Longtime St. Vital city councillor Gord Steeves will resign his seat on city council in August to run in the upcoming provincial election. Lance reporter Arielle Godbout caught up with Steeves on July 20, following his last city council meeting as the representative for St. Vital.
Question: So that’s it. How does it feel?
Answer: It was all pretty good. I had a lot of fun. You know, to me, it doesn’t feel as much like a quote-unquote ‘retirement,’ only because I’m sort of moving right into something else that’s fairly contested and hot and heavy and all that sort of stuff. I guess maybe a lot of retirees, again, they feel like they’re heading into a rest — I certainly don’t feel like that.
Q: Looking back on your almost 11 years at city hall, what do you feel was your greatest accomplishment?
A: I’ve been around enough now to do some comparatives between different cities — I was president of the Federation for Canadian Municipalities, so I had the chance to see all municipalities across the country — and I don’t think anybody really accomplished what the City of Winnipeg accomplished over the last decade in terms of financial management and tax freezing and tax reductions. We’ve gone from probably the highest tax jurisdiction in Canada to about the lowest tax jurisdiction in Canada, if you can believe it. It’s not a dreadfully sexy thing, of course, but managing the finances over the course of my time there has been really exciting for me, and I know that it means a lot to the community.
Q: Now that you’re on your way out, and on to other things, what is it that you’re going to miss the most about being the city councillor for St. Vital?
A: The connection to the people. Inevitably in politics when you evolve out of something, you’re going to lose a certain amount of connection to the people. I think the reason any politician goes into politics is because you care about the people and you want to help with the issues that concern them. Obviously, there’s no position in St. Vital like being the St. Vital city councillor that would connect you more to the citizens of St. Vital. I know that as time goes by, even though I’ll still to be connected to the people of St. Vital, I’m not going to be that person who has that main connection. I’m going to miss that certainly, but it’s one of those things, I guess.
Q: Do you have any advice for whomever might end up filling your shoes?
A: It’s a big and in many ways diverse community. The community is evolving — there’s people coming from all over the world to live in the community. It’s a bit more varied and different than it used to be, which is great, but when a person comes in they’re going to have to know that a lot of people who live in St. Vital now weren’t necessarily born in St. Vital, or even in Manitoba, or even in Canada. And you have to make sure that you’re ready to create those liaisons, and create those bridges and be part of those new communities that are forming the fabric of St. Vital.