Mayor Greg Dionne said he’s looking forward to the next year at City Hall, despite challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dionne and Prince Albert’s eight city councillors were officially sworn into office Monday night. The first meeting of the new council immediately followed, and Dionne told those in attendance the City was in good shape heading into the winter.
“We are going to continue with the challenge of COVID so we will have some tough decisions ahead, but I think with our partners in the community and the advice we get from administration and the province, we can be successful at our task,” Dionne said during his opening remarks. “I think the key is to work together. We’re certainly not going to agree on all points, but I always look at it this way—it’s not about winning. It’s about resolving, and if we resolve our problems, we can move ahead.”
Dionne said new construction projects like the recreation centre and hospital expansion will create jobs and help the city recover economically from COVID-19. He also hinted that further announcements may be on the horizon.
Dionne touted the new council as a diverse and well-qualified group that can take on those challenges, and vowed to work diligently with all of them to move the City forward.
“I am excited,” he said. “We do have challenges, but I think we have a great group in front of me that can take on those challenges.”
Although guests were allowed to attend Monday’s swearing in ceremony, COVID-19 protocols kept the interactions to a minimum. All councillors and city staff wore masks to the proceedings, with some briefly removing them while speaking.
City Clerk Sherry Person said that’s in compliance with the provincial mandate, which requires masks for all indoor public facilities where social distancing cannot be enforced. The City has rearranged the council chambers since the start of the pandemic to make sure all councillors sit a safe distance apart.
“Members of council only took their masks off when they were at or near their desks and physical distancing was maintained,” Person wrote in an email to the Daily Herald. “This is very similar to the press conference that was held by the Province on Friday, Nov. 13, 2020, where Minister Merriman and Dr. Shahab removed their masks while they spoke.”
Elder Priscilla Joseph opened Monday’s ceremony with a brief prayer. She urged council to remember the Serenity Prayer as they made decisions over the next four year, advice that was given to her by a former Chief before he passed away.
Council met briefly on Monday to certify the results from Prince Albert’s 2020 municipal election. The next meeting is scheduled for Nov. 30.