Editorial – Pathetic!

Chris Clegg

That’s the best you’ve got!

High Prairie town council has experienced plenty of lows the last few months but the April 23 meeting has to rank as one of the worst.

Alberta Union of Public Employees vice president Sandra Azocar attended expressing concern over the potential permanent closure of the old High Prairie Youth Assessment Centre, now called the High Prairie Campus Based Treatment Centre.

The Alberta government says it is studying a possible reopening of the centre after last year’s fire, but AUPE contends a reopening is unlikely.

At stake here is 30 full time jobs. At an estimated $50,000 each which is $1.5 million lost to the local economy. Add to that the youth who desperately need the centre for treatment and you have an extremely valuable facility located in High Prairie.

Azocar asked council if they had done anything. What did Mayor Brian Panasiuk say?

“We’ve lobbied a little!”

What a crass, laissez-faire attitude!

With all respect to Panasiuk, this is a big issue. A very big issue. Lobby a little! You must be joking!

Just as appalling is not one member of council attending cared enough to straighten Panasiuk out. You can give a pass to councillors Sacha Martens and Judy Stenhouse, who are brow-beaten by council many times when they speak.

But where were councillors Donna Deynaka, John Dunn, Therese Yacyshyn and James Waikle?

Need even more confusion? Dunn asked Azocar if she had a “template” meaning a fact sheet that could assist council in writing letters.

The problem is, Panasiuk later said he had correspondence with Lesser Slave Lake MLA Scott Sinclair about the matter. Not the premier, or Children’s Services minister, but only Sinclair. Why not talk to or write everyone? Make a big stink! Not a great effort! “Lobbied a bit” was the sordid truth.

The next question is, why did Panasiuk not tell council he had done this, or at least shared the response with the rest of council? Was this not important enough for council to know?

Panasiuk replied in an email he did share the matter with council. Then why was Dunn asking the questions he did at council? Why did not one other councillor at the meeting tell Dunn that Panasiuk had shared that information?

Even more confusion arises. Panasiuk was written an email on March 21 informing him of the situation. South Peace News and other parties in government were sent a copy. Yet, this matter was not deemed important enough to be placed on the April 8 agenda 19 days later after Panasiuk received the email. Dunn was obviously not told, Martens has written a letter asking why she was not told, and Stenhouse was not told. Deynaka is on record as not being told. Other councillors are not answering the question.

Why was this email not shared with the entire council? South Peace News has asked a copy of the email be forwarded to prove the entire council was told. We are still waiting.

Azocar writes in a letter to the editor on page 7 this week that High Prairie deserves better.

Regarding this putrid effort from the mayor in keeping the youth treatment facility in High Prairie, we echo her sentiment.

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