At this time of year we should talk about people. We also should take time to think about how much we depend on each others.
Just before Christmas I was touched by how caring and dedicated our civic employees are. I had the opportunity to work with the most engaged and creative people inside city hall. These unsung heroes work quietly and skillfully and many of us never get to talk to them. When I do I am greeted with smiles, quick responses and desire to perform their jobs above and beyond.
Our outside workers are more visible but many don't know many work for us 24 hours a day. They work in our sewage treatment and water plants, they clean our streets, repair and maintain our infrastructure, they repair our equipment, machines and vehicles. They do this always under the sometime critical and watchful eye of you the citizens. Our people care about our city and have pride in how it looks, how it runs and how visitors see it. Next time you see them working for you think about how cold, slippery and dangerous it can be delivering service to us. Do you work outside in any weather, in any condition, in any circumstance?
Just after one of our huge snow falls in December someone called from Birch Lane and wanted to ask if the new council had changed the snow clearing program or cut the budgets because their lane normally is cleaned the 2nd or 3rd day after a winter storm. Well how is a new councillor able to handle this response? I simplely used email and sent a request to our Director of Public Works and the City Manager. I got a quick response stating that no changes have been made but we are down one grader and it was to be back into action on Monday morning. Monday our Operations Manager called and told me he traveled out to Birch Lane Friday night to check it out (Friday nights where are you? Are you worrying about your customers?) and found one of the wonderful residents had gone ahead and cleared the road for their neighbours. See this is what our city is about neighbours helping each other out.
The same week I had a call from a concerned citizen living around the water treatment plant. They were concerned seeing hazmat, police and ambulances arrive sirens and all. What would happen if they needed to be evacuated? How come no warning systems? Over all they were worried about their families and neighbours. I sent off an email at 9pm to the Fire Chief, City Manager and Director of Public Works to answer the questions. Again I was amazed to get a response within an hour from the Fire Chief letting me know how safe the plant is and how if it were needed, such as if there was a natural gas leak somewhere in the city how they would evacuate people by going door to door. I also got a technical update on the safety measure from our City Manager, who is a professional engineer with years of experience working with complicated utility plants and it's superior safety systems. The point in talking about this is we have experienced professionals that when the unforeseen happens they react and do the best they can to protect us and maintain our services.
The emergency at the water treatment plant shows how well our EMO system works. We have firefighters that don't just train for fires they train in the treatment plants, know the layouts, know the chemicals, know how to protect us and the workers from spills such as before Christmas. The firefighter and our staff are constantly training to keep us safe and when needed get us out of our dilemmas. Great people doing a fantastic job.
Another department is always in dangers way and on guard 24/7, answering phones, enforcing bylaws, helping families deal with the hardships of life and protecting us. Our Police Services allow us to feel safe and secure. We can never say enough about the rewards we get from our protective umbrella of men and woman there for us all the time. Without their caring and superb professionalism we would not be the city we are. Thank you one and all.
Last but not least I want to thank you the citizens that have endured and shown the world how we can handle adversity and challenge. We came together, supported each other and yes had patience to allow things to progress as it had to. You are the spirit and make Prince Albert the best place on this earth to live.
Thank you for allowing me and my fellow council members to represent you. It is going to be a challenging year we will need your confidence and understanding to be able to fund the challenges of our crumbling infrastructure demands and huge increase in union demands. At the end of the day it is you and I that must pay the bill. I ask for your understanding and confidence. Rick Orr