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One city councillor has transformed longstanding attitude

Ron Walter discusses Councillor Luhning and her stance at city council.
Trading Thoughts by Ron Walter

For most of her multiple terms on Moose Jaw city council, Dawn Luhning has been a mouthpiece for management, supporting management recommendations.

In recent months this longest serving councillor has transformed from almost being part of the woodwork to frequent questioning and probing.

She even took the almost unheard of comment from a politician when she admitted she was wrong about the success of the municipal airport expansion and the new authority's plans to turn the moribund place into a small industrial park.

It takes a lot of courage these days for politicians to admit they have been wrong.

By all accounts the municipal airport is developing into a busy place, something Luhning never expected.

Her take on the local airport for years has been this is a place used only by a few private and wealthy airplane owners with no potential contribution to Moose Jaw development.

Admitting she was wrong is not the only change of attitude by Luhning.

She was the only councillor to vote against granting the Moose Jaw Events Centre, aka Mosaic Place, management company, a $100,000 loan after the management company Spectra, won the concession contract.

Nobody else realized, or cared, that Spectra, since sold and was renamed, had millions of dollars in the bank at the time.

Giving the winner of a contract the money to start up is an extremely unusual business practice sets a precedent for future contracts.

City management has told council not to expect repayment of the loan because payment would only increase the deficit for the centre. Wow!

How dumb do they think the taxpayers are?

Of course Spectra now plans to repay $50,000 this year - no doubt a reaction to the public pressure once this loan information hit the streets.

Luhning has also been critical of city snow removal and other city practices.

One wonders what role she played in the council decision to not renew the city manager's contract when it expires next year.

The city manager saved face by telling the public he was retiring then proceeded to tell us he was looking for another post. Which is it?

By not renewing his contract, council saved the taxpayers a bundle of cash that would have accompanied any termination of the contract.

It seems Council had already made a decision. From those of us who watch the proceedings of City Council, it seems that the manager likes to spring things on the councillors, keeps things close to the vest and evade questions.

Hopefully, the new manager will be more forthcoming and have his department heads respond to questions from councillors, instead of seemingly being unprepared and shrugging them off to sometime in the future.

Ron Walter can be reached at

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the position of this publication. 

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