The Page – February 14, 2024

When The Page first read about High Prairie and the purchase of the old hospital site, 11 acres fronting on Highway 2 and in the middle of town, several thoughts came to mind.
First was the news story, saying the Town of High Prairie, had “refused” to buy the land.
That, after being offered the land at a ridiculously low price of $148,000.
“Refused” makes it sound like town councillors were backed up against a wall with guns aimed at them from Alberta Health Services. So, wanting to protect the good interests of all of High Prairie, councillors weighed the pros and cons. Decided they were doing the right thing. Stood their ground. And refused!
In reality, there was no such thought of “doing the right thing.” High Prairie council sat on the offer, in secrecy, for four long months. And the only reason citizens knew about it was when the real estate ‘For Sale’ sign went up!
The story perhaps should have said, “Council declined to buy the land.” But even that makes it sound like long, careful thought went into the decision. The only thing long about this was the amount of time AHS generously gave council to figure out what to do.
Firstly, is the purchase cost. $148,000 expensive? No. A drop in the bucket compared to what most our communities around Alberta spend on a few sidewalks. A road or pickleball court. Or how about, as one example, every bad decision made in hiring, and then firing top administrators that often costs more than that just to get rid of him or her.
Councils have no problem at all writing secret cheques for their boondoggles.
How about claiming ‘No guarantee’ the land could be sold?
Heck, this council has practically zero interest in business, unless it jumps up and bites them. There is no planning for the future. No offers to businesses what council can do to help them. Instead, one High Prairie councillor in particular is noted for a steady stream of bad mouthing local businesses. The rest of council sits on their thumbs while he prattles away.
In fact, talk of a ‘guarantee’ of selling the land implies council has some kind of plan down the road.
Once again, council is so busy listening to prattle, they have no ideas what to do with the land. Not even enough imagination to ask the public for ideas of a plan.
And it should be noted, no one expects councillors or staff to be experts in everything. That’s why they hire lawyers and consultants. But here we have an arrogant gang who couldn’t come up with an idea to save their lives. And didn’t for four months.
Was any real estate agent in town even asked for an opinion on the land’s potential? And what if they had said ‘maybe in 10 years, if the stars align and council gets serious about development.’ Any thought on that?
Oh yes, ‘maintenance costs’ cited as an excuse not to buy. Mowing grass? Clearing a trail through snow? Refer above to the cheques council writes every time they let a staffer go to ‘explore new opportunities.’
If they are so proud of looking after taxpayer money, why is there never a news release how much it costs every time they pay severance?
What about that ‘expensive’ culvert? OK. What about it? Replacing it once again implies a plan. So where is the plan? On the back of a napkin? Probably not even there.
If the entire area was turned into a park, what would happen to the culvert? Probably dug out and the creek opened up again. Dirt and fill from the hole might be used for landscaping. Gosh, that took all of two minutes. Council took four months and did they even come up with that? If they did so, why the big secret?
Any time during those four months, council could have had meetings to hear from citizens. Of course, that would have meant talking with citizens. Something this council is distinctly above. Has no use for. Doesn’t need to. Is too busy with doing nothing.
Here is the simple, cold truth. This council screwed up. Big time. Worse, it’s a pattern of doing as little as possible. Patting yourselves on the back. Belittling fair criticism. And of course, after the fact trying to put lipstick on a pig.

No defence of High Prairie town council, but it may turn out some kind of commercial store development might come out of the AHS land sale. Maybe even a residential development, or a combination of such. Mobile home park. anyone?
The site is big enough for WalMart and several smaller outlets. But WalMart is its own eco-system and everyone else follows. So a question anybody could ask is, why not the open land to the west of Quartly’s Trucking? Eastgate? Shybunia and former Shybunia properties on the west side?
All very interesting.

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