Letter – Sale of hospital land has resident asking questions

To Town of High Prairie
Mayor Brian Panasiuk and
Town of High Prairie Council:

I am writing this letter to express my disappointment in the lack of transparency exhibited by council in their dealings with AHS (Alberta Health Services) regarding the purchase of the old High Prairie hospital site.

This piece of land was always wanted and valued by the community throughout all discussions in the building of the new hospital. Discussions regarding remediation of the site always involved community usage afterwards. For council to not inform the community that the land had been offered to the Town is beyond belief.

I have questions regarding the timeline of the AHS offer. I have spoken with both Councillors (Donna) Deynaka and (James) Waikle, but find their answers somewhat conflicting and not informative. I request answers to the following questions in writing:

  1. What date did AHS first contact the Town of High Prairie offering the land? Was the offer from AHS in written form?
  2. Who received the first contact? Was it brought to council immediately?
  3. In my conversations with Councillors Deynaka and Waikle, they both were adamant that first contact was September 2023. Councillor Waikle further stated that they immediately entered into negotiations with AHS so were unable to discuss it with the public. But if that were so, why did council ‘enter into negotiations’, refuse the offer, and still not let the community know of their decision? For that matter, what was council negotiating? There, apparently, was an opportunity offered to the Town to purchase the land at a set amount, so where would ‘negotiating”’ become relevant?
  4. Mayor and council did not let the community know that AHS had offered the Town the land. Was there ever a formal notice by motion that the AHS offer was refused? Why not?
  5. Councillors Deynaka and Waikle stated that a large culvert bisects the land and that any land usage would require remediation. How could this information be available at the September 2023 meeting and form part of the reasoning why the offer was refused without an engineering report? If there was an engineering report, when was the report ordered? Who ordered and paid for it?

Five of the seven members of this council are long-term residents of our town and knew that the community wanted this land yet made no attempt to organize a public meeting for public input.

Shame on all of you. The arrogance and the condescending attitude you, as mayor and council, to us, as residents of this community, is a sign that perhaps you should all consider resigning.

Sharon Cox,
High Prairie.

cc Scott Sinclair, MLA,
Lesser Slave Lake,
cc Ric McIver,
Alberta Minister of Municipal Affairs,
cc Adriana LaGrange,
Alberta Minister of Health.

Editor’s note: The following email was sent to South Peace News Thursday, Sept. 14, 2023 from Diana Rinne, senior communications advisor, Alberta Health Services:

“AHS (Alberta Health Services) offered the property to the Town of High Prairie in April 2023 for approximately $150,000. The Town of High Prairie was notified on August 11, 2023 the property would be listed for sale in the near future. The property was listed for sale September 8, 2023.”

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