More study needed before next hire, council agrees

Chris Clegg
South Peace News

A proposal from Town of High Prairie CAO Bill McKennan to create a “robust communications plan” needs further study, town council agreed at its April 9 meeting.

A motion to “direct administration to retain external assistance to develop a communication action plan” with withdrawn and tabled at the meeting.

The proposal tentatively called for council to hire an outside contractor rather. Currently, council relies on themselves and staff to communicate with the public.

Councillor Judy Stenhouse was first to speak against the idea saying council had a communications policy. She suggested revisiting the policy and fixing it instead of hiring someone to do the job at expense to the town’s taxpayers.

McKennan responded by saying council expressed a desire to communicate more effectively with the public, but Stenhouse replied council should meet and put a more effective policy in place.

“Yes, we know what some of the issues are,” said Mayor Brian Panasiuk.

“We have an image problem right now,” he added. “We need to change some of the things we’re doing.”

Ron Shunter expressed concern from the gallery and was allowed to speak.

“Call a timeout before we spend more of taxpayer’s money,” he suggested, adding council should first engage the public.

Councillor Donna Deynaka wanted to move forward but agreed with Shunter.

“I think we need to make it (communications) a priority,” she said.

Meanwhile, Councillor Sacha Martens was concerned about several matters, one being there was no proposed budget presented. Later, she asked what the cost would be: five grant, 50 grand, five grand and received on answer.

And without a proper plan, Councillor John Dunn was concerned.

“We’re setting him or her up to fail,” he said.

“For me, I’d like to see a list from residents to incorporate whatever strategy we implement.”

Councillor Therese Yacyshyn wanted to move forward.

“I think we need to do it now,” she said.

“Take what’s been said and get expert advice.”

Before withdrawing his motion, Waikle agreed to study the matter further.

“We need something like this, I believe,” he said, but added he would also like to see a budget presented and more defined goals.

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