In her own words: Ward 4 candidate Margaret Duncombe

Margaret Duncombe has entered the race for councillor in Ward 4. Facebook photo.
  1. Council can be divisive and public reaction to controversial decisions critical. How would you handle dissenting opinions on council or public criticism, and can we count on you to respect all opinions, whether you agree or not?

My mother believed that “ children should be seen & not heard”. On the other hand, my father was fascinated to discover what children thought & why. As a result, beginning as a very young child, I was always encouraged to speak my mind freely but only & always with respect! This is a lifelong skill that I have practiced & will continue the do so as a City councillor.

2.   The city is facing several major urgent infrastructure needs, such as the new recreation centre, roads in need of repaving, the central avenue replacement and aging water and sewer infrastructure. How would you prioritize what work needs to be done without breaking the bank? What do you think the top infrastructure priorities are?

The top priorities should be based firstly upon the health of our citizens and upon the “needs verses the wants” of our community. That said, we must capitalize on funding opportunities available from provincial / federal grants, service club donations and other funding opportunities that come our way. For example, the criteria outlined in the federal & provincial recent grant program was a great match to the building of an aquatic centre & recreation complex in Prince Albert. We must learn the priorities of our citizens through a sound public input process, make plans, establish reserves & always be prepared!

3.   One of the biggest line items in the city's budget is the police budget. Do you support increasing or decreasing the police budget? If increasing, where will that money come from? If decreasing, where will it go?

Again, we must capitalize on potential shared funding & partnership agreements that will continue to supplement the funding from our municipal tax base to support the police. Increased or decreased funding would be dependant upon our restrictions / limitations of revenue sources available through our budget process.

4. The city is facing rising rates of crime and poverty. While enforcement is part of the picture, so is prevention, including the most vulnerable. Should the city play a bigger role in fighting poverty and homelessness? If so, how?

Absolutely, the city must play a bigger leadership role in fighting poverty & homelessness. This is our community! This is our jurisdiction! Yesterday I received this message from a ward 4 resident, “ Got my support. Be considerate and thoughtful to all citizens, regardless who they may be and to the unfortunate who don’t have a voice”. I would encourage everyone to watch The Prince Albert Homelessness Video on It sends a strong message on how we can continue to establish partnerships & support those agencies & organizations serving our most vulnerable citizens. The City should take a leadership role in this area.
It has been very encouraging to see the shelter that has just opened up at the Grandstand on the exhibition grounds. It is an excellent example of collaboration and has come about through cooperation among organizations who are doing the right things for the right reasons.

5. The city has come under fire recently for poor communication with residents. Do you see this as a problem? How will you address this?
Yes, I do see 2 way communication as a problem. Case in point is the recent decision taken by council regarding the location of the new aquatic centre & the recreation complex. The citizens of P.A. were not privy to adequate information about the potential sites. They were not given the opportunity to provide their input into the location decision. That is not to say that the best decision may not have been made by council. However, council must be more open & transparent prior to a decision being taken. Given adequate information, the citizens can appreciate & support decisions. But no one likes to be left in the dark.
I would also encourage the City of Prince Albert to explore a more formalized connection between the City & neighbourhood/wards through a community school or community association system. I have worked on behalf of the City of Saskatoon with community school associations in the inner city area. At that time, the mandate of community associations broadened from offering recreation services to providing public input to the city. Addressing issues such as child hunger, social housing & identifying neighbourhood safety concerns fell within their mandate. They were & still are recognized by City council & administration as the voice of their neighbourhood. This system enhanced 2 way communication between the City & the community. This might work here too!

6.   What, to you, is the biggest issue facing the city/ward? What do you propose as a solution?

I believe that negativity toward our community is the biggest issue facing our city. Yes, we have significant challenges such as increasing crime rates, the current state of our downtown & the impact of poverty upon our community. But we cannot allow our attitude to become so negative that we overlook all the positive amenities we share by living in Prince Albert. We are at a “ tipping point” with respect to our attitude.
Let’s celebrate our strengths & our opportunities. Let’s be grateful & kind to each other. Let’s each of us, young & old, take positive steps to make positive change in our City. This is why I want to become a City Councillor.

7. Why should people vote for you?

I made a conscious decision to live, work and retire in PA. I have life & work experience directly related to effective municipal governance. I am honest, thoughtful & sincere. I will be transparent & will seek input & support from members of ward 4.
I will be positive & forward thinking. I look forward to collaborating with my fellow councillors. I will listen, learn & do my very best on your behalf.

  1. What are your plans to improve parks/Little Red? The city has released a Little Red River Park master plan, but it’s many goals could prove costly. Meanwhile, the city’s playgrounds are also in need of an upgrade. Is improving the city’s recreation facilities a priority?

Little Red, as a natural municipal park is an absolute jewel. Our Rotary Trail has just received a provincial award. Our Riverbank is beautiful, Cooke Municipal Golf Course is a gem & the City has identified a plan to replace & refurbish play apparatus & playgrounds throughout the the city. Parks & green space are critical to the health & well being of our community. This has been particularly apparent throughout this pandemic. The trails & parks have been filled with individuals & families walking, hiking, bicycling & playing outdoors! Hopefully we will continue to see people participating in outdoor winter activities in the months ahead.
I fully support the Little Red Master Plan. The City is so fortunate to have volunteer organizations like the Prince Albert Ski Club who run programs & maintain our trails. The Rock & Road Cycling Club is building a new mountain bike skills park & the Prince Albert Rotary Club has chosen the development of an adventure park in Little Red as their centennial project. It is these kind of partnerships between businesses, our service & volunteer organizations that will enable us to see amenities continue to be developed in our park.
This is a priority and will receive my continued support.

COVID-19 might be spiking again, but it won’t be here forever. When this pandemic has passed us by, what role should the city play in helping businesses bounce back.

If nothing else this pandemic has forced us to appreciate what we had & adapt to what we need to do to survive & potentially flourish as we go forward. Some businesses have been hit hard. So too has the City of Prince Albert been hit hard. I look forward to getting a better understanding of what support businesses need from the City. In the meantime, we must support our local businesses by shopping locally & doing whatever is within our means to support them.