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Nipigon appoints two new councillors

Council and administration viewed several applications before zeroing in on two prime candidates. Dougall Media attended the swearing-in ceremony and caught up with the new councillors - and Mayor Suzanne Kukko - afterwards to discuss their plans.
Nipigon councillors Anne-Marie Cartwright and Greg Harper. Pictured here on May 28, 2024.

NIPIGON — Say hello to Nipigon's new councillors.

The township of Nipigon has officially appointed Anne-Marie Cartwright and Greg Harper to fill positions vacated by Gordon MacKenzie and Kathrine Sakamoto, respectively.

Administration received several applications to fill the council vacancies, according to Mayor Suzanne Kukko, but narrowed it down to Cartwright and Harper.

They were sworn in during Nipigon’s regular council meeting on May 28.

Speaking to Dougall Media, Cartwright and Harper both said they are proud to represent the people of Nipigon.

Cartwright revealed she wanted to run for council prior to her appointment but life took her in a different direction.

“I had planned to run a couple of years ago during the last election in 2022 but my son was going through a lot of medical problems and I was running back and forth to Toronto at that time. I didn’t know if I would be able to commit to the job.

“When the opening came up, I thought this is the universe telling me it’s my turn,” she said.

Cartwright, who is the owner and operator of the Nipigon General Store and has called Nipigon home for over 31 years, said she hopes to bring “the working man’s perspective” to council proceedings.

“I see a whole variety – a cross-section of people. I know what’s important to the people that live here as much as what is important to the tourists – but more what is important to the people who call Nipigon home,” she said.

She specifically mentioned honesty and relatability as two traits she values when dealing with the public.

“You can’t judge someone until you’ve been in their shoes and a lot of people think, ‘it’s so easy – we can fix this problem and that problem and why don’t they do this?’ Unless you actually know the procedures and why things are done the way they are done you really don’t understand.

“I think people trust me. I hope they trust me. I’m in this for the community,” she said.

In terms of municipal challenges or projects she’s looking forward to tackling, Cartwright said she would like to focus on housing and making life more affordable for people who want to live in Nipigon. She told the story of a woman she knows who had to leave Nipigon because rent became unmanageable.

“Some of these big corporations have come and bought-up all the houses that were for rent. I know people who have had to leave because they were renting and they don’t have any place to live – they don’t want to live in Thunder Bay, they don’t want to live anywhere else, they want to come back to Nipigon but there’s no place for them to rent.

“There’s a shortage of everything from waitresses, nurses, PSWs – we have a lot of jobs to fill and I think the number one reason they’re not being filled is because there’s no place for people to live,” she said.

Harper, for his part, previously sat on Nipigon’s council over 15 years ago.

Now that he is retired, Harper felt the time was right to throw his hat back in the ring.

“It feels pretty good to be back . . . I’m looking forward to it a lot. I think we’ve got a good bunch here – there’s a lot of diversity and a lot of different experience. We’re going to do a good job and I think it will work out well for us. Hopefully, we can straighten the ship and work well for our citizens,” he said.

He also addressed infrastructure as something he’d specifically like to address now that he has returned to council.

“I’m passionate about the roads and our infrastructure because that’s one of the first things citizens deal with on a daily basis. I’d like to see some of our roads fixed up and our infrastructure.

“You get complaints about the roads all the time. I wasn’t even sworn in yet and I was getting some complaints and getting texts and stuff like that. The pool is a big item right now too. People do call me and express their concern – that’s what we try to fix-up here, if we can,” he said.

He concluded he’s happy and ready to move Nipigon forward.

Mayor Suzanne Kukko expressed her excitement about Cartwright and Harper joining council and what their appointment could mean for Nipigon.

“I’m very excited about the future of the township of Nipigon and this council. New energy is always very welcome on a council and on this council in particular.

"It’s great to have different skills, different experiences, and especially that new energy to come in and tackle things. I’m always looking forward to different ideas and hearing passion and enthusiasm from new council members. It feels wonderful to have a full council again,” she said.

Austin Campbell, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

About the Author: Austin Campbell, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Austin Campbell is a local journal initiative reporter covering stories in the Superior North region.
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