Community Service Centre pushes back against City of PA ad campaign

Herald file photo. Community Services Centre CEO Bill Powalinsky gives a presentation in this undated Daily Herald file photo.

CEO has board’s full support says CSC vice-chair

Community Service Centre (CSC) representatives have accused the City of Prince Albert of trying to shift the focus away from paratransit services with a new ad campaign.

The ad campaign, which is endorsed by Mayor Greg Dionne, outlines five reasons why the CSC has not received more funding. The campaign also alleges that CSC CEO Bill Powalinsky failed the organization and the general public by not disclosing plans to run for mayor.

This week, CSC vice-chair Shelley Gordon released a statement backing Powalinsky, and reaffirming the need for more funding.

“Don’t let the focus shift away from continued Paratransit services for people with disability,” reads Gordon’s statement. “Our CEO – Mr. Bill Powalinsky, has kept the Board of Directors informed of every operational decision, and is fully supported by the Board of Directors.”

Gordon added that Powalinsky has followed the outline of activities found in “A Citizen’s Guide to Shaping Council Decisions” in an effort to keep the public informed and aware.

In his own statement, Powalinsky said it’s not about personalities or politics, but about “doing the right thing for the right reasons at the right time.”

The most recent print ad appeared on page 16 of the March 9 Daily Herald. In the ad, Dionne and the City criticized how the CSC transportation service was run, arguing that Powalinsky cut transportation hours without The City’s knowledge or permission after receiving $34,050 in new funding to improve Access Transit capacity.

The ad also argued that the lack of a contract agreement made it difficult to talk funding. The ad argues that if a contract was in place, “then we would not be in the situation we are today” because funding amounts and the service required would be clearly established.

In a statement, Powalinsky argued the CSC had been pushing for a multi-year agreement for years, and would welcome such an agreement with open arms.

“It’s not too late for a win-win … for the City and its residents with disability,” Powalinsky’s statement reads.

Powalinsky has been in a wheelchair on and off for the past two-and-a-half years for health reasons. He said he understands the importance of weekend and evening services based on that experience.

The ad campaign comes after the CSC held a press conference in January arguing that the paratransit service faced a funding crisis. The CSC provided 37,145 rides in 2023, an increase of 11,405 from 2022. At budget time, the CSC requested $675,285 from council. That’s a funding increase of $103,521.

Afterwards, Dionne said council would not discuss additional funding until a contract was signed.

“Once we get that contract signed, then we’ll review ’24 because then we’ll have a clear agreement on what they’re supposed to supply and what they’re supposed to deliver and how they’re supposed to spend our money” he said.

Dionne added that he expected to see an agreement done by May 31.

@kerr_jas •