Editorial – Meal malady

Chris Clegg

Town of High Prairie Councillor James Waikle has opened a door many might have preferred to keep locked tight.
At council’s July 26 meeting, they agreed to invite Alberta Health Services North Zone Medical Director Dr. Brian Muir to a meeting Aug. 17. Tentatively, depending on Dr. Muir’s schedule, the meeting will start at noon. The next obvious question was, “Should we bring in lunch?”
“The usual, Subway?” asked interim CAO Hermann Minderlein.
“We’ll talk,” replied Waikle.
The matter was dropped.
It begs questions. Just what is Waikle’s issue? Is there is a problem?
And, perhaps most importantly, why did Mayor Brian Panasiuk and the rest of council not question Waikle what the issue was? Did they already know? Did they not care? Why were they willing to let this concern be discussed behind closed doors instead of an open forum?
Waikle has since admitted his lapse in judgment, but his reasons are honourable. In part, he wrote the following July 27:
“. . .this should have been talked about in the open and for that I do apologize. What I wanted to bring up was that council should make sure that we support all of the local food establishments in town. So instead of lots of Subway we could rotate through and make sure that we have meals provided from Amiro’s, Boondocks, A&W, Burger Baron, Orion, Brandy’s, KFC and other places that I have missed on this list and that will open in the future. Again, not trying to hide anything, just wanted to make sure that everyone gets a fair shake.”
Keeping in mind council can never be entirely “perfect” when it comes to being fair, they should at least try. Minderlein’s comment that the “usual” is Subway suggests council has tended to give more of its business to one food establishment than others. It is further supported by Waikle’s statement “lots of Subway” regarding meals.
Perhaps council should send a quick note to all businesses asking what meal they can provide and at what cost. It is silly to suggest steak be provided instead of a submarine sandwich, but as long as the food offered is close in price, so be it. The idea of rotating meals is fair as long as the price is similar.
Or, set a budget per meal, tender the meals and let the lowest bidder reap the rewards. Then no business can complain they were not at least given a chance.
Or, just keep a running tab for each restaurant and try to keep the total as even as possible.
Providing the odd inexpensive meal is one of the perks of council. If Dr. Muir’s schedule says noon is best for him, a sub, soup and sandwich, pizza, or “meal deal” is not out or order. It never hurts to feed your visitor. Everyone feels good after a decent lunch.
This newspaper has requested a list of all meals, the cost and date provided since the October 2021 municipal election. Let’s find out together if Waikle’s concerns are justified.
Stay tuned!

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