Prince Albert city councillor self-isolates, urges council to consider meeting electronically

Ward 5 Coun. Dennis Ogrodnick says he’s feeling fine, but has still decided to self-isolate as a precaution against COVID-19.

Ogrodnick was one of three city councillors who did not attend Monday’s special council meeting at City Hall. He went into self-isolation on Thursday, March 19 and plans to remain there for a two-week period.

“I just think that from now until Easter, we should be really limiting all movement,” he said during an interview on Wednesday. “The virus doesn’t move. It’s people that move, and that’s what’s causing (COVID-19) to spread.”

Ogrodnick said his caution has extended to his other duties as well. He volunteers as the sound man at WHL and Midget AAA hockey games in Prince Albert, but didn’t attend the last Raiders home game as a precaution.

“I just started really washing my hands a lot and being very careful about being in large groups,” he said. “I just was thinking that this was going to be something serious. I don’t want to say I predicted it, but I myself just started being very careful.”

Ogrodnick added that he’s still trying to fulfill his duties as city councillor as best he can while self-isolating. He supports holding future council meetings electronically, but said he’s not going to force the issue.

“I think that is something that’s a good idea. I know other councils are doing it, and so we need to figure out how to do it and then do it,” he said. “I don’t know how to skype or anything like that, so I wouldn’t know how to do all this, but I think that’s the smart way to go, personally. Again, it’s not my call. It’s the call of the mayor and the city clerk.”

Most of Monday’s meeting focused on a number of emergency measures to help Prince Albert residents and city employees negatively affected by pandemic. Ogrodnick said he wishes residents could hear the presentations made during in-camera meetings so they could understand where council was coming from and why they made certain decisions.

He also pushed back on the notion that council isn’t taking action to stop the pandemic’s spread.

“We’re being criticized for not doing anything about COVID-19. Well, we shut down all our facilities. We stopped public meetings, committee meetings, and all that. We’ve done a lot to look after our staff,” he said. “It’s been very compassionate, I think, but not everyone agrees with me.”