fact that we acted quickly. So, our community knows that we don’t tolerate that and I think our community understands the limits of our power to make decisions. You can’t un-elect an official. But, we placed in sanctions because we made a decision based on the information that was provided to us. That was not easy, but we believe that we did that in the best interests of the community and to protect the community because of the position we were put in. I don’t apologize about that and I won’t apologize about that.

We have to look out for the best interests of the citizens of Moose Jaw. So, there’s confidence in the decisions that we’ve made. The community has a desire or has come forward with a petition to have one of the councillors removed. That’s up to the community and I believe that they’ve expressed that to council. It was a non-binding petition and, as I said, you can’t fire another city councillor, but we did place sanctions. I think they were weighted to the severity and the involvement of each councillor.

CTV: Moving and looking ahead to 2019 with Mosaic Place. I know there is a push to get more events there. Is this because the facility hasn’t been performing to the level that was anticipated?

Tolmie: These facilities, we understand that there’s a hockey arena there, there’s a curling facility, they’re married together, they’re under one roof. But, there are times when they’re not being used and there’s ample opportunity to bring events, concerts, conferences, you name it. That is an economic driver for our community. So, there is money that could be gained, that helps our local businesses, our local downtown, our hotels, our restaurants. That compounds, because it generates money for the economy.

So, that is what our desire is to push forward and to have some famous artist live in Moose Jaw. I think that’s great marketing in our community, great marketing for a band or an artist that wants to have a concert in the city of Moose Jaw. That’s what our drive is and the surrounding businesses contribute to those facilities to help pay. There should be a return. That’s a good return when you get people sitting in your restaurants or buying things from your stores or staying in your hotels.