Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Priice Albert - poem by Sarah Bunge

Prince Albert

The winter's are long in this cold northern town
and the sun it sets early at night
But even in daytime some things happen here
that I know in my heart are not right

Three people froze to death already this year
having spent all the night in the snow
In allyway snowbanks their bodies were found
frozen stiff with the bite of the cold

Their deaths are a tragedy, or so we all say,
as we wonder what more can we do
We'll make grand plans and decisions, yet in a few weeks
we'll forget the tragedy we're referring to

So many pass silently, just disappear
the homeless, the sick and alone
The girl on the corner who is selling herself
For a fix, a dollar or a simple ride home

How many will come here and meet the same fate
these people we try to ignore
What will it take for our eyes to see
the souls we could not see before

Yet there's hope for this town if we all come together
and discard old divisions and fear
If we laugh and we smile the winter will pass
with the warmth of the sun, spring draws near

Sarah Bunge

Tuesday, 26 February 2013


You know I have had trouble sleeping in my warm bed. I cannot stop thinking about  why we have lost three of our homeless citizens to the cold this winter. That is why I had to speak up and Give notice of Motion about finding alternative solutions to this serious problem in our city.

I realize that people at risk may not choose warm havens that are always available. They may choose to take substances that might impair their ability to make a life decision. With that said my motion asks the Board of Police Commissioners to look at options that may include ideas that are possibly controversial and against public opinion such as "wet houses". “Wet houses” would allow people that are at risk to have options to find a place to live without the societal pressures that may make them not choose current safe shelter. Further I have been told our police may be expending possibly over 20% of their labours dealing with a small societal factor of our citizens that are continually at risk and that are known as habitual substance abusers and requiring police intervention. Our at risk citizens might find success fighting their addictions if we could use our skills to encourage them to use alternative options. The CORE is working so well that maybe we need something similar that will provide these few at risk homeless alternatives that will keep them safe with whatever demons and health issues they may be experiencing. We should look at partnering with our senior governments to look at options that will hopefully provide us with less risk of homeless deaths in the future.  And yes, I realize we cannot lead the horse to the water and make them drink. But we must at least try to lead them to our best solutions. Folks, our problems unfortunately are not limited to our homeless.

The facts are simply we are losing people to alcohol, drugs and vulnerable people are dying. It is time we took a look at innovative solutions to one of our biggest policing and community issues, substance abuse. It not only affects  individuals and families but costs us all with increased insurance, health, social services, education system and policing costs. Just think if we had 20% more police resources at work in our community what results that might bring?

Our neighbours in South Dakota have taken a stand on their problems with legislation called 24/7 Sobriety Program. This of course is under their laws and would require provincial and federal legislative law changes. Maybe it is time to look at the whole issue instead of pieces of the puzzle. Finding one piece will not complete the whole puzzle. We need to look at the whole picture. The fix is now up to our experts.

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Baby Steps A look at 10 to 20 year facility plan for the City

A tiny first step? Raiders and city officials tour new facility in Moose Jaw

Published on February 13, 2013 
Perry Bergson  RSS Feed
The Prince Albert Raiders aren’t going to move into a new arena tomorrow.
But with a trip to Moose Jaw on Tuesday that saw 34 team staff and directors, civic politicians and local businessmen tour Mosaic Place, they hope a tiny seed has been planted.
Team president Dale McFee, himself a former player who won a Memorial Cup with the team, says the Raiders have become an important an well-known symbol of Prince Albert across the country. He told the delegation that he hoped the tour would spark a discussion about what a new arena could look like.
“We’re not going home and getting into a debate about whether we should build a hospital or a bridge or a rink,” McFee told the delegation. “That’s not why we’re here …
“The last thing we want is to go home and start this debate with ‘We’re building a rink tomorrow’ and have everybody up in arms in Prince Albert. There’s a lot of homework that needs to be done. This is just step one.”
With the smallest building in the 60-team Canadian Hockey League, the Raiders say they are hoping to get a community conversation started about the need to eventually replace the 41-year-old Art Hauser Centre.
The team is doing well with the facility it has.
The Raiders are actually selling seats at 102 per cent of capacity; last season it averaged 2,354 per game while this season it’s averaging 2,633.
The Western Hockey League has had a requirement for the last decade that new buildings seat a minimum of 4,000 people. Prince Albert, with a capacity of 2,580 fans at the Art Hauser Centre, and Swift Current, which can seat 2,879 at the Credit Union iPlex, were allowed to keep their existing buildings, but with the understanding that they would be replaced in the future.
Bob MacDonald sits on the Raiders board and serves as the team’s governor at board meetings. He says the WHL isn’t putting any pressure on the Raiders.
Instead, the league wants its franchises to be profitable. He notes that since he served as team president a decade ago, the team’s budget has gone from $1.2 million to $2.1 million.
“We need revenues, I think we’re going to find that there’s going to come a point and time when we can’t support a team in a 2,500-seat arena,” he says. “The league is fine as long as we’re paying our bills.”
But it isn’t a level playing field.
Only Swift Current and Prince Albert have buildings that hold fewer than 4,000 people. Three WHL rinks hold 4,000 to 5,000 people, six hold 5,000 to 6,000 and the rest are larger.
The average attendance in the WHL is 4,653 fans per game. As a direct result, the Raiders’ $2.1-million budget is being doubled and likely tripled in some cities.
MacDonald says the Art Hauser Centre meets existing safety standards but simply doesn’t have enough seats.
Even the happy side of that equation could change. New boards will have to be installed at rinks across the league to reduce concussions.
It was those changing standards that helped push the need for a new building in Moose Jaw.  
The idea for a new building to replace the Moose Jaw Civic Centre -- lovingly nicknamed the Crushed Can for its unusual shape -- was first floated in 1999. With the cost of renovations mounting to bring the Crushed Can to league standards, a group of citizens formed in 2004 to champion the construction of a new facility.
Jody Haunta is Moose Jaw’s director of Parks and Recreation. He joined the project in 2005, overseeing the early planning through construction to operations for the City of Moose Jaw.
A referendum in 2006 approved construction of a $36.3-million building. But when that plan was shelved for a bigger facility, a group of citizens sued the city.
The lawsuit was eventually dismissed and the second plan was approved in a subsequent referendum in 2009.
The final tally was $61.3 million, with the provincial and federal governments both kicking in money. The city’s portion of the bill for the 210,000-square-foot building was $24 million.
Haunta says the city tried to be as open and transparent as it could through the process. But he admits it was a battle he could never completely win.
“The reality is, if someone is against the project, I don’t think you will be able to convert or make everyone happy,” Haunta says. “That’s the reality of working in the municipal world. You can’t make everyone happy. You try your best to provide the answers and information and your rationale for making certain decisions, but … not everybody is going to be supportive and not everybody is going to be happy with the decisions that have been made.”
Haunta says that while hard feelings remain, the simple act of sitting in Mosaic Place watching a concert or game has been the biggest healer.
“I think that’s the reality of these projects as well,” Haunta says. “It’s difficult to visualize them until you actually come and sit in the seats and watch an act or a game and see the different experience that you’re having. Is everybody converted? No, I’m not naive enough to think that everybody who was against the project is supportive of the project.”
The league may have never applied any direct pressure on the Raiders but WHL commissioner Ron Robison’s response in 2008 to Moose Jaw’s decision is telling.
“This will enable the Warriors franchise to remain in Moose Jaw and provide an arena which will serve the community and the Warriors hockey club for decades to come,” Robison said in a news release at the time.
After the tour of Mosaic Place, Mayor Greg Dionne and councillors Rick Orr and Mark Tweidt met with the Moose Jaw city manager and other officials for a closed-door discussion on the facility.
Dionne was pleased with the information he received, noting that during the last civic election he campaigned in part on the concept of creating a 10-year facility plan.
He says the civic grant remains $500,000, in part because the city receives all food and beverage sales, half the signage and 10 per cent of ticket sales. The curling rink was built as part of the facility to make it more attractive to conventions and other bigger events.
“One of our priorities when we do a 10-year plan is a leisure pool over the rink,” Dionne says. “Of course, we were thinking, can we build a multiplex together and that’s why we came here ... It’s been a benefit for them to generate revenue.”
Dionne concedes that the price of the design has to be balanced with the pocketbooks of taxpayers but also has to last and accommodate future growth.
“The key is to me, if you build a facility, you build it right and build it for 50 years.”
The Art Hauser Centre turns 50 on Dec. 12, 2021.
McFee says the process has to start somewhere.
“If we start planning today, we couldn’t build this properly in three to five years. That’s a reality,” McFee says. “But we can’t sit in the weeds and expect things to change if we don’t take action.”

By Sarah Stone

paNOW Staff

After a four-hour bus ride from Prince Albert to Moose Jaw, Prince Albert business owners, city officials and Raiders’ board members were ready to explore the city’s multiplex.
The tour of Mosaic Place was given by the facility’s general manager, Scott Clark, in combination with local city officials.
“It’s an impressive facility and that’s why were out fact finding and we’re going to do the best of the best and the worst of the worst,” said Mayor Greg Dionne.
The group of tourists were in awe as they first entered the front doors, where they were confronted with a double staircase amidst a large mural. From there, they were taken around to several modern conference rooms, a large curling rink, lounge areas, arena and box suites.
The main attraction was obviously the arena, which holds 4,065 seats and 21 fixed suites—much larger than the Art Hauser Centre, which contains around 3,000 seats.
“If you’re going to build it you have to build it for the future … don’t build it 4,500 sq. ft. and then in 10-15 years you realize you need a bigger facility,” said Dionne, and he added going bigger will allow larger-scale concerts and events to bring in more revenue.
Clark said as soon as the doors opened in August of 2011, feedback from the Moose Jaw community has been supportive.
“This is a tremendous amount of pride. I mean it took so long to get this project off the ground and make it the reality that it is. When it’s over a 10-year project to make this thing happen the amount of pride that people here in Moose Jaw have is amazing,” Clark said, explaining they’ve had a diverse number of events at Mosaic Place including hockey games, motocross, concerts and curling.
“The building converts extremely well. The market place has supported the diversity of events and it’s just brought so much economic diversity and economic generation to the City of Moose Jaw.”
Director of Parks and Recreation for the City of Moose Jaw Jody Hauta also agrees a great amount of pride comes from the community, but said it wasn’t always an easy sell.
“Obviously with any type of big budget expenditure and a facility of this nature it does create sides or controversy within the community. Certainly there was a proactive front that was very much in favour of the project, as well there was a front that wasn’t for the project,” Hauta said.
The facility cost $53.5 million with around $15 million coming from federal funding, $11.5 million provincially, $10 million coming from fundraising efforts and the remainder provided by the city.
Hauta explained if he had any advice for the Prince Albert visitors it would be to ensure there is enough input from potential user groups and learn from other facilities already in use.
And that is just what president of the Raiders Dale McFee said they are trying to do by reaching out to local business owners and city officials.
“There’s more than one way to obviously fund an arena, we get that. This is the infancy stages; it’s about doing homework, it’s about bringing some of the community folks and some of council and I’m grateful that they’ve come to talk strategy,” McFee said.
He goes on to explain the importance of a new facility goes beyond the hockey club.
“As we look forward and we look for new ways of revenue I think you have to capitalize on such things as playoffs, such things as when you can obviously have the opportunity to fill a rink and to obviously bring in other events to the city as well,” he said, adding currently Prince Albert has the smallest rink in the ever-growing WHL.
McFee stressed this isn’t a debate about balancing a new facility with a new bridge or hospital because those are all very important.
“How do we find those reasonable solutions that make sense not only to our city, to our community, to our citizens, but also to the hockey club and is there a balance and is there a way to strike that balance. So this is just a fact finding mission.”
Walking away a little bit smarter
After the tour, the visiting Prince Albert group was split up to speak with Moose Jaw boards and city officials to ask questions and learn more about what has worked and has not worked for the multiplex.
“One thing that came out loud and clear in this facility and talking to people downtown, because this facility is downtown, is of course is the parking issue,” said Dionne, explain there is an apparent lack of accessible parking space.
Many of the other issues that were brought up were realized after the construction of the building and if dealt with ahead of time, could save some money. These things included board wiring, net save and catwalks.
Despite all the talk and tours, no decisions have been made. Dionne says the same as McFee, telling the public not to get too excited because this is just the planning stage. However, growth is on both their minds and they are looking at their options that will aid Prince Albert in the next 10 years or more.
“At the end of the day the citizens [in] Prince Albert, certainly those that support Raider hockey and those that support general events, gives them the venue to obviously have some of those things come to our community,” McFee said.
For pictures of the tour, visit paNOW’s gallery.
On Twitter: @sarahstone84

By Sarah Stone

paNOW Staff

Prince Albert city officials, Raiders staff and around 30 business owners are loading up on a bus Tuesday to head to Moose Jaw.
The group will be touring Mosaic Place, the city’s multiplex facility, to get a better idea of what a building like that could mean for Prince Albert.
“It’s a brand new rink that the Moose Jaw Warriors have their games in and thanks to the City of Moose Jaw they have a great new facility and we just want to take people here to show them what the facility is like and what it’s done for the Moose Jaw Warriors organization,” said Bruce Vance, business manager and director of marketing for the Prince Albert Raiders.
Some of the members of the business community who will be on the trip include Dean Pellegrini from Leon’s, Ken Burkosky from B & B Asphalt and Fred Matheson from Ted Matheson’s Men’s Wear.
“There’s a really good cross section of businesses that will be present,” Vance said. “They’re invited to just have a look at what the multipurpose facility can do for the economy of community and to help support the major junior hockey team in that city.”
The bus is scheduled to arrive in Moose Jaw around 1:30 p.m. where the group will break for lunch. After that they’ll receive a tour of Mosaic Place from Warriors business manager Corey Nyhagen, Mosaic Place manager Scott Clark and Jody Houta from the City of Moose Jaw.
“They’re excited to go and have a look the rink. We’re going to tour just about every room in the Mosaic Place and show the versatility of the multipurpose facility down there and see the Warriors’ areas,” Vance said.
Matheson admitted he’s never had a chance to see the facility and this would be a good opportunity to see what works for the Moose Jaw community.
“I’m always interested in successful communities and hopefully it’ll make our community more successful. It’s a fact finding mission,” Matheson said, adding a lot of the business owners going have the same philosophy.
“We’re cautiously optimistic I guess is the best way to describe it. We all know that the community needs to grow but it has to be done in the right way, so it’s not a given that we’re not going to build something like this but year’s down the road it may be something to look at.”
Prince Albert city officials, including Mayor Greg Dionne is also on the trip to gather information that will be vital in his 10-year plan for the city. He said a multiplex may be a good way to grow Prince Albert and keep up with the recreational demands, but adds the city needs to do the research first.
After the tour the group will split up. The Raiders staff will join with the Warrior’s staff while Raiders board members separate with the Warrior’s board, Prince Albert city officials will join with the Moose Jaw city officials and the business people will meet with the Moose Jaw business community.
The day will end with the group coming back together to cheer on the Raiders in their game against the Warriors at 7 p.m. before heading home.
Be sure to follow reporter Sarah Stone on Twitter as she tweets live from the tour with updates and pictures.
On Twitter: @sarahstone84

Should a new multiplex be a priority for the city?

POLL: City to tour Moose Jaw multiplex
By Sarah Stone paNOW Staff
Before being elected, Mayor Greg Dionne was outside of the Art Hauser Centretelling the public he wanted to see a new recreational multiplex facility in Prince Albert to take the city into the future.
Now, only a few months after the election, he is researching that option by heading out on a tour of new multiplex facilities around Saskatchewan.
- 53% (68 votes)
- 43% (56 votes)
- 4% (5 votes)
Total votes: 129

Friday, 15 February 2013

It is about community trust

Blog stuff

First I want to say what a huge responsibility you have given me and it is a huge honour to have you place your trust in me. I feel my job is to make sure everyone in our city gets a shared benefit. In other words council attempts to balance everything it can. This includes city services, utilities, arts, sports, culture and safety. A tough job as it is easy to focus on one area and make it your focus.

What it is I am learning: Council is responsible for what we are going to do and when we are going to do it and the how is  up to our experts in management to figure out how.

Good governance states you must respect the offices of mayor and councillors. Even if you disagree you still must respect their issues and concerns. All council is required to support the decision of the whole once agreed to by a favourable vote.

It is my experience that we have dedicated directors, manager, support staff and outside workers. However some in council have stated they do not trust anything administration says or provides. Others state the numbers don’t make sense or the numbers are not correct. Not a very good statement for our councils future. We need to work together and if we cannot trust our information we need to make the changes. When I have questions about the numbers , information was provided and overall have been to my satisfaction. The provincial regulations state we must have a fully audited financial statement by an outside auditor and we do. 

If we are going to have a council that works to the benefit of the community we need to trust our information and follow the decisions of the whole. Without it we will have a council that has no respect from the administration, community, other levels of government or each other. But worse than that we will have employees that are not confident or willing to make the decisions they need to to do their jobs. A slippery slope for councillors to go down. We heard while at SUMA how Lloydminster had a similar problem they took the challenge and surveyed their employees and citizens. Maybe we need to do the same.

Budget process is how we determine our strategic direction and drive the next 4 years. We have a short window to make a difference. We need to leave our city better than we found it last October 24th. It all comes down to attitude and a work ethic that is inclusive not divisive. Some seem bent on building distrust and division. Others are working hard to build and promote a better community. It is about coming up with solutions. I for one am on the side of positive changes. I love our city and want it to be the best it can be.

Our employees: 

Over the last many weeks I have received calls about burnt out lights, bridge dangers, busing, sidewalks, and of course street cleaning.

All these required me to reach the city manager, directors, support staff and then our fantastic outside workers. One issue is an example of how much our city wants to help our citizens. Last weeks snow fall required 2nd avenue West by the mall to be graded many times. Each time ridges were created on the walkway from 13th Street West at Zeller’s parking lot. Many calls came in due to seniors having difficulty with the crossing. Our staff went out and hand shovelled it, not once but many times. See they care about others and it is more than a job , it is because they are really helping others and making a difference. 

Snow warning - spring is coming
Snow is our current enemy and is about to provide us tough times this spring if we get a quick thaw. Our major snow falls are February to April. We are already putting resources and plans in place to help our low laying areas.

Enjoy the warmer weather and have a great Family Day.

Monday, 11 February 2013

Harris May Prince Albert Hero

Harris May 

is our 2013 Citizen of the year and well deserved.

Citizen of the year award was amazing Saturday evening. Harris May 2013 Citizen of the year is a volunteer above all. By the way,  he gets it - you know my talks about downtown renewal. Harris was awarded this due to his tireless volunteer activities. His friends and family showed us why he is an outstanding recipient. Here is the link to both PANow and the major sponsor The Prince Albert Daily Herald. Thanks to another great PA organization the Kinsman Club.

Here is the program: