In her own words: Ward 7 candidate Diana Wooden

Diana Wooden is seeking the Ward 7 council seat in November's municipal election. Submitted 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?

Naturally when a group of people gather together to discuss issues there will be differing opinions. There are going to be topics that some are more passionate about than others and therefore; might lead to dissention within council. I believe that the people of the city have a right to see a council that is driven by passion to do the right thing for our city and make decisions that benefit the people of Prince Albert and not on individual egos. My responsibility to the people of this city is to do my best to advocate for what is in the best interest of our citizens. I have been a part of several committees and boards and have been privy to many points of view that I did not necessarily agree with, but respected and understood that each member has a right to voice their opinions. I am not afraid of asking question and getting clarification so that I can support, or not, the issue at hand.

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?

I believe that the current council and mayor have been addressing most of these issues right now and I’m not privy to what they have made a priority. I believe that a new council and possible new mayor would review these ideas. I believe that the plan of a new recreation facility for our city is a solid one and something very necessary for our young/teen population to benefit from. I have also seen many streets in my ward that are in desperate need of repair. I will admit that I don’t know enough about what the city is looking at addressing at this time, but am willing to learn all that I can.

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?

I believe in supporting our police force by increasing their budgetary needs. As I’ve canvased ward 7 I have heard citizens state that they have been the victim of either their car being broken into or a home invasion or petty theft. We need our police members patrolling more and being more visible in an effort to be a deterrent for crime. We have a high transient population in Prince Albert as well and we need to account for this when thinking of the police budget. Since I am new to the political arena, I don’t know the ins and outs of where the city could make cuts and how we can free up dollars. This is something that I will have to educate myself on as I sit at this table.

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

I believe that we have an obligation to make every effort to support our more vulnerable population. When peoples basic needs are met such as food, shelter, security they can then strive to achieve higher goals for themselves and their families. People who are homeless are more prone to become victims of crime or turn to alcohol or drug use to cope. This can perpetuate a cycle for this population. More supports need to be in place to help people who are struggling. There is a gap in services for vulnerable youth right now in Prince Albert. If they are 16/17 and on their own, they have a very hard time finding places to live. I am very excited that the city approved for YWCA and Homeward Bound to provide more cold weather shelter for our homeless community, but I believe that this should be something permanent in order to support this population.

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?

I believe that communication is key in any organization. It’s important to have an open system that allows for questions and answers and is very fluid, rather than a closed system where information only flows one way. The people of Prince Albert have businesses here, pay taxes here are raising their families here and deserve to be heard and have their concerns taken seriously. I support open and truthful conversations with our residents.

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

I believe that one of the big issues facing Prince Albert right now is that we are viewed as a violent city with rampant drug and alcohol problems. Prince Albert is not seen as a destination city, but rather somewhere where people drive through to get to the lakes and such. I believe that we can rebuild the reputation of our city, by providing safety for our citizens, and attractions that can draw people in. I believe that “beautifying” Prince Albert is a good start and that it’s important to listen to the people of our wards and encourage them to take an active part in their neighborhoods as well.

7) Why should people vote for you?

I want to make Prince Albert a better place to live. I want to help encourage growth and pride within this city. I want to encourage people of color and visible minority groups to have a voice in our city, build businesses in our city and stay in Prince Albert. I want people to know my name and my face and know that they can call me, stop me, and talk to me about anything and I will listen and try my best to support what they need. I want people to know that because I have lived in ward 7 for 20 years I have an understanding of who the people are and the variety of needs within our ward.

8) What are your plans to improve parks/Little Red? The city has released a Little Red River Park master plan, but its 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?

I do agree that the city needs to put some funds into upgrading some parks for our younger population. I have seen a great improvement in Kinsmen Park over the last few years. I know that something like that has to be done in stages since there isn’t an infinite amount of resources, but it is something that the city should take a look at.

9) 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?

COVID-19 has devastated many businesses and livelihoods around the world. I know of a few small business owners who are struggling to keep their business afloat. I believe that the city should look at each individual case and see what options can be offered to business owners. I believe that our provincial government should allocate funds as well to help our city, help its citizens. I will advocate for tax reliefs or delayed payments where it is appropriate to do so. Keeping these small businesses open means more growth and opportunity for our city.