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Alberta Hockey hall of famer Wally Popik joins race for council

Popik said he wants to work toward increasing council transparency, and evaluate city services to assess potential avenues for cutting back on spending.
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Wally Popik has a long history volunteering as a coach, administrator, and official for St. Albert's Minor Hockey Association and Hockey Alberta. SUPPLIED

An Alberta Hockey hall of famer has entered the running for St. Albert city council for the fall municipal election Oct. 18. 

Wally Popik, who said he has lived in St. Albert for about 35 years, has a long history volunteering as a coach, administrator, and official for St. Albert Minor Hockey Association and Hockey Alberta. Inducted into the hall of fame in 2012, Popik also said he has 25 years of experience volunteering in various roles for baseball as well. 

A power electrician by trade, Popik also worked in construction maintenance operation and as a licensed land agent until 1997, when he became a contractor. Now, two years into retirement, Popik has decided he would like to throw his hat in the ring for council.  

“I don’t believe the public trust is there for city council and administration with the ratepayers anymore,” Popik said. “A lot of that has to do with the reduction of open discussions which result in many unanswered questions residents have.”

Popik highlighted the city’s recent solar-farm project as an instance where he felt like the public was kept in the dark. 

“I’ve been speaking to ratepayers, and there’s a perception out there that city council and administration feel the taxpayers work for them, rather than the other way around,” Popik said. “I’m not saying that’s what they believe, but that is the perception, and I share it. Something has to change."

In addition to fostering trust in ratepayers, Popik said he wants to ensure city staff is working to identify areas of redundancy by going directly to city staff for feedback. 

“We did that in the company I worked for, and it was amazing how much excellent information came from those conversations,” Popik said.

Popik said this might result in reevaluating city services, giving the example of quite a few buses he had noticed go by with only one or two people, and street cleaning in the winter. 

“Is it necessary to keep staff on all night when it doesn’t snow for two months?” Popik asked. “I think there are opportunities that exist before we look at simply raising taxes.”

The father of five said one aspect he would want voters to know about him would be his approach to working with others. 

“I don’t believe in different status levels,” Popik said. “Everybody’s the same, they just have different roles. I believe in open and honest communication in government, and that needs to be more than just words that people say, it needs to be demonstrated.”

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