An inside look at Prince Albert’s newest subdivision

With an estimated 75 per cent of The Yard already sold and the remaining lots in high-demand, Signature Developments’ Rusty Clunie and Cherise Arnesen took the Herald on a tour of what Prince Albert’s future entertainment district looks like so far.

Arnesen believes creating a brand for Prince Albert as Canada’s greenest, most park-filled city is an integral part of ensuring it is known as a thriving community where families want to stay.

“You can play in the lakes, you can play in the north, and soon you’ll be able to come play in The Yard,” said Arnesen.

Big things are coming to Prince Albert, said Clunie.

The expansion of the Victoria Hospital and the forestry industry being reintroduced to the area are major economic opportunities, but creating a pathway for the City’s youth to things like sports and entry-level jobs is just as big of a need for the community.

“[That’s] the way we keep crime under control, the way we give future to lots of kids around town… They need opportunity,” said Clunie.

For a community to grow, it must attract people to move, work, and be part of the industries that call the area home – and that’s where The Yard District comes in.

“This is such a fresh start for opportunity. Rather than moving too far away from your homes in the north, this now means you can be closer to home in your comfort space, have opportunity and grow and do things with your life,” said Clunie. “We’re on a generational change for Prince Albert and it’s so inspiring for everyone; that’s the reality.”

While planning Prince Albert’s newest subdivision, Signature Developments made sure to include an extensive walkable paved pathway system throughout the area, so that all of The Yard’s future amenities will be that much more accessible.

The walking path will also connect to the Rotary Trail, expanding it by an entire two kilometers.

Signature Developments has plans for a park on the southern edge of the district, as well as an urban campground with space for 42 RVs surrounding a small lake nearby.

Clunie likened the development to the Gordon Howe Campground in Saskatoon and while there is still a ways to go before the lake is finished, the grounds should begin to take more shape towards the fall.

A gas station, grocery store, various eateries and restaurants, a coffee shop, car dealership, office buildings, strip malls, and hotels are just a few businesses that will be calling The Yard District home in the near future.

There are a few parcels of land that have not yet been officially claimed, but negotiations are well underway and Clunie predicts they will be sold out within the next several months.

Looking forward to the years to come, the grassy field to the far east of The Yard may be developed into a new residential neighborhood. One of Clunie’s priorities is bringing in nice, but affordable housing in the $300,000 to $400,000 range to accommodate younger families.

“The boom that we’re talking about with all these jobs coming, we’re going to be able to entertain people and we’re going to be able to house people,” he noted.

According to Clunie, the City of Prince Albert’s facilities in The Yard District are expected to be operational by the end of 2024, along with around 70 per cent of the other developments planned so far.

Multicultural Council puts out call for youth leaders in Prince Albert

The Prince Albert Multicultural Council (PAMC) is searching for local youth who are interested in making a difference in the community as part of their new Multicultural Youth Ambassador Program.

Interested youth participants who apply for the program will be given the opportunity to pitch initiatives or projects that focus on topics like reconciliation, anti-racism, diversity, inclusion, democratic engagement and strengthening youth resilience in the community.

“This is the very first time we’re coming out with this program, but we are planning to continue from this year onwards,” said PAMC Youth Coordinator Komal Saxena.

Projects can take the form of video productions, social media campaigns, hosting a cultural art gallery, or creating a program that will be added to PAMC’s list of future events and activities.

The only catch is that the youth-led initiative must have a budget not exceeding $5,000, which will be fully covered by the PAMC. Mentorship, project management and leadership training will also be provided as part of the program.

After completion of their respective community projects and a public showcase, the participants of the Youth Ambassador Program will go on to make up the PAMC’s Youth Council.

“For PAMC, it’s very important to really engage with the youth so that they get an opportunity and [some] exposure to really go out and do some good work for the community,” said Saxena.

“We need to have our own youth ambassadors for Prince Albert, so that activities and cultural events can take place with the help of youth.”

The PAMC held their first few meetings for the program in May, which saw a turnout of around 12 diverse Prince Albert and area youth from various “interesting” backgrounds, said Saxena.

Applications for the Youth Ambassador Program are still ongoing and local youth between the ages of 16 to 30 years old are invited to join in.

Those who believe they have a strong project idea or youth-led initiative that would be perfect for the PAMC are asked to call 306-922-0400 to register.

Provincial Auditor says more than 60 per cent of calls to Social Services go unanswered

A newly released report from Provincial Auditor Tara Clemett shows that 64 per cent of the 255,000 total calls received by the Saskatchewan Income Support (SIS) program over a six month period went unanswered.

The findings were included in Clement’s auditors report on the Ministry’s processes, which was released on Tuesday. Monthly results showed that only 48 to 66 per cent of SIS calls were addressed in 20 minutes or less, according to the report.

Six recommendations to the Ministry have been made in order to improve access for individuals looking to apply for SIS benefits, including making computers available at all Social Services offices, offering sufficient in-person assistance with the SIS application process, and consistently providing a call-back function.

“People experiencing difficult circumstances in struggling to meet their basic needs require clear and accessible ways to apply for income assistance,” Clemett said in a press release.

“Offering SIS clients with an appropriate balance of reliable and service-oriented supports provides them with the resources needed to improve their lives by reducing poverty, and promoting their progression to self-sufficiency.”

According to the report, while the Ministry typically assesses SIS applications within five business days around 90 per cent of the time, “it has yet to sufficiently identify, analyze and address a number of key barriers about SIS.”

These barriers include accessibility, a lack of streamlined client support and missed client appointments with Ministry planning and support specialists.

Clemett has also asked that the Ministry periodically analyze data about SIS client evictions and unpaid utility bills so that strategies to address them may be developed, offer timely case planning supports and schedule regular meetings with SIS clients to follow up on their individualized case plan goals.

Other recommendations include referring SIS clients to proper supports like employment services and counselling when appropriate and implementing further performance measures to assess SIS’s effectiveness.

“Offering SIS clients with an appropriate balance of reliable and service-oriented supports provides them with the resources needed to improve their lives by reducing poverty, and promoting their progression to self-sufficiency,” noted Clemett.

Social Services Minister Gene Makowsky said the Ministry is accepting Clemett’s recommendations and added that improvements to address them are already underway.

“We are adding ten new positions to improve call response times and expanding the number of computers and free wi-fi in our service centres. We are also working closely with community-based organizations to better serve clients,” said Makowsky.

“This includes further expanding the number of spaces to access money management and trusteeship supports as well as placing up to ten staff in community-based organizations to support clients with complex challenges where they are.”

NDP social services critic Meara Conway said the NDP wasn’t surprised by the issues raised in the auditor’s report. She said social workers, landlords, and SARM representatives have raised concerns about the SIS program, and called the program an “absolute failure across the board” that was increasing homelessness, not decreasing it.

“With folks living on the margins, you want to make sure that the supports you make available to them are as accessible as possible,” she said during media scrum. “The government themselves identified this in their poverty reduction report in 2016, the need to make supports as barrier free as possible. We have the provincial auditor saying this isn’t accessible.”

Sentencing circle to determine fate of Senator Allen Bird Memorial Centre arsonist

The woman charged with burning down the Senator Allen Bird Memorial Centre last April has formally entered a guilty plea.

Gina Pearl Beatty was charged with one count of arson for starting the blaze that destroyed the building owned by the Prince Albert Grand Council. In Prince Albert Provincial Court Friday, Beatty’s lawyer and the Crown prosecutor submitted a joint request for a sentencing circle.

Sentencing circles involve inviting the judge, defence counsel, Crown prosecutor, and community members, along with the offender, the victim and their supporters to meet and discuss the offence, contributing factors, sentencing options and community reintegration.

Beatty was denied bail and the sentencing circle was set for July 7.

The Senator Allen Bird Memorial Centre burned to the ground the morning of Friday, April 15, 2022. The building was named after the late elder and decorated veteran Allen Bird of Montreal Lake Cree Nation.

The multi-use event centre hosted fine arts festivals, sporting events, round dances, and assemblies. It was also used as a distribution base for things like the annual PAGC Easter hamper drive.

Patrick Nogier appointed as interim Chief of Police for Prince Albert Police Service

A 30-year member of the Saskatoon Police Service and Superintendent of the Criminal Investigations Division has been appointed as the interim Chief of Police for the Prince Albert Police Service (PAPS).

The Prince Albert Board of Police Commissioners announced on Wednesday that Patrick Nogier would fill the position, two weeks after Chief Jon Bergen announced his retirement.

“We look forward to working together toward the change that is necessary to ensure a safe community that is confident in the brave men and women of our Service,” said Board Chair Janet Carriere. “The Board very much looks forward to working with someone as highly regarded in the Province as Patrick Nogier, to get us through this next period with a focus on the safety and wellbeing of all our community.”

Nogier said in a press release he is positive and enthusiastic as he assumes the interim role.

”Right from June 1st my goal will be stability and harmony within the Prince Albert Police Service, for the benefit of the community it serves,” he said. “It is my great honor and privilege to be named as the interim Chief of Police in Prince Albert. Together, we will begin a next chapter that I am confident will reflect renewed dedication, collaboration, and a shared vision of a safe and strong future.”

President of the Prince Albert Police Association Cst. Nolan Carter welcomed the new interim Chief and expressed excitement for Nogier’s term to begin.

“We know there will be many changes and some challenges, but we are looking forward to a bright future for the Service and the community,” said Carter. “Our members are committed to working with Chief Nogier as well as the Police Board. The Prince Albert Police Association wants to build positive relationships for the betterment of our members and the city we serve.”

Since beginning his policing career with the Saskatoon Police Service (SPS) in 1993, Nogier has received numerous awards and accolades for his achievements over the last 30 years, including The Order of Merit – Police Forces and Police Exemplary Service Medal from the Governor General of Canada.

He played a significant role in implementing Saskatchewan’s first Internet Child Exploitation Unit (ICE) and as a result, Nogier was recognized with the SPS Chiefs Award of Excellence, the Saskatchewan Association of Chiefs of Police Excellence in Policing Award, and a Certificate of Appreciation from the Canadian Centre for Missing and Exploited Children.

“I recognize that building trust is a journey that requires time, patience, and consistent effort. It is not a task that can be accomplished overnight,” said Nogier. “However, I pledge a resolute commitment to earning that trust. I ask for your partnership, your guidance, and your willingness to engage in constructive dialogue as we tackle this process together.”

Nogier has also been heavily involved with youth hockey. He is the chair of the Western Hockey League’s Players Advisory Council, and helped coach the Saskatoon Contacts and Saskatoon Stars to appearances in the Telus and Esso Cups respectively.

Commemorative sculpture and park installation faces delays

Due to a series of challenges faced by artist Mary Longman, the unveilings of the Passage Home sculpture and Healing Garden park installation will be delayed by several months from their original dates.

The project includes a walking path surrounded by five maple trees and five custom benches, with a bronze cased traditional travel carriage with moccasins and a bison bundle inside as the star of the show.

The project is a memorial to Indigenous children who died away from home and those who are still finding their way back as a result of residential schools, day schools, and the 60s Scoop.

The sculpture was originally supposed to be unveiled on the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, and the park was to be unveiled on National Indigenous Peoples Day, but Longman didn’t receive grant money for the project from Canada Council for the Arts until this February.

“Things kind of started behind schedule right from the get-go,” said Longman during Tuesday’s Executive Committee meeting.

Since starting the project, Longman said they’ve also found different delays with contractors and changing construction plans.

“Overall, I think that I was overly ambitious with the timeline, trying to accomplish essentially two artworks within an eight-month span,” she added.

Not only did Longman take on the task of designing the park itself, but also the actual sculpture, which typically take around two years to complete on average.

“Ideally, we wanted it last year and I got stuck on the date of Truth and Reconciliation Day, rather than being more realistic about how much time it would take,” said Longman.

She provided an alternate Oct. 30 to Nov. 30 unveiling date for the sculpture, as the design is just entering the 3D printing stage now.
Longman believes the park itself should still be finished by this summer, pending the completion of the custom benches.

Mayor Greg Dionne voiced his concerns with having to move to the project’s unveiling once again.

“We have to make sure that we communicate what we’re doing to the public because this is a serious situation,” said Dionne.

As a result of the project’s delay, Dionne moved a motion that the City will enter into a new agreement with Longman with solid timelines, which was passed six to one.

Prince Albert Children’s Choir celebrates year-end with annual spring concert

The Prince Albert Children’s Choir will be hosting its year-end spring concert on Sunday at St. Mark Parish on Sixth Ave. E, with doors to open at 1:30 p.m. for the 2 p.m. show time.

Artistic Director Megan Fournier-Mewis said this weekend’s concert is “affordable spring entertainment for the whole family”, with entry to the show costing $5 per person or $10 a family.

All 26 members of both the ages five to ten preparatory choir, as well as the ages nine to 18 concert choir, will be performing a variety of tunes ranging from Canadian folk, pop music, Disney and DreamWorks hits, and some 60s favourites.

A song by Gordon Lightfoot, who recently passed at the beginning of May, that was arranged by Fournier-Mewis’ father will also be performed as a tribute by the Children’s Choir at Sunday’s concert.

“They were able to workshop it and really make it their own,” said Fournier-Mewis. “It’s really evolved into something special.”
Fournier-Mewis’ daughter Katie is a member of the choir and said since children start from a young age, they are able to grow their talents throughout.

“This group of children is amazing to work with,” said Fournier-Mewis of both the new and familiar faces that belong to this year’s choir.

“They’re a very collaborative group [and] they’re a very diverse group, which is great because a choir by definition is diversity unified.

“It’s all different voices coming together as one.”

Joining the spring concert is guest performer Sanjana Brijlall, a former member of the Prince Albert Children’s Choir who is now studying voice at the University of Saskatchewan.

“We are thrilled to have her back”, said Fournier-Mewis.

To further support the Prince Albert Children’s Choir, a raffle table will also be set up at Sunday’s concert as a fundraiser.

Community Services proposes unique year-round washroom concept for Little Red River Park

The City of Prince Albert may be bringing a unique concept to Little Red River Park this summer, with the inclusion of a year-round accessible public washroom for park guests created from a converted shipping container.

Parks and Open Spaces Manager Tim Yeaman presented the out-of-the-box concept to members of Council during Tuesday’s Executive Committee meeting, where he explained how the Community Services Department landed on the unique recommendation.

During the City’s last budget deliberations, Council approved $210,000 for top priorities for Little Red River Park during the 2023 operating year, which included new washrooms in the park and a warm-up shelter.

Back in February/March, Community Services began to explore available washroom concepts and reached out to other communities and companies that may offer different options.

The department’s original plan was to develop compostable washrooms, but the company Yeaman was dealing with stopped communications, forcing him back to square one.

In the end, Community Services found success in connecting with Saskatoon-based company, The Container Guy, that specializes in converting Sea-Cans into usable space.

CEO of The Container Guys, Channing McCorriston, was featured on season five of Dragons Den, where he was looking for investment into his company that created durable temporary office solutions, which he co-created with two other students from Saskatoon.

“Since that time, Mr. McCorriston has moved on from ‘3Twenty Modular’ and forged ahead with the creation of The Container Guys, expanding on those early days and taking the container modification industry to new heights,” Yeaman wrote in his report to Council. “They are an industry leader and have completed thousands of modification projects in virtually every major industry and their methods are being adopted by people all over the world as the industry standard.”

During discussions with The Container Guys, Yeaman realized that their “wish list” for the original washroom concept would cost in excess of $100,000.

A Request for Proposals was then sent out in the beginning of May to see if the department could garner interest from other vendors, which Yeaman said saw two other contractors bid on the project. The pricing provided by the two other companies exceeded $200,000 per proposal, putting them both out of reach for the project.

“Even going through the evaluation process, the washrooms were 80 plus per cent higher than the lowest bid, which also drew some concern on our part because we had limited budget to work with,” said Yeaman.

After going back to the drawing board, Community Services and The Container Guys came up with the concept of turning a 40-foot shipping container into year-round accessible public washrooms while staying within the City’s budget.

Also included in the design is a utility room, a storage room, a septic and clean water holding tank, as well as wrapping the front of the shipping container for aesthetic purposes.

“This by far is probably one of the most unique projects we’ve strived to complete within Little Red River Park,” noted Yeaman.

The facility will be built off-site and delivered to Little Red, with the City only needing to connect the building to power for immediate use. According to Yeaman, the washrooms will not be open to the public 24/7. They will only be open during park hours and locked after the park closes.

Yeaman noted some complex issues that guided the department’s search for different year-round washroom concepts that meet the needs of the park.

“Little Red is unique in nature,” said Yeaman. “We certainly had some struggles out there.”

A few of the hurdles they needed to overcome included the possibility of flooding in the park’s core area and the lack of supporting infrastructure like water, sewer, and power.

Yeaman said that for a cost of $1,500, power can be brought to the site to allow for motion sensor lights and year-round heating and cooling inside the facility.

Bringing power to the location also allows for the City to move forward with adding security cameras at the front of the park and being able to operate the snow gun at the toboggan hill.

The washrooms would replace the outhouse near the toboggan hill to service the high demand in the location. However, the modified shipping container will be placed on screw piles to allow for movement to other areas of the park if needed in the future.

The converted Sea-Can washrooms could be just one of five washrooms park-wide that Community Services may be looking to develop in the future, and it’s also the largest one that the department has planned.

Yeaman said the department would consider developing similar, yet smaller year-round washrooms near the northwest parking lot location, as the area sees lots of traffic from the 700 members of the Prince Albert Nordic Ski Club. Seasonal use washrooms could also be placed in the areas near the swinging bridge, the horseshoe and the upper east plains.

“With all the great improvements that are going on out there, we see this as a real need,” added Yeaman.

The recommendation to award The Container Guys with the contract services of supply, construction and install of the new washrooms will be brought forward to a future City Council meeting for final approval before the Community Services Department can begin to work with the company on the construction process.

If approved, the projected delivery date for the new washrooms will be at the end of August or early September of 2023.

Local developers propose plan to build retail liquor store, high-class hotel in The Yard District

Prince Albert City Council held a special meeting on Tuesday, where they approved a development permit application for a new liquor store to be located in The Yard District in the near future.

Abdul and Faizan Hirani are planning to commence construction this year on an 8,000 square foot retail liquor store in the City’s newest subdivision.

Once the project is completed, the Hiranis said they will cease their current operations at Bailey’s Cold Beer & Wine prior to the opening of the new location.

The store will consist of approximately 4,000 square feet of retail space, 2,000 square feet of walk-in cooler space, and 2,000 square feet of storage and office space, said City Planner Craig Guidinger.

According to a report from Administration, the property will need to be rezoned from Future Urban Development to Highway Commercial, where liquor stores are considered discretionary uses.

The father-son developer duo is also looking to construct a luxury branded franchise hotel and retail space at the site, alongside the liquor store.

Guidinger explained that the applicants are currently only asking for approval for the liquor store, but they are looking for a potential tenant to be part of the development.

“What is being proposed is they are applying for a liquor store right now, and they are absolutely applying for a hotel in the near future,” he said, noting that as the reason why the Hiranis were looking to purchase two lots.

In a letter they wrote to City Council, the Hiranis state that construction on the 100-room hotel will begin in spring of 2024 and estimate that the project will take around 16 months to complete, making them operational slightly after the opening of the City’s recreation centre.

“With the influx of new travelers, multi-night events, and social media buzz, the timing of this project is key to its success,” reads the letter.

The proposed liquor store will be located at 4280 Seventh Ave. E, just south of the City’s future recreation centre

Woman who assaulted Prince Albert senior receives four-and-a-half-year prison sentence

The woman who entered a Prince Albert seniors’ living complex and assaulted an 89-year-old man last January entered a guilty plea to aggravated assault right before her trial was set to take place Wednesday.

In a Prince Albert Provincial Court room on May 24, 40-year-old April Ross was sentenced to four and a half years for pushing and severely injuring retired corrections officer Carl Klarenbach, with a seven-month credit for time served.

According to the agreed statement of facts, on the evening of Jan. 2, Klarenbach, his wife Bev, and several other Northcote Manor residents were playing cards on the complex’s main floor, when they noticed an unknown woman wandering around inside.

The group pressed Ross for answers as to why she was there. Ross replied that she was visiting someone in the building. The residents told her to leave, but Ross became aggravated and grabbed what was described by the Crown as a butter knife from the kitchen drawers and threatened to stab someone.

Crown Prosecutor MaryAnne Larson stated that Klarenbach grabbed a garbage can for protection, but was pushed back by the suspect, hitting his head on the ground where he almost immediately lost consciousness. Ross then fled the scene on foot.

Police were called to Northcote Manor following the assault and were met by EMS, who transported Klarenbach to hospital. He received a CT scan upon arrival, which revealed that he was suffering from a skull fracture.

Following interviews with witnesses, law enforcement searched for the suspect and located Ross matching the description several blocks away, an hour after the incident occurred.

During the ride in the police vehicle, Ross would admit to pushing Klarenbach, but claimed it was in self-defense. According to the officer’s report, Ross did not appear intoxicated during her arrest.

Since he was admitted, Klarenbach has been suffering from rapidly progressing dementia and cognitive impairment as a result of the fall. The physician undertaking Klarenbach’s care in the Victoria Hospital reported that because of his condition, the senior will not be discharged.
Carl’s son Curtis Klarenbach was in attendance during Ross’ sentencing, where he and his late mother’s victim impact statements were read before the court.

“April Ross has robbed us of so many things… I think she should be robbed of her future too,” Bev Klarenbach’s statement said.
Curtis wrote that his mother “died of a broken heart”, and he feels as if he has lost both of his parents.

Throughout the hearing, a distraught Ross could be heard crying from the prisoner’s box while saying she never meant to hurt Klarenbach.
Ross has a long criminal history dating back to 1997, with her record showing a number of convictions for assault causing bodily harm, robbery, and uttering threats.

A member of the Sturgeon Lake First Nation, Ross’ lawyer said she was physically and sexually abused as a child. Born to alcoholic parents, Ross grew up in and out of foster care prior to being on the streets and briefly spending time in a regional psychiatric center.
Because of her history, Ross is fearful of men and can react violently to confrontation, which is not an excuse but provides a picture of her life, said Ross’ lawyer.

When asked if she had anything to say, Ross apologized and said she wishes she could go back in time to change what happened.
“[It] shouldn’t have turned out this way,” said Ross. “I will have to live with this for the rest of my life.”
Judge Felicia Daunt said while Ross only pushed Klarenbach, the level of his injury is so severe and permanent that it could almost be considered manslaughter.

Daunt noted that she would make a recommendation that Ross’ remaining three year and seven-month sentence be served at a regional psychiatric centre.

Daunt told Ross that she hopes the sentence is long enough to work on herself.