Morden’s Mayor Talks Morden-Winkler Rivalry, Bruce the Mosasaur and More: 5 Questions with Ken Wiebe

Ken Wiebe, the Mayor of Morden, was elected in 2010 and is serving in his second term. He attended school in Morden, worked for a short time in Winnipeg and then enlisted in the Royal Canadian Navy in January 1967. He served in a variety of positions in the Canadian Armed Forces until retirement in May 1996.  He was in business with his brother in Winnipeg for 7 years when Ken and his wife Linda, who is also originally from Morden, decided to move back to their home town in 2003. They started their own decorating business and operated it until 2010 when Ken ran for election. Ken and Linda have 2 children and 2 grandchildren.
  1. I’ve noticed Morden has a thriving downtown. What’s your secret?
    • Morden has a unique downtown with a boutique feel. There are numerous small businesses that provide a shopper with all those eclectic things that you would normally find in a larger centre. Jewelry, much of it hand crafted by local artisans, the Pembina Hills Arts Centre which displays and sells art and crafts by local artists, health and beauty products which are manufactured on site, clothes and quilt shops, florists, coffee shops, tea house and restaurants all in approximately 2 KM.  You can park once and never be more that 3 blocks from your car.
  2. Bruce the Mosasaur is amazing. Is Morden taking steps to find more fossils like Bruce?
    • Bruce claims to be Mordens oldest citizen and since no one knows where he came from or when he was born, it is hard to refute his claim. The Fossil Discovery Centre (CFDC) has a dig site and continues to make new discoveries annually. The CFDC has dig tours during the summer and it is not often that participants don’t find something. Our latest addition is the Turtle at the west end of the city along highway 3. It, like Bruce, is built to scale.  Bruce was manufactured in Alberta but the Turtle was built by a local artist. City Council has plans to build more replicas of creatures that have been found at our dig site.
  3. When you’re showing around visitors from out-of-town, where do you bring them first?
    • Where I start on a tour depends on the main interest of the person I am hosting. Our Access Events Centre, which houses the Manitoba Baseball Hall of Fame, CFDC, Huron and Coop Gold Arenas as well as a Community Hall and Conference Centre and Vern’s Carpets Play Room is a good start. If parks and play grounds are your interest, then any one of our 7 public parks with some of Manitoba’s oldest trees is where I will guide you. If it is business and or industry then we have areas that will provide you with unlimited potential.
  4. Does the Mayor of Morden get to live in one of the city’s famous castles?
    • When Linda and I first moved to Morden in 2003 we purchased and lived in “Stodders House”, a Queen Anne Victorian home at the corner of Thornhill and Nelson Streets. A heritage home can provide a unique living experience but it also requires a lot of maintenance. We upgraded the doors, some windows, wiring and plumbing, flooring and added a garage and loft. After 4 years and still not being able to see the bottom of the pit, we sold and moved into a nondescript bungalow. One of us is happy with the decision.
  5. The Daily Bonnet often jokes about a rivalry between Morden and Winkler. How would you describe the relationship between the two cities?
    • Rivalry between communities can be good and fun as well, particularly when it involves school or community sports teams. It gives you the opportunity to say “Take that”. However, when it comes to business and commerce, cooperation and mutual support by elected leaders will be much more beneficial to the communities and region. For example, the RM of Stanley and the Cities of Winkler and Morden have joined forces on a grant application to build waste water treatment plants for the region.  Should our applications be successful, and we have no reason to believe they won’t be, we will be able to eliminate our lagoons. The water going into the Dead Horse Creek from these facilities will be of a higher quality than what we are treating for drinking water now and that is good for the environment. Community cooperation is evident in our Regional Library and Boundary Trails Health Centre, Swamp, the MSTW planning district and a few other things that are being looked at. As we grow it will be ever more important for the RM and two cities to create a common vision, cooperate and move forward as one municipality. I believe it can be done, we just need to create a public awareness of the possibilities and the benefits but that would require political will. Not quite there yet on that aspect. Our relationship in summary, good and improving with age, like a fine wine.  Wonder if I can say that and not get shunned?