In his own words: Ward 6 candidate Blake Edwards

Ward 6 Coun. Blake Edwards speaks during a Prince Albert city council meeting in 2018. -- Herald file 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?

I have proven that we can disagree in council but move forward on other decisions and work together. Respect is key, we need to remain positive despite differences that will occur with any council. 

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 Recreational Centre is approved and moving forward. I was proud to support this project after receiving $44 million from the Federal and Provincial governments and be able to move phase one forward without adding any additional taxes to our residents. That’s a big win for Prince Albert. We need to keep looking for grants for other project. Money will come available and when it does, we can move forward with these projects. 

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 support our police budget. I believe it’s time the Federal and Provincial Government recognizes Prince Albert as being unique. We have a population unlike most other cities in Canada. We have social issues that need to be addressed and these issues often lead to increased crime.  Many other cities do not have these same concerns. Another issue facing our budget is that our census is not accurate and this needs to be corrected. Many people who live in our city do not declare and therefore our funding is skewed. If corrected, our funding would increase which would help our tax payers in the city by taking pressure off any further increases.  

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?

The city needs to communicate and work with the many groups in the city who are already working at fighting poverty and homelessness. We need to work together and come up with solutions on how we address the current situation and have positive strategies for the future.

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 over the last four years, communication has improved . We approved a new website which is easier to view. We are sending emails to people who request news letters. We have hosted numerous community meetings as a city and myself as a councillor have also personally  hosted meetings. Two of my meetings were to discuss crime and we had the police out to speak as well as SCAN. These were very well attended and our Ward 6 Neighbourhood Watch group formed as a result of these meetings. We now have over 250 people on the group who are all watching over our  Neighbourhood to help reduce crime and it’s working!!
6) What, to you, is the biggest issue facing the city/ward? What do you propose as a solution?

One major in issue in Ward 6 has been the lack of playground improvements for more than a decade. In 4 years, we have seen some minor improvements with added equipment, bike stands and picnic tables. Now, AC Howard Park is destined for $100,000 in improvements and the new Recreational Centre which will include a large aquatic centre will be situated in Ward 6. This recreational centre will also include a Public Library for our children, seniors and all other people to enjoy for years to come!!!

7) Why should people vote for you?

I listen to the people in Prince Albert and represent their voices. As noted by a well respected resident, Arne Lindberg:

“Blake has provide sound judgement and clear decision making during his first term in council. He has worked hard for all of P.A, ensures our voices are heard, respected and acted upon”.

I believe this quote to be true. I have a passion for our city, to make our city the best possible place to live for all of our residents. Community Safety, Communication, Recreation and tax fairness are all very important. I can help lead our city because I listen to the people, no matter who you are or how old. Opinions matter to me.

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 was proud to support a 300% increase to the parks budget. Our playgrounds were left for decades and have fallen out of date. Improvements have started across the city including Ward 6. AC Howard Park is included in this year budget for a $100,000 improvement. Carlton Park Community Club is being considered for basketball courts and pickle ball courts. Many picnic tables and bike stands have been added. The old garbage cans replaced with modern bins that keep garbage in. Little Red finally has a plan. Not all improvements can be done at once but improvements have already occurred over the last 4 year and working with the other groups like the cross country ski club is important.  Little Red is a jewel to our community and we must take care of this park!!

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?

We must work with our businesses. Discuss ideas and ensure they have support from the city. Communication will be key to determine what help is required and what we can do to make things happen.