The Fruits of Discouragement


First elected Mayor in 1990, she was not re-elected in 1993, which she now attributes to unfortunate timing. The city had just undergone amalgamation, municipalities across the country were experiencing serious downloading as the federal and provincial governments attempted to reduce their deficits, and the interest rates were at an all time high. The effect of the city's finances was disastrous. Shannie was forced to undertake major restructuring of the City organization which led to downsizing, layoffs and a long and bitter strike.

"A real low point in my life," Shannie said. She was filled with doubt as she reflected on why she lost the race and what she could have done differently. But in the end, she believed that "things happen for a reason" and the time out from politics was good for perspective, replenishment, quality time with her family, and some new directions.

The local Rotary Club persuaded her to serve as founding Chair of an affiliate of Habitat for Humanity Canada, which she accepted because she knew so little about building and it would give her a chance "to learn a whole new set of skills and to work with low income families to build homes which they could actually own, giving them some hope of breaking out of the poverty cycle. Fifteen years and 32 houses later, I am still actively involved as a volunteer". She was also a project manager for a special Ed Schreyer Work Project in 1997 that saw seven homes built in one week with 500 volunteers.

These experiences helped restore her confidence and she ran for a seat on City Council, which she won and has maintained ever since.