The Municipality of Springfield, Manitoba
Embracing one and all
Business View Magazine interviews Tiffany Fell, Mayor of the Rural Municipality of Springfield, Manitoba, for our focus on Growth in Canadian Communities
A municipality that began as a farming community has plans for so much more. Council and administration believe Springfield can be a place where residents live, work, and play. Springfield Mayor, Tiffany Fell, believes Springfield’s beauty, unique positioning, tax incentives, and support for residents makes it a great place to call home.
Incorporated in 1873, the Municipality of Springfield is located 30 minutes from the heart of Winnipeg. The urban areas of Springfield include Oakbank, Dugald, and Anola. On the east side, Springfield borders the beautiful Agassiz Provincial Forest. According to Mayor Fell, “Springfield is a place for everyone and represents and embraces different views and lifestyles of people of all ages and walks of life.”
To that end many of the projects the municipality has on the go are diverse. A local group of Springfield volunteers saw the completion of a seniors’ co-op housing facility in 2015 and this same group is now starting a second phase, which will add 60 assisted living units and provide assistance to 100 more residents who wish to age-in-place in their own community. The development is expected to break ground in 2021. These new units are in addition to 47 existing units in the not-for-profit housing co-op that currently provides housing for 100 people and supports 100 more living at home. Fell reports that she and her team are “working closely with a volunteer group in the municipality that is overseeing the project with the full support of Council. That’s a $16 million build, it’s expected to create numerous jobs in the municipality. “We’re very excited about this project as we want our seniors to be able to age-in-place in Springfield.”
In addition to this facility, Springfield is working to develop a secondary suite policy within a zoning bylaw that will allow residents to either build a new home that includes an ‘in-law’ suite or add a granny flat into their existing home to help family members. Fell believes this will take some of the pressure off the seniors housing facilities in the RM because people will be able to have aging family members reside with them.
Springfield Council recognizes that recreation is a big part of building a community. Driven from the Springfield Recreation Master Plan, the municipality is currently working on design plans for a recreation centre that will boast a number of amenities, including a multi-purpose community hall / gymnasium, a turf facility, multipurpose rooms, an indoor walking/jogging track, indoor playground and community kitchen totaling $18 million. On the same site, the municipality has just completed a community skate park and have broken ground on a splash pad. The municipality is also working on a plan to repurpose the old lagoon into a community recreation space by building a wetland which includes an off land area incorporating native vegetation, walking and hiking trails, picnic shelters, and more, subject to grant availability.
Council is also investing in infrastructure to improve the community for current residents and accommodate growth in Springfield. The Dugald water treatment plant upgrade plan will cost about $3.3 million and includes the development of a new water source, updating the ground water lines, expanding and insulating the reservoir, and treatment process upgrades. Although the price tag seems high, Council received a government grant to complete the project. And Springfield administration continues to apply for grants for all of their initiatives. A $6 million water treatment plant upgrade will allow additional growth in Oakbank, and includes locating an additional water source. According to Fell, “Oakbank’s water mains will be extended in a multi-year phased project that will increase the reliability and reduce health risk. These projects to extend those waterlines are dependent on funding availability and we also go out to the public that live in the designated area to see if the homeowners have an interest in moving forward.” In addition, they are expanding the lagoon that feeds Oakbank and Dugald because the current lagoon will not meet the needs with projected growth in 2023.
Springfield Council has been working hard to ensure it’s an attractive place for businesses to put down roots and for existing companies to expand. The municipality has a vast amount of undeveloped land and hope to have development and zoning plans completed soon to give businesses the ability to use that land. Economic development has been a focus for quite some time and Springfield hopes to attract even more businesses in the coming years. But currently they are working with Berger, a peat moss processing plant that expects to hire 50 people year-round located off Highway 207; Parrish & Heimbecker grain facility is completing an $80 million grain facility project just east of Dugald, bringing 10 to 20 new jobs to Springfield; a second Tim Hortons is now operational at Deacon’s corner, just off of Highway 1, which has created 40 to 50 new jobs. In the northern part of the municipality, Pineridge Hollow has been approved for a five-year expansion which includes a greenhouse, farmers’ market, a merchant village, and even a spa, and up to twelve new businesses opening in the newly constructed village – that project will also create about 45 to 50 new jobs in the area. As well, Gee Tee Holdings is creating an industrial development off Highway 207.
Springfield is also welcoming the Operating Engineers Training Institute of Manitoba Inc. (OETIM) to their permanent home in Springfield. The OETIM was established in 1986 as a joint labor and management non-profit organization to provide upgrades and training to people in the crane and heavy equipment industries.
All these expanding and newly located businesses are eligible for a tax incentive program – a five-year incremental cap policy that goes from zero to 20, 40, 60, 80, and 100 per cent tax refund for the municipal portion of taxes for any business locating or expanding in the RM. As the Mayor explains, “Council created the program a year and a half ago in an effort to promote our economic development and encourage commercial and industrial growth.”
Mayor Fell’s council and administration has always known economic development is a very important focus in Springfield, but the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted its importance to her because “this pandemic has brought to the forefront that we need to ensure we are doing our part along with the administration to encourage economic development and move it forward, obviously with the safety of our residents as a top priority, but the more jobs we can help to create in Springfield, and create that robust economic base, the healthier we will be as a community.”
Another incentive for businesses and residents is a joint venture with John Q and other capital region municipalities in a “Fibre to Farm” initiative to bring high-speed internet to rural areas. Springfield should have possible upgrades completed in two years. The municipality is also working to build more diversified housing in the community with apartments, single detached residences, townhomes, and condo buildings. In the next five years, Fell hopes to help create a municipality that has something for everyone and attracting more businesses to ensure residents have everything they need in the community.
Elaborating on that vision, Mayor Fell notes, “We want a place where people can live, have a wide range of housing alternatives for residents (and hopefully people moving in) to choose from, and a number of new businesses coming to Springfield. We want to see our economic base thrive. We want people to be able to work in the RM and live in the RM, as well as to have a multitude of recreational opportunities and to foster different interests.” That mission seems to be well on track to become reality in the not-too-distant future.
Springfield by the numbers:
- 15,324 is our total population (12,215 are aged 15 years and over)
- 70.4% is the employment participation rate
- 67.3% is the employment rate
- 4.5% is the unemployment rate
- 84.1% of the population aged 15 years and over hold a post-secondary certificate, diploma or degree
- 5,460 households with an average of 2.8 people per household of which 96% are owners
- $115,817 is the average total income of households
- $99,716 is the median total income of households
- Our property tax assessment ranks third in the province behind the City of Winnipeg and Brandon
AT A GLANCE
Rural Municipality of Springfield, Manitoba
What: Large, rural municipality; population 15,000+
Where: Eastern boundary of Winnipeg, Manitoba
Birkett Freight Solutions Inc. – Bfsworld.com
We Congratulate The R.M of Springfield on their inclusion in Business View Magazine. The Birkett Group respects our Corporate relationship with the R.M of Springfield, believing it is critical to engage progressively in mutually supportive processes. Having engaged with multiple departments over the past 25 years, inclusive of our “Deacon Landing” Commercial development venture, it has been our experience that the vision to be progressive, future focused and all-inclusive guides their decisions.