Richard Neufeld was introduced at last night's City Council meeting as the new Land Development Manager for the City of Estevan.
"I came from Alberta," shared the father of two. "I was a private contractor there and things were tough economy-wise. We wanted to try something different and my wife was not happy in Edmonton at all. So we were looking at different options and this opportunity came up and we looked at it. I thought it was an opportunity to maybe make a difference and also be a great place to raise a family."
He added that he moved a lot as a child so the idea of stability, for his children growing up was a factor in the decision.
"My son has some medical issues that he has to go into the United States for certain treatments occasionally and Minot is a heck of a lot closer to here than Great Falls, Montana is to Edmonton."
"And there's projects underway here that need to get going that would be pretty interesting."
He is in his 28th year of this field and shared that in his favourite part of the job is dealing with the public.
"I started out just doing map work where you sit in the cubbyhole. What started me in the career was I was doing subdivision diagrams with the provincial government and people would come in with a sketch of a subdivision and they'd have all these photos of deer and that kind of stuff."
It made him realize that being outdoors and getting out of the office was something he wanted to do.
"I had the training for it but I never gave it much thought as a profession. So I started working toward that and now here I am."
As for challenges, he is familiarizing himself with the city but knows there is work to do.
"It might be premature right now, I'm still getting acquainted. Everyday I'm finding out new facets of what's going on. The official community plan needs to be rewritten as well as the zoning bylaws. We're going to have more news on that in the next month or two as to what we're going to be doing."
"There are things that I've seen right now but I'm still looking into the background of why is it that way rather than casting some kind of judgement on it. It's a different kind of community, every community is different."
He will be working with discussions with the RM of Estevan and the planned annexation of land moving forward.
"I have met with the RM and I am trying to turn over a new leaf with them on a few issues. It's looking positive so far."
He noted that reading over some of the notes form discussions between the City and the RM, there is a theme of working together.
"And this is something I really enjoy. We're in this together. The city and RM have to either try to thrive working together or we can snipe at each other and then not achieve anything that we want to achieve. We're way better off working together."
"I'm hopeful that in the future that things are going to get better. I've got some ideas on how to do that. We'll see what happens."
He is looking forward to each challenge that the City throws at him.
"It's wonderful. I get to start fresh. The predecessor here did a lot of work, Rob Denys' background information for me that I can use and I can now take that up and run with it. And see with I can do with it."
He did notice that there a number of residential properties for sale, however, the downtown seems healthy with only the old Sears building and perhaps one more with a 'For Lease' sign in the window.
"That's pretty darn good for a community this size. If your downtown is healthy, generally that's a good representation of whether or not the community is healthy. If every third window in the downtown had a 'For Lease' sign or a 'For Sale' sign, that would be completely different."
He also added that decision to close Sears and Staples both came from a national level and not a reflection on the community.
"I'm really looking forward to meeting members of the community. Already I've had people walk up to me and with good will. I'm looking forward to getting to know the community professionally."
He is also looking for community feedback and welcomes feedback from the public.
"The City really rolled out the red carpet for me. They've been great to work with. And the community at large, my wife and I both can't say enough about how friendly people have been. Whether it be at my son's school or elsewhere in offering advice and suggestions and a helping hand even, in some cases for our family to make the adjustment. It's been fantastic so far."