Editorial – ‘Action Jackson’ seen nowhere

Jeff Burgar

A Slave Lake business person, community builder and perpetual “go-getter,” was once asked why he was in the habit of pressing the provincial government to remove offices from High Prairie and set them up in Slave Lake.

That first question was followed with “Why not Westlock? Or Barrhead? Or Athabasca? Why aren’t you picking on them like you pick on High Prairie?”

His answer came with a grin and a smirk.

“I pick on High Prairie because it’s so pickable.”

Meaning of course, most politicians in and around High Prairie, the Slave Lake entrepreneur figured, did not seem to care much if they lost jobs to someplace else.

That isn’t fair. High Prairie, and Big Lakes County, just like many communities across northern Alberta, has produced many “go getters” over the years and in fact decades. Anybody with half a sense of history would soon know it is a long, long list. Too long in fact. It includes names like Roger Monahan. Dennis Basarab. Denis Peyre, Nick Shybunia, Harold and Diana Oliver, Vic Chodzicki, Karl Boytinck, to mention just a few who left their mark on the community. Every community, if one thinks even for a moment or two, has its fair share of builders.

Some built museums. Some built industries. Some built rodeo grounds and agri-plexes. Some built businesses. Many are still at it.

But, before we get too carried away with passing out ice cream and cherries and patting each other on the back, let’s go back to our first premise. Some communities, at times, just beg to be picked on.

The history of the old hospital land in High Prairie, and the similar history of the huge Treaty 8 First Nations Cup Hockey Tournament, are two very recent examples. Both indicate a complete, utter lack of business sense, imagination, and community awareness from council.

Regarding the hospital land, High Prairie town council penned a list of reasons. The list was printed in this newspaper a few weeks ago. It was an excellent exercise in wordsmithing intended to smooth ruffled feathers in the community. Some call it jargon used to barf up some reasons to decline the purchase of the hospital site. Eleven acres in the center of High Prairie.

For a pittance of $148,000 lock stock and worn-out culvert. No mention was made that council was offered such a resoundingly sweetheart deal. And sat on it for four months without telling anybody. Then found nerve to tell citizens basically, it is against the law to be open and transparent.

But hey people, we are really, really trying!

It has to be said, in November 2022, the High Prairie Chamber of Commerce penned a letter to High Prairie town council. The letter listed several points of discussion for community growth. Among points in the letter:

  1. “Will the public be asked for input into development of the old hospital site in High Prairie?”
  2. “Is the old hospital site going to be a standalone concept, or part of overall future strategic planning of the town?”

Courtesy of a bubble-headed motion from James Waikle, council voted to ignore these, and all the other forward-looking questions in the letter. But we are trying, oh so hard!

Share this post

Post Comment