By Gillian Massie
The Biggar municipal election has voted out the incumbent mayor, who is gracious for his time spent in the office.
Ray Sadler, owner of the pizzeria and vinyl shop “Ray’s Vinyl,” has represented Biggar for 16 years. Many are sad to see Sadler leave but are also excited about the restaurant’s future.
“Biggar was a wonderful community to serve as a Mayor,” remarked Sadler.
Retired healthcare worker Jim Rickwood defeated Sadler, who garnered 358 votes, to Sadler’s 261.
Sadler extends his gratitude to Biggar’s community, which has allowed him to serve as mayor for the past 16 years. His takeaway from the mayor’s role capitalizes on how each person who walks through his doors brings something insightful to him.
“You never stop learning; you can’t. If you stop learning, reading, understanding, you’re blocking the path of a beautiful flow of energy,” he said.
While Sadler is moving on from his role as mayor, he has chosen to shift his focus from politics to more volunteer-based activities. He wants to aid the regrowth and popularity of churches in Biggar. Furthermore, he is registered in a course that analyzes the interpretation of the law called the Foundations of Administrative Justice.
He is also focusing on developing his restaurant “Ray’s Vinyl,” a unique and eclectic pizzeria and vinyl store. The restaurant is an assortment of items that have either been collected or gifted to Ray. These prove to be some of the most ordinary things in the shop, from the dozens of license plates to beginner artists’ artwork. The store’s unique factor comes from the dusty pinball machine in the corner to the enormous hornet’s nest contained in a glass container, along with various other assorted trinkets. Behind all the posters and knick-knacks decorating the walls are the signatures of every guest who has visited the restaurant.
Current developments sanctioned for the summer include a backyard patio where customers can enjoy a slice of pizza, a new website for “Ray’s Vinyl,” will outline the menu and events, including live music, and a potential new podcast giving the inside scoop, tips and tricks on the vinyl medium.
“What I am trying to create at “Ray’s Vinyl,” is a place where people can come and get back into music again,” explained Sadler, “an idea creates magic, so never forget the magic and never stop dreaming.”
The restaurant owner’s role benefitted Sadler in the mayor’s position because it allowed them to speak with the mayor in a relaxed setting.
“When you are in the role of the mayor, people were very supportive. If you are doing something, you have to be communicative about what you’re doing and why you are doing it.
I have an open-door policy. Whenever the council makes a decision, people could always walk into the restaurant to talk to me.”
To Sadler, being mayor was about listening to the public and making decisions on their behalf. By encouraging conversation about the happenings of Biggar. One of Sadler’s regrets is not having enough curated public forums to allow for Biggar’s people’s thoughts and opinions to form.
“I put it on myself, I didn’t have a lot of community forums, but that doesn’t mean that people can’t get involved with the councillors and committees of Biggar and come with their ideas,” explained Ray.
With Biggar being a quiet and small community, it is encouraged that so many people live here for the small-town lifestyle. Located an hour west of Saskatoon, the city is an asset being so close for people to run bigger errands. Many trades job opportunities present themselves in Biggar, and Sadler explains how the college needs to expand to attract more young people.
“My vision is growing the college back, Great Plains College for secondary education. Putting us more in line with a great place to learn but a great tourism spot. I think lots of tourism can be created by people becoming entrepreneurs. I have always pushed for the college’s expansion, which would mean offering different courses.” said Ray.
The safety and security of Biggar are also in question, with COVID-19 cases sprouting up like wildfire. Mandatory masks have been implemented in Saskatoon, Regina, and Prince Albert and now in communities five thousand and less. Mandatory masks may soon be implemented across the province, and Sadler believes that the enforcement of wearing masks needs to include education and accessibility.
“The enforcement of any law has to have a lot of legal teeth.” begins Sadler, “More knowledge has come out to convince people who are skeptical of masks. I do not want to force anybody in the community to do something without a proper explanation. We need to make masks more accessible and more affordable. More importantly, make it free, in a time of crisis.”
Sadler leaves the office with some advice for Mayor Rickwood: “Be strong, be honest, be respectful, work with your community, and go out to see your community, be humble of your appointment which is a privilege and an honour to have, and get the support of your community by listening.”