BY JORDAN PARKER firstname.lastname@example.org
“I think 2014 was a great year, especially when I look at the events we held,” said Campbell. “We saw our second Winterfest, which was a huge improvement over the first. We added a bit to it this year.
“We also had our first-ever Harvest Festival in the fall. I’m really looking forward to holding another one.”
Jeff Mittelholtz and son Ian were competitors in the Harvest Festival Pie Eating Contest!
Campbell also heralded the designation of the Wong Guy Shoe Shop as a heritage property as a huge hallmark of last year.
“We are looking forward to working with the committee we struck, and we’re working on getting the building restored,” said Campbell.
He praised the Communities In Bloom program in the town for their efforts to bring some flair to the streets and buildings.
“Their work this year was fantastic. Just look at the downtown beautification process. The Elks Hall and other painting done rang really well within the community,” he said. “Comments through social media and just general comments were all very positive.”
“We launched it on the garbage pick-up issue, and it was a great idea that let us reach out and really connect with people,” he said.
“I’m looking forward to seeing more of that sort of thing. I think it’s a great way to find out how people feel, although we’ll still look at paper approaches as well.”
The town’s ability to rally together stuck out for Campbell.
“One thing that caught our attention was the amount of volunteers we have in our community. In 2014, we really saw that. We’ve seen good numbers in all our committees,” he said.
He points to the rink revitalization and theatre as just two examples of community spirit and volunteerism.
“You take a look around over the last year and the volunteers have pulled together to help us have services and facilities that we otherwise couldn’t have.”
A major difference between Gull Lake and some other communities is the wealth of volunteers.
“In some places, they talk about the same 10 people all the time. When you look around Gull Lake at the committees, there are so many different volunteers. Everybody just gets on board.”
Perhaps the greatest tourism-driver the town experienced was the CTV Hometown Tour.
“I think that was a really great thing to have the crew out here. A few years ago, we got this idea that we wanted to promote our town, and this is the greatest promotion we could have had,” said Campbell.
“They came out, and there were lots of young people here. What I saw was reflective of this community. There were so many kids and new families … You look between 2012 and 2014 and there’s been growth, with more families coming in. It’s a huge, positive thing.”
The restaurant on Main Street, formerly known as Cedars, was re-opened and rebranded as Decades. Campbell says the diner injected new flair into the community.
“By all indications, they’re doing well. We also have homes being sold, two lots were bought and even as of today I get calls about people trying to move to town. It’s tough to find a place to rent here,” said Campbell, who also manages properties in the town.
“There was a small increase in the school population of about 10 kids. From 2012 to 2014, there has been steady growth in our school.”
Campbell says a few committees have stood out for their efforts in the past year.
“Council was very impressed with the work the cemetery committee has done. It started with a revitalization, and they came out and got benches, put markers up and just did a fantastic job,” he said.
A lot of hard work has been done at the Gull Lake Cemetery this past year.
With plans for a columbarium next year, Gull Lake’s mayor is excited for what 2015 will bring for the cemetery.
He was also pleased with the town’s walking tour.
“The Downtown Heritage Walking Tour was also a real positive for this community. We are so rich in heritage,” said Campbell.
“I know we’ll be able to focus a little more on our heritage with the committee in the coming year.”
Mayor Blake Campbell enveils the plaque for the Wong Guy Shoe Shop.
Campbell is looking forward to the meetings the council will have with the Saskatchewan Economic Development Association in the coming year.
“At the tail end of 2014, we decided to undertake a community coaching session from the organization, and we’ll have meetings with them as a council. They’ll look at where we want the community to go,” said Campbell.
“We’ll reach out to community, compile surveys and try to connect with the community and find out what people want and where they want Gull Lake to go as a community. It will be an important process. It will allows us to move issues forward.”
Campbell also had high hopes for 2015’s Winterfest.
“There will just be more things on the go. I think the committee has done well with tweaking what’s working. It’ll be back bigger and better.”
He’s also looking forward to moving forward with the heritage committee, as well as seeing what Communities In Bloom does.
“I have no doubt that 2015 will be another great year for Gull Lake and its residents.”
PHOTOS BY KATE WINQUIST
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