Former P.A. mayor Stiglitz passes away at 66

Former Prince Albert mayor Jim Stiglitz, pictured, has passed away at the age of 66. -- Submitted photo.

Friends and colleagues are remembering Jim Stiglitz as a down-to-earth man who loved his community. The former Prince Albert mayor passed away on Thursday at the age of 66.

Stiglitz was first elected as a city councillor in 1994 and ran successfully for mayor in 2003, and also volunteered his time for numerous community events such as the Prince Albert Winter Festival.

Former city councillor Lee Atkinson remembered Stiglitz as a friendly and respectful colleague who cared deeply about the people he represented.

“He’s a fellow I would consider a friend, and I’ll miss him,” said Atkinson, who served five terms in council, one of which came during Stiglitz’s term as mayor. “He was a good guy, a down-to-earth guy.”

Stiglitz’s one term as mayor was full of peaks and valleys. In Prince Albert, he championed plans to combat drug and alcohol addictions, particularly Crystal Meth, and soon became known across Saskatchewan for leading the fight for a Provincial Crystal Meth Prevention Strategy. He also oversaw the city’s centennial celebrations in 2004 and began lobbying for a second bridge and a new soccer centre.

Jim Stiglitz celebrates with supporters after being elected mayor in this front page photo from the Prince Albert Daily Herald’s Oct. 23, 2003 edition. Stiglitz passed away on Thursday, July 4 at the age of 66. — Photo courtesy of John M. Cuelenaere Public Library.

However, his toughest challenges were yet to come. In 2005, U.S. forestry giant Weyerhaeuser rocked the community by closing the Prince Albert pulp mill, a move that cost nearly 700 jobs.

Stiglitz was shocked by the decision, but approached the new challenge with determination.

“We are from Prince Albert. We are from Saskatchewan,” he told Canadian Press at the time. “We’ve faced these kinds of things before (and) we’re still here.”

“(He was) very much representative of this community,” Atkinson remembered. “There was no substantial ego or arrogance there.”

Although Stiglitz’s failed to win re-election in 2006, he continued to be active in the community. His most prominent role was the one-year term he served as Prince Albert Winter Festival president, something the festival’s supporters consider vital to keeping the event alive.

Under Stiglitz’s presidency, organizers were able to negotiate a new deal with the Prince Albert Exhibition board to keep things going. Current festival president Barry Mihilewicz said that wouldn’t have happened without Stiglitz’s leadership.

“The winter festival was basically done,” Mihilewicz said. “They were tens of thousands of dollars in debt…. The P.A. Winter Festival owes a great debt of gratitude to Jim Stiglitz for stepping in when he did.”

The City of Prince Albert offered their condolences and recognized Stiglitz’s contributions on numerous municipal boards in a short statement issued on Friday. Those contributions include representing Prince Albert on the Northern Lights Community Development Corporation board, and at the Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association. He also chaired the Race Relations and Social Issues Committee, and served on the Joint Planning Committee with Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation.

“It is with sadness that we learned of Jim’s passing,” Mayor Greg Dionne said in the statement. “He served Prince Albert for many years.”

A celebration of life will be held on July 13 at the Royal Canadian Legion in Melville.