The result of last year’s municipal election isn’t the first thing that comes to Jim Scarrow’s mind when he thinks about the past six years.
Instead, it’s the city’s progression during this time that leaves him looking back with pride.
Council’s role during his two terms between 2006 and 2012 was “significant,” the former mayor said this week.
“That will be the legacy of all who served in those two terms.”
One of the areas Scarrow is most proud of having helped improve during this time is the city’s west hill area.
“Anyone who lived on Fourth Avenue West never left home when there was a cloud in the sky because they had 20-odd years of flooding basements. I mean, severe flooding,” he said.
Mayor and council pushed to have this rectified, despite skyrocketing costs associated with the project, spreading infrastructure improvements through a larger portion of the west hill.
The Alfred Jenkins Field House put a lasting touch on this initiative, serving as a keystone -- “Not unlike what the Art Hauser Centre and Prime Minister’s Park did on the east side of the city,” Scarrow noted.
“That facility has become a huge, huge asset to the community in terms of young people -- children involved in sports and fitness and the attraction of professionals to the community, because they want those kinds of facilities for their kids.”
Infrastructure improvements throughout the area have enabled two large housing developments to start up -- an initiative that’s ongoing, with construction crews currently on-site erecting houses and condominiums.
Expansion at the nearby Victoria Hospital property complements development of the city’s west hill, including addiction treatment centres and the Pineview Terrace Lodge, for which municipalities chipped in 20 per cent of the funding.
This is a departure from the 30 per cent required prior, Scarrow noted -- something he’d advocated for.
“I met with the health minister and said … we knew the funding would be required, but we were hopeful there would be more hands on deck than the City of Prince Albert,” he said.
With Prince Albert’s gateway to the north status, it’s not only the city benefiting from medical facilities, he told the minister.
Although the west hill area represents a big example of council decisions paving the way for change in the city, it’s all the little things that Scarrow, as mayor, was able to help initiate that kept him excited to get to work.
Scarrow, along with council and various others, was able to help the local Farmer’s Market move downtown, help the pulp mill re-open, add the poppy to veteran street names, initiate a $24-million water plant upgrade, retain a natural forest belt as a park along 15th Street East and create the green industrial park, among countless other things.
Looking back on the 2006 election that catapulted Scarrow into the mayor’s seat, City Hall itself has seen drastic improvements.
“It was not a great time, and it was also the time that the pulp mill was closing,” he said.
“There were a number of issues with regards to city council’s failure, I think, to communicate with volunteer organizations.”
During council’s swearing-in ceremony in November of 2006, Scarrow highlighted this as one of his top priorities.
"We will become a greater city if we provide the volunteers the resources they need to accomplish their work,” he said at the time.
Looking back on his goal, Scarrow said that he feels this has been accomplished, with volunteers integral in almost every facet of the city, from the Alfred Jenkins Field House, the Prince Albert Raiders, the E. A. Rawlinson Centre -- “They’re carrying us forward, literally everywhere.”
“It’s very, very clear that the city moves on the backs of their volunteers.
“The respect that’s needed by the council of any city is an important link to keep that chain moving forward.”
I hope that everybody finds that job where it’s a joy to go to work, and they can’t wait to go to work in the morning. - Former mayor Jim Scarrow
Re-building inter-governmental relationships was another big item on council’s agenda, Scarrow said.
“I think we worked hard at getting the city respected at every level of government, and I’m fully confident that was achieved,” he said, noting that all levels of government are now better in sync.
“Randy Hoback is a special member of Parliament. He has done a great deal for our city, and we’ve been able to do things together, sometimes involving council, sometimes not.”
With crime and safety concerns brought up during any election, Scarrow credits Community Mobilization Prince Albert with helping the city take a more preventative approach to crime, with crime rates dropping since its implementation.
Although Scarrow was chair of the city’s Board of Police Commissioners at the time, he in no way takes credit for the initiative, led by then-chief Dale McFee.
“Would it have happened under a different term?” Scarrow asked. “I don’t know, but I do know that it happened during our term, and maybe that’s the kind of incubator you want our committee to be, or your council to be … to look at ideas openly.”
One thing Scarrow was given direct recognition for was with regard to his support of the First Nations University of Canada.
In 2011, University of Regina President and Vice-Chancellor Vianne Timmons handed him the President’s Community Award.
“He has … demonstrated superb leadership in the area of Aboriginal education, particularly through his unwavering support of the First Nations University of Canada,” Timmons said at the time. “He has led a life devoted to the betterment of others in our province.”
Scarrow looks forward
“Retirement is a word I never really engaged in,” Scarrow said. “Very few people can golf every day of the week.”
Wishing the present mayor and council all the best in facing challenges present and future, Scarrow said that he’ll always be there to lend a hand -- a continuation of the way he’s lived thus far.
In addition to his 50 years in broadcasting, Scarrow has volunteered in various capacities, including with the Kinsmen Club, Kin Telemiracle, the Saskatchewan Winter Games, and a fundraiser for a multitude of efforts, among other things -- actions that led to his being named Prince Albert Citizen of the Year for 1985, among a handful of other awards.
“(I’m) always looking forwards, always prepared to serve in whatever way the mayor and council may ask me to do so at some future,” he said.
“You just never know when something will come up when they’ll need someone who’s been there, seen that. My role in the future is probably going to be at the level of community building, economic development and leadership -- those types of things.”
Looking at the new council, he said that he hopes they recognize the importance of the forest industry
“It’s going to be hopefully a council that will see the bigger picture,” he said. “That’s always the most difficult thing to deal with – what’s the big picture for Prince Albert, and where does the future lay.”
Between his 50 years in broadcasting, two terms as mayor and his personal life with wife, Helen, and their three children, Scarrow said that his life has been a good one -- “A charmed life,” he said, punctuated with a smirk signalling he’d found something pleasant to think about.
“I hope that everybody finds that job where it’s a joy to go to work, and they can’t wait to go to work in the morning.”