Lakeland Connect sat down with election candidate Diane Jenkinson for a question and answer session in our Meet the Candidate series. Jenkinson is running for Ward 6 Councillor in the M.D. of Bonnyville.
Arthur C. Green: Why are are running for the M.D. of Bonnyville Ward 6 Councillor seat. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Diane Jenkinson: I am running in the Municipal District of Bonnyville election to be a strong and effective voice for Ward 6 residents at the Council table. I have lived on an acreage in the Cherry Grove area with my partner Dwight for 34 years. I grew up in Cold Lake, moved to Edmonton and Calgary to attend post-secondary institutions, then returned home to raise a family. During my working life I was a journalist at several local papers, a Community Programmer with Family and Community Support Services (FCSS) in Bonnyville and Cold Lake and a Marketing and Communications professional with two rural (M.D. of Bonnyville and Yellowhead County) and one urban municipality (City of Cold Lake). My career as a journalist and my work in communications and marketing with several municipalities provides me with the background knowledge of how good Councils operate. And mhow good Councils work together to achieve success. Working in various municipalities provides me with the background for a Councillor leadership role.
Arthur C. Green: What are your primary goals you want to achieve as a Councillor?
Diane Jenkinson: I intend to represent all residents of Ward 6 – acreage owners, those living in the subdivisions throughout the Ward, business owners and producers. I am committed to maintaining a high service standard for the M.D’s basic services – road maintenance and improvements, street lighting, playgrounds in subdivisions, high speed internet service, road brushing and flood mitigation. These are the services that touch everyone in Ward 6 and there is an expectation that they will be carried out to a high standard. As I have been door knocking I have found that residents want the M.D. to provide a high standard of basic services. Things like a crosswalk between the Country Lane and Countryside subdivisions are a high safety priority for those residents. A high priority is construction of a Fire Hall in the Cherry Grove area to reduce insurance costs for residents and businesses that are outside the mandatory range. Contrary to what some people
are saying, this Fire Hall is not in the Bonnyville Regional Fire Authority’s five year plan. Nor is it listed in the 2021 Budget and Business Plan. In the 2020-2023 Strategic Plan there is a vague reference to a fire services needs analysis– but that has not been undertaken, It is my understanding, to facilitate construction of a fire hall, residents of the Cherry Grove area must be able to operate the fire hall on a daily basis. To achieve that goal, I am collecting names and contact information for those people 18 to 65 years of age who are interested in the volunteer firefighter training and manning a truck out of the future fire hall. We need at least 30 people to sign up. Please contact me if you are interested.
Arthur C. Green: What is your stand on regional partnerships?
Diane Jenkinson: As a M.D. Councillor I will prioritize regional,collaborative partnerships. I am committed to maintaining the Bonnyville Regional Fire Authority and Emergency Services. There are some real concerns, and too many rumours, regarding what is happening with the
BRFA. The Regional Fire Authority has existed for 25 years and it is a model that has been copied across Western Canada. It has served our region well with top notch services. At this moment in time the M.D. of Bonnyville does not have an emergency plan, as it has dropped out
of the regional plan that both parties had created over a two-year period. That is a real concern for all M.D. residents. I support the construction of two pools – one in Cold Lake at the Energy Centre and the second in Bonnyville at the Centennial Centre. There may be some cost savings in constructing these pools at the same time or one after the other. The construction of the pools onto the two facilities
will complete the design and make them destination recreation facilities. I believe we can then start looking at Sport Tourism as an economic driver for the region. These two recreation facilities have all the requirements to host major tournaments or sporting events such as the
provincial winter or summer games. Sport tourism puts heads in the beds of our hotels and bums in the seats of our restaurants.
I am committed to protecting our regional lakes by working in conjunction with the Lakeland Industry Community Association (LICA) and the Lakeland Agricultural Research Association (LARA). Our lakes are the basis for our tourism industry and the reason many people choose to
live here. We must maintain their beauty and pristine water. I will support active community halls with increased annual funding and recreational programming for families and seniors. The M.D. needs to fund senior programs through FCSS and Age Friendly Cold Lake. The
pandemic has shown that seniors need some assistance to remain living comfortably in their homes. I believe in providing financial support to community organizations and their initiatives, especially those that boost the tourism potential of the region. The Regional Economic Development Committee is a high priority as well, as economic diversification should be a primary goal of all local councils. I would like to see the City of Cold Lake join that committee, especially to do tourism marketing.
Arthur C. Green: You are one of the few candidates who has mentioned supporting open, accessible and accountable governance. Can you expand on that please?
Diane Jenkinson: I am strongly in favour of open, accessible and accountable governance. We need to have minimal “closed to the public” sessions of Council meetings. There are problems if a Council is conducting its business behind closed doors and not informing the
public of what is going on. Debates on issues must be conducted in front of the taxpayers. A Council cannot conduct its business via the rumour mill. It must provide clear communication as to what its direction is. As an example: on June 12. 2019 Councillor Fadeyiw made a motion that reads “ Moved by Councillor Fadeyiw the Administration proceed with the purchase of land as discussed.” As ratepayers we do not know what land, how much was the cost of the land and why Council is purchasing the land for the M.D. A motion should be clear and concise. It should not leave so many questions. I would encourage residents to question any Council that goes behind closed doors all the time. This becomes a way that a Reeve can control his Councillors, because once the Council goes behind closed doors, no Councillor can speak on the matter. It is not a transparent way to operate. Another example of questionable communication is a recent Facebook post: It reads: The Municipal District of Bonnyville has taken control of the remaining work on both the Ardmore Fire Hall and Grader Shop and the Fort Kent Fire Hall construction projects. “Council was excited to finally see a light at the end of the tunnel on these stalled endeavours,” said Reeve Greg Sawchuk. With project management now back in the hands of the M.D.’s Administration, the new fire halls are estimated to be operational by the end of 2021. The M.D. is currently sourcing contractors to perform the outstanding items, including paving of entrances and parking lots, and some minor interior touch ups. You have to ask who made that decision. There was no public discussion about the two fire halls in the meeting previous to this post. The M.D. always had control over the building of the two fire halls in Fort Kent and Ardmore. It was an M.D. of Bonnyville project. No where in the post does it tell us how much the solution is going to cost the M.D. And there should be a motion that tells us that.
I want to encourage more public dialogue with our ratepayers. I would like to see a public question period before all Council meetings. That way we can monitor if we are communicating adequately with our taxpayers. Time can be set aside for questions and answers on a first come, first serve basis. I would conduct annual open houses at all active community halls once COVID restrictions allow this to happen. I would like to see the M.D. of Bonnyville move to hosting at least one evening Council Meeting in order to attract the next generation of leaders. Most of our ratepayers work during the day and are unable to take time off to sit in day meetings. We must open up our governance model to all ratepayers so more people can run for leadership roles.
Arthur C. Green: You say that you are fiscally responsible, can you describe what that means?
Diane Jenkinson: I think that being fiscally responsible starts at the Council table. This past Council has been the most expensive Council ever, compared to any previous Council. I would like to see Council expenses reduced. A Councillor should not be paid $90,000 a year and a Reeve should not be paid over $120,000 a year. We have a CAO and upper management team who are paid a total over one million dollars to undertake Council directions. A qualified management team should not need micromanagement. A Councillor and Reeve are paid a monthly honourarium, they should not be charging every time they answer a phone or walk out the door to meet a resident. I would like to see stable staffing at the M. D. of Bonnyville and reduce “without cause” payouts. In the last four years the present Council has paid out close to or over one million dollars in “without cause” payouts. That is not fiscally responsible leadership.
If you have concerns or issues please contact me at 780-573-6114 or [email protected] Vote Monday, October 18 at Cherry Grove Hall, Riverhurst Hall or the Cold Lake Energy Centre.