City admin taking all questions at Wednesday/Thursday community meetings

Residents from Ward 3 gather for a Neighbourhood Meeting in this file photo from September 2015. -- Jason Kerr/Daily Herald

Prince Albert residents will have their chance to grill city administrators on any topic of their choosing at community meetings scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday.

The two meetings replace the older neighbourhood meetings, which were previously held annually in every ward.

City of Prince Albert planning and development director Craig Guidinger said the previous meeting format needed changing because it wasn’t efficient. That’s led to the current model.

“To get all (eight) meetings done over the course of a fairly short period, and having staff available at all of those meetings, was somewhat difficult,” Guidinger said on Monday. “But perhaps most importantly, we found that we were answering a lot of the same questions, no matter which location we were at, so we said, ‘let’s have two meetings, make sure all staff are available, and then everyone can feel free to attend any meeting that they want.’”

Instead of formal presentations, residents will be able to have informal one-on-one conversations with any staff member present. Representatives from the finance, public works, community services, fire, police and planning departments will all be in attendance. All meetings are come-and-go.

“In the past neighbourhood meetings we found that just one-on-one informal dialogue was perhaps the best way of engaging people, so this year we’re kind of going along that route,” Guidinger explained. “It will be an informal meeting.”

Guidinger added that residents were welcome to attend either meeting, regardless of where they live.

While all topics are open for discussion, city employees will be limited in what they can say about a recent proposal to restrict access to back alleys and walkways after midnight.

Guidinger said it’s still early in the process, so administration has only just started their research.

“It is a very preliminary discussion that council’s brought up, so we’re looking into things further and finding out exactly what our areas of responsibility are,” he explained. “We’ll answer the questions as best as we can, but that one in particular will take some time before we have all that research completed.”

The first community meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 9 in Princess Margaret School, located at 351 13th Avenue East. The second will be held on Thursday, Oct. 10 at Arthur Pechey School, located at 2675 Fourth Avenue West. Both meetings run from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.