In his own words — Ward 2 candidate Dana Dirks

Longtime business manager Dana Dirks is one of four candidates running in Ward 2. -- 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?

If there was only one opinion that mattered, we wouldn’t need 8 councillors and a mayor, we would just need a mayor. Everyone is entitled to an opinion and those opinions can lead to education and learning. We don’t need to always agree, however If we all work together to listen and learn from each other then we will be a fantastic council and the city would be better for it. 

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 recreation complex is already in beginning stages, and it while an expense to the city will provide a massive return on investment. The tourism dollars, the growth of the city that can come with it as things develop can bring instrumental returns in more than just a cash flow level, also a level of pride and joy for the citizens. The paving needs have the 4 million set aside, and actually that number is growing up from the 4 million in cash into that account. The other projects would be major investments and in order to make viable decisions on those we would need to see how long covid carries on for and how we come out financially, then set up the plan for water, sewer and the downtown replacement. 

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?

Right now is simply not the time to reduce the police budget, even if we found some areas we could trim to save, I would replace that right back into the budget to help them with extra resources whether that be more officers or other ideas that create a chance for our officers to be more pro active in the community. 

If it is required more money into the budget right now is something I would be behind, we are at a pivotal time and now is not the time to back off, but to help the community and our officers with more resources. This has to come from other levels of government in some respects even if it’s a cost share program. 

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?

Absolutely as I have previously stated in the chamber of commerce forum/debate we have to do better, we must become a bigger player in this regard. By pairing up with the groups we currently have working in all the fields I just can’t see why we can’t get all the parties together and form a great alliance and help our most vulnerable in their time of need. They are people, our people, we can’t just ask everyone else to handle the problem, we must become more active in giving them a hand up when they need it most. 

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, and I think several of the issuers we are seeing debated could have been largely solved with more transparency. My plan is to be very transparent with quarterly meetings with the ward 2 residents, so they are always up to date and have the facts from their representative. 

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

Right now I would say our biggest issue is a lack of services, and by services I mean all services. Ward 2 has areas that have had virtually zero improvements in the 21 years I have lived in this ward in Hazeldell, that simply can’t continue, we need stronger representation to get these services re assessed. Other services for our homeless and vulnerable, we put up fences and take down benches and cut trees, did the problem go away? We have to tackle it head on and these services simply must improve, we can do better and it will improve our image. 

7) Why should people vote for you?

I have a strong passion for my city, I have a strong business background with negotiation and budgeting skills. I have negotiated multi million dollar contracts and developed multi million dollar budgets, along with managing hundreds of people which allows me to bring a unique skill to the city table of working with all parties to get the best end result. I am a conservative money manager with a compassion for people. I would love to have the honor of giving back to my city!! 

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?

Recreation facilities have to be a priority, they provide the very basics for our kids and adults alike to stay active, healthy and engaged. 

Little Red I see with the potential to be a “destination” rather than a park. Having the restaurant opened now is a start, then the map app, we keep pushing forward with plans and it can become a vital area for tourism to our area.

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?

The biggest thing the city can do is really help push the shop local to the citizens, it would be unrealistic for me to think the city would have the financial means to help every business having a tough time within covid, the city budget will hurt with covid as well. If there is room for it then some tax incentives and leeway could be granted to help ease the burdens the businesses will face.