Gilles Prefontaine joins city council race


Desire to help build community leads to run for seat

Another candidate has thrown his hat into the St. Albert municipal election ring.

Gilles Prefontaine, 37, has announced he’ll be seeking a seat at the council table.

“I’m involved with a variety of things,” Prefontaine said.

He was chair of the now-defunct St. Albert economic development advisory committee (SAEDAC), has been involved with the chamber of commerce, is club director and a coach for the St. Albert Soccer Association, a director for Grow St. Albert and chair of Junior Achievement Northern Alberta and Northwest Territories.

This is Prefontaine’s first run for councillor. Both he and his wife grew up in the community and are raising their three children in the community. Prefontaine’s taking the step of running for council to help grow and sustain a community he’s passionate about.

“It’s all about building a community that, one, I love … but also that other piece of making it a place I can be proud of and that my kids are going to want to live here and stay here,” he said.

St. Albert is already a place many people choose to live, he said, and part of his desire in running is to help keep it that way.

Sustainability and balance were watchwords for Prefontaine, who listed affordable housing and streamlining processes for businesses and residents as potential focuses for him as a councillor.

“We don’t have as much in the way that really supports young professionals or seniors in terms of smaller housing options,” Prefontaine said, adding there’s a similar lack in services. “If we focus too much in certain areas what ends up happening is we miss out on others. It’s about balance.”

As for cutting through red tape for businesses and residents, Prefontaine said efficiency helps gain appeal for the community.

“As a community we’ve struggled with a perception, I don’t think it’s a reality but it is a perception in the last decade, that we’re a community where we’re perceived as a place where you struggle to start a business and run a business,” he said.

The perception that St. Albert is an expensive place to live means taxes are likely going to be a hot-button issue during the election, Prefontaine said.

“There is a little bit of a flip side on that one. It’s not as cut and dried as the dollar amount,” he said.

Residents of St. Albert chose to live here because of the services available, he said, and cutting taxes could mean cutting services and amenities.

Instead, keeping things sustainable for residents from all walks of life is important, he said.

Prefontaine is stepping down from his position as advertising director for the St. Albert Leader newspaper to focus on his campaign and hopeful commitment to council.

“The commitment from a council perspective is something that requires your attention and your priority,” he said.


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