The race for the city’s downtown will be the race to watch as five new candidates vie for the vacant Ward 2 seat.
With Coun. Greg Dionne making a run for the mayorship, the position remains open and five candidates of varying background have stepped up with nominations.
Peggi-Lynn Gatin is a community health care worker with experience on numerous boards and committees throughout Prince Albert and province.
Chad Mogg is the owner of Dr. Java and businessman back in Prince Albert to raise a family.
Rick Orr is a businessman with a long history of community involvement and leadership.
Colleen Whitedeer is a research assistant for social organizations in the city as well as a stay-at-home mother.
Joel Thiessen is the youngest candidate in any ward at a spry 23. He’s a student, works at a bank and as a sales person at a local jewelry store.
paNOW spoke with the candidates and asked for their take on their ward’s and their city’s pressing issues.
paNOW: What are the biggest issues facing Ward 2?
Rick Orr: “I’ve met with families and some of the businesspeople downtown and we’re all on the same page. Everyone seems to think we need to have more events downtown, increase the population downtown. We need more events like the Taste of Prince Albert, we need the cultural events, the street fairs. We have a resource that’s totally under used.”
Chad Mogg: “The biggest challenge in the downtown is the negativity that the downtown are has. I definitely want to see downtown change for the better, so it’s better for businesses that are down there right now. I think it’s going to benefit Prince Albert in a huge, bringing more variety down there, making it a destination.”
Colleen Whitedeer: “It’s very limited in the downtown, the closet grocery stores are Cornerstone and the West Hill, which makes it difficult for a lot people who don’t have cars to get to.”
Peggi-Lynn Gatin: “Ward 2 is very diverse. When I talk to people in Hazeldell and Nordale, one of the key concerns is the bridge. I’ve talked to people that live in the downtown core. The thing they’re looking at is affordable housing. There are also many seniors in downtown core. Some of the concerns for them are safety, access to shopping and grocery stores.”
Joel Thiessen: “One of the issues that I see is all the industries moving away from where the seniors are located over into Cornerstone. For the seniors, it’s a pretty big issue. There wasn’t a whole lot of what we could do but we could have thrown a grocery store somewhere in there so the seniors weren’t left high and dry.”
paNOW: What does the city need to do to improve business in the community
RO: “One of the secrets of future growth for our city is attracting new business and the new business we need are the ones that creates jobs. And that includes existing businesses. If a local business wants to add on to their business, we should take away all the impediments, all the bureaucracy and make it easy for businesses to work together.”
CM: “We need to get more business here. Maybe bring in some tax incentives to big businesses to make them want to build in PA. There’s a lot of development issues, I know from talking to people developing in the city so to make the development process a lot easier and more user-friendly would be also not be as big a deterrent to help PA expand.”
CW: “I believe that infrastructure is important but at the same time we have to bear in mind that families are also important. If you want healthy people to give back to the labour force or work force, focus on the family and have healthy families. That way everyone wins. You get your employees and your employers.”
PG: “What’s important is that we need to continue to attract industry here. We have lots of retail, which is good for our community, but we also need to attract business so that we can have people with careers and good jobs, which sustains the other businesses that we do have. We need to have healthy communities. If we don’t have healthy communities than we don’t have people that are there to work and meet that demand.”
JT: “Because everything is moving to Cornerstone, and I’m not saying Cornerstone is bad. It’s throwing the rest of the city into a slump. We need to be a little more attractive to the larger businesses, to the franchises, to the small businesses. We need to be more of an empowering city to the businesses.”
paNOW: How can the city reduce crime over the next four years
RO: “The first thing and most important is to make sure we have enough feet on the ground. We also need to work with the community. It’s proven the secret is community policing where the police and all the different requirements of our society, social workers, community workers, it takes them all to come together to get on cohesive plan to make our streets safer. We need to make sure those resources are available to continue that good work.”
CM: “I’d like to see a substation come back, take a look at it, why it was taken out. A lot of the business owners I’ve talked to say it was a lot better when that substation was down there. Overall, I’d like to be able to take a look at the whole police budget and see if there’s some areas they’re spending too much money in. We might be able to free up and hire more officers. I believe public safety is number on in the city.”
CW: “Again, it goes back to building families. I hear this perception that you’ve got to avoid downtown. But these are young people that are bored. If they have something to do … focus on community building, have things for young people to do. If they had things to do, then they wouldn’t resort to doing these criminal acts.”
PG: “There are many initiatives happening our community for that. Our community policing approach is one of those key things. How we build our neighbourhoods, how we build our sidewalks and our streets, where we put our grocery stores, etc., etc., all those things impact on the safety of our community also.”
JT: “Prince Albert has had one of the largest drops in crimes over the past couple of years. I’m not saying it’s completely done—we’re not finished yet. I believe we should continue what we’re working on find other ways as well to decrease crime in our city?”
paNOW: What needs to be done to get a second bridge in Prince Albert?
RO: “We do need another bridge. It’s a way to take the heavy trucks off of Second Avenue and put them outside of the city. What’s important to me is knowing that province has taken responsibility and they’re going to repair our bridge. However, I understand we’re only going to get that second bridge when it’s economically viable and the province and the feds kick in for that.”
CM: “We definitely need a second bridge here in Prince Albert. But we should not only look at the Prince Albert residents that use the bridge daily, but what about the surrounding towns? Getting some of these other communities on board with us to be able to go to government and show them it’s not just Prince Albert effected, it’s also anyone north, east and west of here.
CW: “The campaign on the second bridge I strongly support because I think as the gateway to the north, a huge portion of revenue comes from the people of the north, so why not build a second bridge regardless of if it’s in the city or outside the city.”
PG: “We need to continue to advocate our provincial government on that. We can’t do it ourselves as a city and we need to continue to advocate for that to not only support in the city but those of the north and the surrounding communities.”
JT: “There are a lot of politics involved in getting a second bridge. But every time I turn around I see Saskatoon getting another bridge. When I look at what happened with us, when our bridge was not usable, it basically shut the whole city down and that’s something that we have to avoid at all costs. We can’t have that happen again. We need to talk to the provincial government or whoever we need to talk to in order to get funding for a second bridge.”
paNOW: Why should people vote for you in the election?
RO: “I’ve got a diverse background in business. I’ve working with the Chamber. I’ve worked with a number of groups, the United Way, I’ve been past president of Crime Stoppers, I’ve been past president of the Lion’s Club. My feeling is that all of that brings me to an understand a little bit more about the diversity of our community.”
CM: “I’m bringing a hard, hard work ethic that I’ve always had and the drive to change the city positively. I’m not getting on council to make friends. I’m here to be a voice for the people of Ward 2 and anyone who wants to raise concerns.”
CW: “The commitment, the ambition and the drive to see the change and making things happen.. And I’ve always been an advocate for the people facing social injustices and I’d like to see changes.”
PG: “I bring a lot of leadership experience to that table. I am very approachable. I am a person who gets things done. I am also a very respectable person and I’d like to see that continue on city council.”
JT: “One of the things that makes me stand out is my age. Because I’m younger, I’m bringing forth a new set of idea, I’m bring for a new set of solutions. They may not all be the best solutions but it brings forth a whole bunch that maybe no one has ever thought of before, which may bring out some overall better solutions or at least some better discussion.”
On Twitter: @DrewdeSouza
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