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Introducing Barry Elliott

Posted on March 24, 2022 by Maple Creek
Welcome to Maple Creek: Michelle McKenzie greets Barry Elliott at the Town office.

Barry Elliott has always possessed something of a gypsy spirit.
He traces it to a wandering childhood, the consequence of having a Mountie for a dad, who was transferred every three years.
It meant that Flin Flon-born Elliott was raised all over Manitoba.
The nomadic lifestyle continued in his adulthood. He worked in Ontario before starting a 40-year-plus municipal government career that took him to all four western provinces.
Maple Creek will be his ninth municipality ­– and his last. At least that is the plan.
“My intent is to work until I’m 70,” he says. “So, I’ve got a little over six years. I’ve kind of got a six-year plan, which I will be refining when I get here.
“I want to help Maple Creek move forward even more.”
Elliott believes being widely travelled will help him meet the challenges of his new workplace.
“It has always served me well because you get exposed to a lot of different elements in different jurisdictions in different circumstances and you find that so many of them are applicable in the new locations. So, it helps to be a little bit worldly, perhaps. I want to make sure that I’m making best use of my experiences.”
It would be wrong to see Maple Creek as a random destination in his life journey.
He has a family connection with the area: his wife Carmen’s sister and brother-in-the-law, Scott and Theresa, own the Historic Reesor Ranch in the Cypress Hills.
“I got to know them after Carmen and I met and got together. The first time I was in Maple Creek was in 2001.
“We come back typically every second Christmas for family gatherings out at the ranch and we often make tracks into Maple Creek. We’ve also done a lot of our summer holidays at the ranch and in the area. So, I’ve gotten to see Maple Creek almost every year since 2001.”
His initial impressions were of a quaint little town that seemed to be bursting with energy.
“Over the years I’ve watched the metamorphosis in the town and it’s really something that the community and the people here should be very proud of. You can see the growth and the energy and the way that they’ve come together through some real tough times. They’ve done a tremendous job of presenting themselves to the outside world from what I’ve seen. So, I’m really impressed with Maple Creek. Got a real fondness for it over the years. So, we are so excited to have the opportunity to be here and to be part of it.”
It is a path he has long wanted to follow.
“For some time, we’ve been looking at Maple Creek as a hoped-for opportunity and here it is, it has become an opportunity. So, very soon we will be here. April 25 will be my first day at work, so it will be exciting. I am looking forward to it very much.”
That doesn’t mean leaving Nipawin will be easy emotionally.
“Nipawin and the region I’m working in now have been very, very good to me and Carmen. They are a wonderful part of the province and there are wonderful people in that area and terrific communities, and great camaraderie. So, I love that area as well.
“However, I have now an opportunity to get to an area that we’ve kind of had our eye on for some time and certainly to get closer to family. We haven’t lived terribly close to family for many, many years, so this is part of the reason for coming here. I look at Maple Creek as being a real opportunity to help keep that forward momentum, so here we are.”
How familiar is he with issues in Maple Creek?
“I know some of them, but I’m not going to speak to that until I really sink my teeth into them. I’ve been hearing some things. I know you’ve got a committed Town Council that really wants to do some good things for this community and I know that there have been challenges along the way. There are in every municipality, so this is no different truly. It’s just a little different nuance to an issue that I might have been experiencing lately up in my area. It’s all part of progressive growth.”
Elliott’s peripatetic career in municipal government started in Brandon, Manitoba, in 1980.
He has found plenty to excite him in each province that became home.
While everywhere has challenges, municipal government, he says, is very typical from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.
“You will see different nuances to it, but it’s very much the same. You’ve got people that you are working for and communities that you are trying to help and it’s a wonderful career to be able to be working in public service. It’s quite an honour.”
For the first 22 years of his career, Elliott was involved mostly in recreation and leisure services, playing the role of director.
In 2007, he made the leap into administration. His first posting was in Fort Macleod, Alberta.
“It was again a very positive experience, a real learning curve to move from a department head to an administrator role, but I found it very exciting, very rewarding, very challenging, but absolutely a pleasure to be involved in that.”
Elliott says he is comfortable living in small communities, which only adds to the appeal of Maple Creek.
As well as Fort Macleod and Nipawin, his resume includes Tumbler Ridge, British Columbia; Morden, Manitoba; Neepawa, Manitoba; Mackenzie, BC; and Fort Nelson, BC.
“So, mostly small communities. I love the ambience and feel of a small community. You really feel like you get to know the folks in the community. You develop that relationship with them, you get to know who they are, and that’s important, I think. I would imagine it’s tough in a large city because it’s just so large you don’t make that connection to that extent. I know I’ve come to know many people who come into the office with different issues and you see them repeatedly. They become familiar to you. That can be helpful to understanding what they are looking for, what their needs are.”
Elliott says he and Carmen have already found Maple Creek to be very welcoming.
“We’ve been into a few of businesses here, talking to people and buying a few things through the years, and it has always been a positive experience. Clearly people are proud of their community in Maple Creek and they should be, and they show it.”
The couple have already found a place to live in Maple Creek. Now they have to sell their house in Nipawin, as well as a little commercial building. There is little time to waste, he says.
“You have to move quickly. When I come here at the end of April, I want to be able to get started. I don’t want to be in transition still. I want to get started, and I know the staff here have been working very, very hard to keep all the services in place and Council has been working very hard to meet the needs of their constituents.”
Elliott will spend his first week working alongside Tony Goode, the Interim CAO, getting familiar with the issues.
Although his job will be a major preoccupation, Elliott is keen to maintain a balanced lifestyle.
“I used to be an avid fisherman, I used to be an avid golfer, but I’ve found since transitioning into administration that it’s just been so busy that I haven’t done quite as much of that as I would like. My wife and I do love spending time with family, so we’ve made lots of treks down to this area and beyond that I’m a bit of a handyman, so lots of renovations. I help out at the ranch when I’m down there.
“It’s like therapy, it’s a different kind of work, it’s physical work rather than mental work and that’s challenging certainly, but gives me a chance to put that thought process perhaps away a little bit and focus on something a little different.”
Elliott and Carmen love the outdoors, which often means saddling up.
“Out at the ranch, we do lots of riding. It’s such gorgeous country. This whole area is stunning, it really is. The area immediately around Maple Creek is beautiful of its own accord. You are part of something much larger and exciting. We are very much looking forward to getting settled.”
His 21-year love affair with Maple Creek is about to enter a new phase.
“We are going to enjoy the community, we are going to enjoy the region, we are going to enjoy the people.”

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