Long-time Prince Albert city councillor Don Cody put the focus on policing, northern industries and economic recovery as he officially launched his bid for re-election on Monday.
This is just the latest in a long line of campaigns for Cody, who was first elected to office as an NDP MLA in 1971 before moving to municipal politics and becoming mayor of Prince Albert in 1994. He said he agonized over the decision to run again in 2020, but decided to seek another term in Ward 4 after talking with friends, constituents and colleagues.
He said the city faces new challenges thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, but also new opportunities, and he wanted to be a part of the solution.
“Those are the kinds of things I’m thinking of, and while thinking of them, I think ‘can I help?’” Cody said during a brief campaign launch in front of a few friends and colleagues. “If I can help, I certainly think I should, and that’s why I decided to run one more time.”
If elected, Cody said he plans to put more emphasis on developing northern industry, specifically the forestry sector. He said the industry will never recover as long as B.C.-based company Paper Excellence has a non-compete clause for pulp production at the old Prince Albert mill. He wants the City to put more pressure on the provincial government to help find a partner they can work with.
As of January, Paper Excellence was still assessing a potential restart date, but had no firm plans in place. Cody said he’s confident the forestry industry can return to Prince Albert, as long as it gets a little support.
“You have to as the provincial government to give us a hand,” he said. “Is there a road that’s necessary? Is there water that’s necessary for a new facility? Once we get those kinds of things in place, I think (businesses) will come.”
Cody also wants to see more development in the diamond and uranium sector. He said plans for a diamond mine in the Fort a la Corne Forest were coming along slowly but steadily. However, he was less confident about the uranium sector, and took aim at the federal government could do more to promote the industry.
Cody also came out in strong support of Prince Albert’s police department, both from a financial and organizational perspective. Police Chief Jon Bergen received a vote of non-confidence from the police union in July, but Cody said he has absolute confidence in the leadership.
He also rejected any calls to reduce police department funding, something that was a hot topic at city council even before Black Lives Matter protests began following the death of George Floyd in Minnesota.
“I think we’ve got good police (officers),” he said. “I think we’ve got a good chief. I think we’ve got a good deputy chief, and I think we’ve got good sergeants…. It seems to me they’re doing a pretty fair job.”
Cody also reiterated his support for Prince Albert’s controversial Back Alley Access bylaw, which opponents said would lead to racial profiling of Indigenous people. But Cody denied that on Monday, saying residents of all ethnicities supported it, especially those who lived near those alleys.
Cody didn’t hesitate to mix it up with the provincial government during his most recent term on council. He was a fierce critic of their new flood plain standards, and blasted them for closing the STC bus service after more than 70 years of operation.
Although Cody remained diplomatic during his campaign announcement, he took aim at the province again during Monday’s city council meeting, criticizing them for taxing municipalities by charging them PST on major infrastructure projects.
Cody supported the recent plan to purchase property in the southeast corner of the city for a new aquatic and arenas recreation centre. In 2017, he was one of seven councillors to vote in favour of awarding a $700,000 cash grant to developers to build a luxury hotel on 36th Street West. The hotel has yet to open. He also voted in favour of every city budget during his most recent four-year tenure.
Cody joins Blake Edwards and Dennis Ogrodnick on the list of city councillors seeking re-election. Mayor Greg Dionne is also seeking re-election, while current Ward 7 Coun. Dennis Nowoselsky declined to run in his old seat, and instead announced his own campaign for mayor. Former Saskatchewan Party MLA and retired Prince Albert police officer Darryl Hickie is also running for mayor, while former Carlton principal Dawn Kilmer is running to replace Nowoselsky in Ward 7.
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