Norman Wells councillors have nominated Mayor Frank Pope for the award of Canada’s Top Mayor, the town announced on Wednesday.
A 10-minute video nomination published by the town – entitled the Frank Pope Story – sets out the mayor’s journey from Scotland to northern Ontario, Nunavut, and eventually the Northwest Territories.
In the video, deputy mayor Alexis Peachy praises Pope’s “steady leadership” and “work to build partnerships and a sense of community across the Sahtu region.”
Though the national award’s pedigree isn’t immediately clear – it appears quite new – winning would complete a turnaround for Norman Wells. Just three years ago, the town faced the dissolution of its council and appointment of a municipal administrator.
The NWT government took that action after what the territory termed “operational difficulties” arose in Norman Wells.
The town’s former senior administrator and mayor have since been locked in legal conflict with the municipality over allegations ranging from fraud to lost wages and breach of contract.
In his video nomination, Pope describes taking over “a council that had been tainted” following his election as mayor in the fall of 2018.
He and six new councillors formed a council to replace the one dissolved a year earlier.
“In a short period of time we’ve worked with these councillors and we’ve got the faith of the community back. That’s been a big accomplishment,” Pope said in the video.
“The biggest lesson is to be transparent, to talk to people. If they ask you a question, answer it or get them an answer. Don’t push them away.”
Peachy said: “He cares about the residents of Norman Wells and is deeply passionate about our community.”
Paying tribute to his adopted home community, Pope says in the video: “The first thing you notice is the beauty of the scenery and the surrounding area. We have muskox, we have moose, we have caribou, we have all kinds of wolves and bears.
“In addition to that is the people. We’ve got a very diverse community.
“All around, it’s just a great place to live.”