South Peace News
Calling it a downloading of the Government of Alberta’s responsibility, High Prairie town council narrowly denied sponsoring a room in the new Northern Lakes College Campus in High Prairie.
The decision was reached in 3-2 vote at council’s Aug. 27 meeting.
NLC requested council sponsor a room for $100,000 for its capital project in the building, currently being constructed in the town’s east end.
“We’re a small town, it’s the Province’s responsibility,” said Councillor Michael Long.
He added council could not afford the request from NLC.
“You go get it from somewhere else, knowing that we can’t afford it. I know the programming is important but we can’t afford it,” Long concluded.
Long was also not impressed the letter from NLC president and CEO Ann Everatt was addressed to deputy mayor Brian Martinson. In fact, Martinson is the CAO.
Councillor Brian Gilroy was first concerned Mayor Brian Panasiuk was discussing the issue with Everatt as outlined in her letter.
“Thank you so much for meeting with me …” wrote Everatt referring to Panasiuk and Martinson.
“I see that as a conflict,” said Gilroy.
Panasiuk excused himself from the debate at council’s meeting.
Councillor Debbie Rose offered a different view in supporting the request.
“I think this is about retention,” she said. “I hear what you’re saying, Michael, there are so many times we hear it [downloading].”
But the benefit of supporting a facility that offers local training for local jobs was key in Rose’s support.
The problem of where council would find the money without raising taxes also arose. Taking it from their sponsorship budget would leave less for community organizations.
Martinson told council such a sponsorship would be “investing in our kids”.
Rose persisted in her support saying the money would enable the college to offer better programming.
“Here is our opportunity,” she said.
Councillor Donna Deynaka also supported the request saying council lobbied hard to get the building.
“Here’s our chance … to support the college in a way that benefits the community,” she said.
“It’s going to draw people, people will come to take these courses.
“I think we need to support them.”
Martinson suggested the money could come from reserves, which treasurer Terri Wiebe described as “healthy right now”.
Gilroy, Long, and Judy Stenhouse voted against the motion with Deynaka and Rose in favour. Councillor Arlen Quartly was absent.
Big Lakes County supported NLC’s request for the $100,000 at its Aug. 14 meeting.