RM of Buckland reeve Don Fyrk wasn’t surprised by Prince Albert city council’s decision to start charging non-residents to use indoor and outdoor City-owned facilities, but he was disappointed.
Fyrk said the City has been “hinting at this for years” before council voted in favour of it at budget meetings in late November. However, he said that doesn’t make it any less frustrating.
“I don’t know why they think the RM should be responsible for their debts,” Fyrk said. “I really don’t. There’s extra monies they want to tack on for people who are outside this city, like a user fee, but the sad thing about the whole thing this is a lot of people who live in the RMs have properties in the city, (and) they have businesses in the City.”
City of Prince Albert inside workers are one step closer to heading back to work after CUPE 882 union members voted 81 per cent in favour of accepting a new tentative agreement in late November.
The new agreement includes an eye care coverage package, a staggered 11 per cent wage increase over four years, and a salary supplement process designed to help hire new workers in hard to recruit positions.
“The last several months have been very challenging, and I am glad we have been able to find a resolution within our original mandate,” Mayor Greg Dionne said in a press release. “I would like to thank the citizens of Prince Albert for their patience and support throughout this process as the City worked to limit tax increases.”
Downtown Prince Albert came alive with festive cheer as close to 1000 visitors gathered outside City Hall on Tuesday, December 5, to witness this year’s Tree Lighting Ceremony. The event illuminated the city with a breathtaking display of over 8,000 Christmas lights, generously sponsored by Beau “Lac” Funeral Home.
Marianne Turcotte, co-owner of Beau “Lac” Funeral Home, said the response from the community was overwhelming.
“We were immensely surprised and delighted at the turn out, thinking possibly a few hundred may attend,” she said, adding that they are grateful to everyone for their participation and support.
A Prince Albert school tipi damaged in an act of vandalism is looking good as new following a donation from a local business.
Northern Lights Casino stepped in to help Westview Public School after their outdoor tipi was damaged in an act of vandalism earlier this year. The casino replaced the canvas last week, with the Prince Albert Police Service acting as intermediary.
Westview vice principal Matt Bergen thanked the casino for their donation, and Prince Albert police for going the extra mile to make it happen.
“The constable in charge contacted the casino, reached out to them and once they heard that, they said immediately said, ‘we would love to replace that for them,’” Bergen explained. “They found out who we purchased it from previously, did all the leg work, called them, got a new one made, and brought it to our school.”
The Prince Albert YWCA’s efforts to provide emergency shelter received a big boost on Dec. 1 thanks to a $25,000 donation from the Malcolm J. Jenkins Family Foundation.
The funds will go towards its cold weather housing programming. The YWCA currently operates more than a dozen locations across the city that provide emergency shelter, medium-term shelter, and addictions and mental health housing
“We were just over the moon,” YWCA Fund Development Officer David Hambleton said when asked about the donation. “The jaw drops. Malcolm has been a big supporter for many, many charity organizations, good causes, and just positive things for our community. His support has always been deeply appreciated by the YWCA, and it goes a long way to help us provide the best service and supports that we can for the vulnerable community members, especially the homeless, at this time of year.”
The City of Prince Albert’s new agreement with municipal inside workers passed quickly at the Dec. 11 council meeting, although there was some debate about the vote itself.
The vote on Item 11.14 began with Coun. Terra Lennox-Zepp telling council she was not declaring a conflict of interest, and would be voting on the agreement. That declaration led to Mayor Greg Dionne calling for a two-minute sidebar with City Clerk Sherry Person.
After the sidebar, Dionne told council the City had received independent legal advice that Lennox-Zepp was in a conflict of interest. Lennox-Zepp, however, said she had received her own legal advice, and was confident she could vote.
Lawyers for a former RCMP officer accused of first-degree murder argued the killing was haphazard, panicked, and “extremely unplanned” during closing arguments at the Court of King’s Bench on Dec. 13.
Darren Kraushaar, the lawyer representing former Prince Albert RCMP officer Bernie Herman, described the circumstances leading up to the shooting of 26-year-old Braden Herman, no relation, as a “comedy of errors” during his closing remarks. Meanwhile, Crown Prosecutor Jennifer Schmidt focused her remarks on the credibility of Bernie Herman’s testimony, arguing other evidence like text messages, social media messages, and testimony from Herman’s fellow police officer and friend, Staff Sgt. Chad McLeod, were more reliable..
The Prince Albert Grand Council (PAGC) expected to distribute 3,500 hampers for the less fortunate from the former site of the Allen Bird Gym on Dec. 19 and 20.
PAGC Executive Director Al Ducharme said the PAGC wants to serve those in need during the holiday season, and hampers fill the biggest need.
“We recognize that they need help,” Ducharme said. “We work with these people all day—with the homeless, with the needy, with the poor and with those who are in need of help of many things in life.”
The idea began as a small distribution of items a decade ago. Since then, Ducharme said, the need has only grown.
It looked like there would be no Community Christmas Dinner in Prince Albert this year but then a Christmas miracle happened.
Isabelle Impey the longtime organizer of the Community Christmas Dinner was able to put together a delivery and take-out version for 2023, which took place at the PAGC Cultural Centre, the former Parkland Hall on Christmas Day.
Impey had planned on retiring after the 2022 version, which was hosted at Ecole St. Mary High School.
Impey explained that she was getting phone calls from loyal volunteers saying that nobody had stepped up to take her place.
“And I said ‘Well, I guess we have to do something’. And I said, ‘I can’t spend a good Christmas knowing we have all these people out there that are hungry’. And I had hoped someone younger would take over because well I’m 80,” Impey said.
“I guess I’ve got a lot of people fooled.”
Those were the words from Lakeland Saskatchewan Senior Fitness Association (SSFA) president Barry Brezden after being named Prince Albert’s 2023 Citizen of the Year.
Brezden received news of the nomination shortly before the Lakeland SSFA board was scheduled to meet. He said being named Citizen of the Year was a “super huge honour” but also an unexpected one.
“You have to put one person’s name on a paper, but it really isn’t one person who makes it all happen,” he said. “Congratulations to my team and all my partners…. That’s who makes it go.”
After making history, the Ecole St. Mary Marauders volleyball teams had a special delegation at the Prince Albert Catholic School Division board of education meeting on Dec. 4.
The coaching staffs of Shaun Hunko and Kianne Dallman for the 5A provincial champion girls’ Marauders ad Rene Quintal, Nathan Noble and Mark Phaneuf for the 5A provincial champion boys’ Marauders presented the board of education with a framed photo of both teams.
“They just thanked the board for the support for student engagement in our school division,” education director Lorel Trumier said. “It was very touching to the board to hear that response and the accolades being thrown back at them for the work that they have done to really try to support our students.”
The teams won the titles in Prince Albert on Nov. 18 in Prince Albert.
It was announced in December that Stryker Zablocki was headed to Switzerland in the new year.
The 16-year-old Prince Albert product was named to the Women’s U18 National Team that will compete in the 2024 IIHF U18 Women’s World Championship in Zug, Switzerland from Jan. 6-14.
Zablocki says she was ecstatic when she heard the news that she had made the team.
“I was super excited. It’s a once in a lifetime experience. I made a lot of good buddies on the team in the summertime, so getting to spend lots of time with them in Switzerland is going to be super fun as well.”
It will be a night under the bright lights for both Ryder Ritchie and Tanner Howe in January as the pair are off to the CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game in Moncton, New Brunswick on January 24.
“It felt good to find out,” Ritchie said in a Raider press release. “It was one of my goals coming into this season to be a part of the top prospects game, and it’s definitely an honour. I can’t wait to be able to represent myself and represent the Prince Albert Raiders.”
Both Ritchie and Howe are listed by NHL Central Scouting as ‘A’ grade players, meaning they are projected to be taken in the first round of the 2024 NHL Draft in Las Vegas.
On Craig Button’s 2024 NHL Draft rankings released on Nov. 30, Ryder Ritchie comes in at number 20 while Howe is listed at number 45.
After weeks of preparation, members of the Broadway North Youth Company are ready to take audiences on a journey under the sea.
The local youth theatre group opens their newest musical, The Little Mermaid Jr., at the E.A. Rawlinson Centre on Dec. 1. The musical is based on the Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale, but draws heavily from the popular Disney animated version, which includes the popular Academy Award-winning song “Under the Sea”.
Show director Roxanne Dicke said the company last performed The Little Mermaid Jr. roughly 10 years ago, and the creative and production team felt it was a good time to bring it back.
“We had the right cast this year for that show,” Dicke said. “It offers a lot of great featured roles, so I think that’s really important because you want to fuel the entire company.”
The Big Noise Youth Choir has been together for nearly a year and now some members have the opportunity of a lifetime.
Eight members of the Choir will be performing as part of a larger choir at Carnegie Hall in New York City in May. All eight members had to audition individually.
To thank the Prince Albert Optimist Club for all of their support to get them there, the Choir performed at the Optimist Winter Wonderland on Saturday afternoon.
Lauren Lohneis, director of the Big Noise Youth Choir, said some members of the choir didn’t want to audition because of financial challenges. She told members they would find ways to help them get there.
The choir approached several organizations and held fundraisers like selling Canadian Tire gift cards.
“We approached the Optimist Club and they sponsored some of our participation in the Carnegie Hall performance,” Lohneis explained. “We knew this was coming up and we wanted to give back to them and their organization. They invited us to come and sing and that was an easy yes.”
The choir will do a three-day residency in Carnegie Mall beginning on May 29 before the big concert on June 1.