Council approves shortlist for five spots on new PREDA board

Prince Albert city council has officially approved the shortlist for five open Director-at-Large positions on the new Prince Albert Regional Economic Development Alliance (PREDA).

Shortlist members Gordie Broda, Dan Yungwirth, Sharon Hopkins, Lynn Jansen, April Roberts-Poitras, Allan Webb and Matthew Vermette were selected from among 18 applicants at a special council meeting on Monday. Of those seven, five will be appointed Directors-at-Large during a PREDA board meeting on May 21.

Mayor Greg Dionne said they’re pleased with the list of candidates, and with how well the project’s proceeding.

“This is the right time to be doing it,” Dionne said shortly after Monday’s vote. “The economy, it seems like it’s turning around. We’re getting more activity, so now with this new group in place and a new executive director, we should be able to move forward pretty good with economic development when it comes along.”

There was one major change from the original seven-person list that was presented to council on April 29. Shellbrook businesswoman Yvonne Groenen was removed and replaced with Dan Yungwirth after some council members said they preferred to have someone with closer connections to Prince Albert.

Dionne said Groenen was “more than qualified” to be on the list, however her area of residence proved to be a “sticking point.”

“Shellbrook automatically got representation with their membership,” Dionne explained. “(Council) just felt that was enough to represent Shellbrook and area. They wanted someone from a different area. That’s what it was about: to be more inclusive.”

The City of Prince Albert, Town of Shellbrook, Rural Municipalities of Buckland and Prince Albert, Muskoday First Nation and Peter Ballantyne Development LP will all automatically receive one PREDA director position. A tourism sector representative will fill also fill one position.

The seven-member shortlist passed by an 8-1 vote. Ward 2 Coun. Terra Lennox-Zepp was the lone dissenter.

Lennox-Zepp said the shortlist selection process wasn’t clear enough for her liking.

“My concern is that we as city council have never created any criteria in terms of what we would be looking for in those positions,” she said. “We received 18 applications from very highly qualified individuals in our community. We recommended seven of those and we did that without any listed criteria. That is as concern for me.”

The Director of Planning and Development Services, the Economic Development Coordinator and Communications Manager and the Mayor selected the shortlist. All 18 applications are considered confidential because they contain personal information.

“I would say that if we want to have quality results in such a board that we should put some thought into why we are choosing some names over others when we have more qualified applicants than we had spots,” Lennox-Zepp said.

When asked about the selection process, Dionne said he was confident they went about it the right way.

“The department looked at skills,” he said following the meeting. “We didn’t make it a popularity contest. We didn’t pick (candidates) because we knew (them). It was skills…. It was to get a wide berth of experience so that we can move it forward.”

PREDA was created to help spur sustainable growth in the Prince Albert area. The alliance’s priorities are listed as regionalism, developing a marketing strategy, completing and implementing an Economic Development Strategic Plan and aiding collaborative planning with all levels of government in P.A. and area.