Archive for Dundurn

Reid challenges Wilson as RM of Dundurn votes for reeve

web-dundurn

By Joel van der Veen

DUNDURN — With continued growth expected in the Dundurn area, it’s now up to local voters to decide which candidate will be the one to lead them through it.

Voters in the Rural Municipality of Dundurn will head to the polls for a byelection on Nov. 18 to choose between Trevor Reid and Fred Wilson as their new reeve.

Wilson, 69, a longtime farmer and resident of the area, has served as reeve since January 2004; it was his resignation, which took effect in October, that made the byelection necessary.

He explained to the Leader that personal issues — specifically, a move into town and a decision to turn the family farm over to his son — were getting in the way of his duties.

“I just kind of felt that I wasn’t contributing to the council the way I felt I should be,” he said. “I was kind of second-guessing myself.”

Subsequently, he reconsidered his decision, and with the passage of time and the encouragement of several ratepayers, Wilson decided he was ready to seek another term.

He said he is still comfortable with the direction he and the council have been moving and the decisions they have made, including a temporary moratorium on new residential subdivisions.

Wilson cited the “adequate supply” of current subdivisions and added that he wants to encourage more commercial and industrial activity, though the RM must compete with the City of Saskatoon and other municipalities like Corman Park.

He also said they’re pleased with the current development of a new campsite at Blackstrap Provincial Park, noting that it had been a longtime council objective.

Wilson said that maintaining infrastructure to accompany growth in the RM is “pretty central to what’s been happening,” adding that they will need to keep an eye on roads over the next few months, as water levels and spring runoff take their toll.

He also wants to continue to push for a connecting link between highways 219 and 11, which would help establish the area as a tourism corridor south of Saskatoon.

“Our west side of our municipality is basically isolated from our east side,” said Wilson. “We don’t think that’s right.”

Running against Wilson is Trevor Reid, 39, a real estate agent and business consultant who moved to the area with his wife and two children just over five years ago.

He said he believes the time is right to “take the RM to the next level” and wants to put his 20 years of business experience to work for ratepayers, adding, “I just feel I can bring a lot of motivation and strive for change.”

Reid said he frequently hears from other residents that their concerns are not being addressed in a timely or effective fashion, adding that the most frequent complaints have to do with road maintenance and servicing.

As reeve, he said, he would aim to address the questions and concerns that are brought forward by ratepayers, noting, “It may not always be what they want to hear, but at least they’ll have an answer.”

He also said he perceives a division between the farmers and the more recent arrivals living on acreages, and he wants to bring those groups together and “get everybody on the same page.”

Reid has run to serve on the RM council twice. He was a candidate in the municipal election three years ago and also ran in a byelection in March. Both experiences have given him lots of opportunities to discuss issues with voters.

“I’ve heard a lot of what people had to say,” he said. “Everybody’s complaints and concerns are valid, and a lot of them are the same.”

Reid said he has heard about many smaller issues that aren’t as simple to address. He added that he would like to improve transparency on the RM’s financial reports, allowing residents to better understand the municipality’s situation.

Administrator Judy Douglas confirmed last week that once Wilson had resigned, the RM was required to hold a byelection under The Municipalities Act.

Both candidates have promoted themselves using campaign signs, which Douglas said is “unusual” for an election in their municipality.

The vote will take place on Nov. 18 from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the municipal office on Second Street in Dundurn, with the results to be declared at 10 a.m. the following day.

Armed robbery reported at Hanley Hotel

HANLEY — Police are investigating reports of an armed robbery at the Hanley Hotel late Friday morning.

According to a press release issued by Saskatoon RCMP, police received the call around 11:18 a.m. on Friday. Few details about the incident were available, but police said an investigation was underway.

As a precaution, Hanley Composite School was placed in hold-and-secure mode, in which exterior doors were locked and monitored and classes could continue.

Principal Chris Tucker said the situation was not to be confused with a lockdown, but stressed that the day was continuing as normally as possible.

“Students are safe, and school’s moving on like normal for the afternoon,” he said just before 2 p.m.

He could not provide any further details, referring media inquiries to Prairie Spirit School Division, which had been notified of the situation.

Police stated that parents and community members were asked not to attend the school due to the situation.

More details would be reported as they became available, police stated.

Dundrun? Contractor blamed for errant road sign

Shown here is a road sign along the southbound lanes of Highway 11, directing drivers to the Canadian Forces Detachment at Dundurn — misspelled by the contractor responsible for designing the signs.

Shown here is a road sign along the southbound lanes of Highway 11, directing drivers to the Canadian Forces Detachment at Dundurn — misspelled by the contractor responsible for designing the signs.

By Joel van der Veen

DUNDURN — A proofreading error in a highly visible place has resulted in some red faces at the Ministry of Highways and Infrastructure.

A sign installed this summer along the southbound lanes of Highway 11, directing drivers to the Canadian Forces Detachment at Dundurn, will be corrected after a misspelling on the sign was brought to the ministry’s attention.

“This is obviously a unique situation and somewhat embarrassing,” said Steve Shaheen, a communications consultant with the ministry.

Shaheen said that the contractor responsible for making the signs misspelled the name “Dundurn” as “Dundrun,” adding that the error went unnoticed by the road crew that installed the sign.

“Shortly after the sign was erected, we received a call about it and have been working to get it fixed,” he said, adding, “This should be done soon.”

Shaheen said that the contractor agreed to correct the sign at no additional charge to the ministry.

Another sign along the northbound side of the highway is largely identical, except with the guiding arrow pointed left instead of right. It does not contain the spelling error.

Shaheen noted that the ministry is responsible for a vast number of signs across the province, which must be replaced from time to time.

This can be due to intentional damage, such as vandalism; accidental damage, such as when signs are struck in auto collisions; or simply because of wear and tear.

Shaheen also said it is extremely rare for a misspelled traffic sign to be installed before the error is caught.

An unidentified Canadian Armed Forces member who answered the phone at CFAD Dundurn on Wednesday laughed when told of the error.

He said he had not yet seen the misspelled sign but added, “I imagine somebody has mentioned it.”

(Update: Shaheen contacted the Leader on Monday to say he was informed that the sign has now been corrected.)

Two vehicles stolen during widespread crime spree

web-rcmpBy Joel van der Veen

CRAIK — Two vehicles were stolen in the Davidson area during an apparent crime spree on Tuesday night that stretched from north of Saskatoon down to Aylesbury.

According to a news release issued by the Craik RCMP detachment, an unknown suspect or suspects embarked on a binge of breaking and entering of vehicles between 11 p.m. on Sept. 8 and 3:30 a.m. on Sept. 9.

Police believe the suspect or suspects rummaged through several vehicles in multiple communities along Highway 11, including Davidson, Craik and Aylesbury.

Two vehicles were reported stolen from the Davidson area, although one of the vehicles was later located within town limits.

Const. Matthew Moline, speaking to the Leader, was tight-lipped about the thefts, saying that the spree remains under active investigation.

Moline declined to disclose any information about the second stolen vehicle, which had yet to be recovered as of Thursday.

However, police have connected the incidents in this area to similar thefts in several communities north of Saskatoon, including Rosthern, Laird and Hepburn, that occurred the same night.

Moline said that items stolen in those communities were later recovered in this area, thus indicating to police that “it’s the same crew.”

The Leader also received reports of suspects rummaging through vehicles in Dundurn last week. Moline said he hadn’t heard about any such incidents but said there could be a connection.

Police issued the usual reminder to local residents to keep homes and garages locked in their absence.

The public is also reminded to keep vehicles locked and to keep valuable property hidden from view, and to report any suspicious activity in the area.

Anyone with relevant information is asked to contact the Craik RCMP or Saskatchewan Crime Stoppers.

Waugh defeats Yelich in Tory race

Lynne Yelich

Lynne Yelich

By Joel van der Veen

SASKATOON — Lynne Yelich’s 15-year career in federal politics appears set to draw to a close this fall.

Last Monday, broadcaster Kevin Waugh defeated the longtime MP and cabinet minister in the race to be the Conservatives’ candidate for the newly-created Saskatoon Grasswood riding.

Once the writ is dropped for the next federal election — expected to fall on Oct. 19 — Yelich will lose her seat in the House of Commons after representing the Blackstrap riding since 2000.

In a statement issued Tuesday, Yelich said simply that she was “disappointed in this result,” but added that she had been honoured to support the work of the Conservative government.

“It has been a privilege to represent the constituents of Blackstrap for nearly 15 years,” she stated, thanking residents for their “support and trust in my leadership, and for this opportunity to serve a strong and free Canada.”

She did not offer any details regarding her future plans, political or otherwise, nor any further comments on Waugh’s win.

Yelich, 62, a native of Kenaston, was first elected to represent Blackstrap in 2000 as a member of the Canadian Alliance.

She remained on board in 2003 when the Alliance and the Progressive Conservatives merged to form the new federal Conservative Party of Canada.

Yelich was re-elected in 2004, 2006, 2008 and 2011, receiving 54.4 per cent of the vote in the most recent federal election.

Having served as a critic for multiple portfolios as a member of the Opposition, Yelich became parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Human Resources and Social Development after the Conservatives formed a minority government in 2006.

Two years later, she joined the federal cabinet as Minister of State for Western Economic Diversification. In 2013, she was appointed to her current portfolio as Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and Consular.

In 2012, the province’s federal electoral districts were reconfigured, based on the population statistics provided by the previous year’s census.

The current riding of Blackstrap covers both urban and rural territory, combining the southeast quadrant of the City of Saskatoon with the surrounding area, extending south to Elbow, southeast to Bladworth and east to Jensen.

It will be replaced in the upcoming federal election with its area divided into two new ridings. Southeast Saskatoon will become part of the Saskatoon Grasswood riding, while the rural area will be incorporated into Moose Jaw-Lake Centre-Lanigan.

Kevin Waugh, a sports director and anchor for Saskatoon’s CTV affiliate, announced in June that he would challenge Yelich for the nomination.

He offered some pointed comments to the StarPhoenix last month, saying that with a new, strictly urban riding, a change in leadership was needed.

“We only have three ridings now, so you’d better come from Saskatoon, in my estimation,” he was quoted. “You better understand what the city needs.”

The end of Yelich’s term will also mark the end of a 22-year span in which Kenaston natives represented the village and surrounding area in the House of Commons.

Allan Kerpan was elected to represent Moose Jaw-Lake Centre as a Reform MP in 1993. After new ridings were established, he was re-elected to represent Blackstrap in 1997.

He remained with the Reform Party as it dissolved to form the Canadian Alliance in 2000, but did not stand for re-election that year, paving the way for Yelich to run in the riding.

According to her online biography, Yelich has a background in administration. She and her husband Matt have two daughters and three grandchildren.

Yelich was unavailable for further comment last week.

Prairie Spirit changes its tune on band programs

By Joel van der Veen

WARMAN — Prairie Spirit School Division (PSSD) has reversed a recent decision on band programs at its schools, announcing last week that the programs would be funded for the coming year after all.

The announcement came almost a week after the division had said it would cut funding for instrumental band programs for the 2015-16 school year, as part of its efforts to handle a $7.1-million funding shortfall.

The decision would have affected band programs across the division, including Dundurn Elementary School, which offers the program in grades 5 and 6, and Hanley Composite School, which offers band to students in grades 5 through 12.

Students who completed a Band 10 credit this year would have the opportunity to finish Band 20 and/or 30 credits, but the existing program would gradually be replaced with a broader musical education program.

The division allowed for the possibility of extracurricular band practices to be organized by “interested teachers” but said bussing would not be provided for those practices.

The PSSD then found itself caught in something of a political firestorm, as NDP education critic Trent Wotherspoon said the cuts were a symptom of underfunding by the Saskatchewan Party government and demanded that funding be restored.

Meanwhile, education minister Don Morgan defended his party’s record and argued that Prairie Spirit’s own board was to blame for the division’s budget woes.

The division announced the reversal of its decision in a letter to parents dated June 3 that was leaked to the StarPhoenix and later made public.

PSSD director of education John Kuzbik told the Leader on Thursday that the division received plenty of feedback on the issue, much of it from students.

“I really admired how the students went about sharing their displeasure,” he said. “They were respectful . . . They wanted to make it clear that it was a passionate area.”

He also said the response stretched beyond parents and students to include members of the local music community.

Ultimately, he said, the division changed its plan once it determined it would not be able to provide a sufficient replacement program for next year.

The board made the decision at its June 1 meeting to “continue to provide financial support to keep the band music programs operating in their current locations,” according to the letter to parents.

“We had to rethink what we were offering,” he explained. “As we got deeper into it, we realized we weren’t ready to offer an alternative program that could generate as rich an experience as the band program could offer.”

The board had committed not to eliminate programs, but to reduce or replace them; it was determined that the proposed plan would have broken that commitment.

Kuzbik said the division has received feedback on the other cutbacks it has made, so the volume of response on the band matter was close to what they had anticipated.

He said the plan moving forward is to attempt to grow the current program to attract more students, to make it more economical and to see whether it can be expanded to toher schools.

Figures released by the school division last month indicate that fewer students are continuing with the current band program, with numbers dropping off dramatically between Grade 5 and Grade 12.

Meanwhile, the division is still grappling with a major funding shortfall, which must be addressed in time for the budget to be adopted on July 15.

Kuzbik said the division staff and board are working closely together to find possible areas for restructuring or cost savings, adding, “That’s just the nasty work that we’re involved in.”

“It’s really unfortunate that we have to go into making program reductions and staffing reductions because of the big shortfall,” he continued, adding that he feels the division’s expectations are not “out of line with what other school divisions are able to do.”

Kuzbik said he hopes the commotion over the band program has put a spotlight on the division’s situation and the decisions they are forced to make.

A statement issued by the division identified “inadequate and inequitable funding” as the root cause of its current financial situation. Kuzbik said more information on possible reductions may be made public next week.

Reductions have already been made within certain areas, including teacher-librarians, career and work experience, technology, division office staff and educational associate support, according to the division.

“We may have the ability to make choices,” read the letter to parents, “but there are no good choices to be made given the inadequate funding that the school division is receiving from the province.”

The division also expressed its thanks to those who provided feedback, apologizing for “any emotion and hardship” experienced by affected families and asking them to direct their voices of the Ministry of Education.

Parent meetings scheduled for June 8 and 10 have been postponed until September.