INNISFAIL - Janice Wing has been an Innisfailian for 29 years and has quietly been an influential leader in town and an even bigger one regionally.
Recently retired at the age of 62, she now seizing the moment to become a proud voice for the future on Innisfail town council.
“I’m retired but I still have a lot to give. I think it’s the sum of all parts from my experience that puts me here right now in my seat saying, ‘This is what I want to do next,” she said.
“I have the time but more importantly I have the experience. I have I believe the expertise. I have a firm handle on what governance looks like. I understand what the role of an elected body is, and I’m all in.”
Before taking her professional expertise outside of town in 2001, she was business manager for 10 years at École John Wilson Elementary School.
She has been an active member of the Rotary Club of Innisfail, and a member of several town committees, including the FCSS Advisory Committee, Welcoming and Inclusive Community Committee, Recreational and Culture Board and Community Services Committee.
For 20 years before she retired in 2020 Wing was a professional fundraiser, with half of that time a grant maker, notably with the Red Deer & District Community Foundation where she was executive director. She then became a member and chair of the Red Deer College Board of Governors at Red Deer College, and then served as the college’s director of community relations.
With her eye now on local politics, Wing said if she’s elected, she won’t be entrenched with an agenda of telling others, ‘this is broken and I want to fix it.’ No, Wing said she instead wants to inspire broader community conversations that will keep council better informed.
She wants to elevate conversations from ones that may have been too “granular” to those with a greater impact for a wider portion of Innisfail’s population.
“I am concerned about the helipad, I am. But more important to me than the helipad is what is the state of health-care in Innisfail?’” said Wing. “We’ve lost doctors because doctors have retired. Are we recruiting and retaining doctors in Innisfail?
"Is our hospital going to stay open, because the Alberta government has a report that suggests that it won’t because it’s too close to Red Deer. Let’s have that broader conversation about what health-care actually looks like in Innisfail, and what we need.”
Wing also wants Innisfail to reach outside its boundaries to find answers for future growth. She notes the town is a community of 8,000 citizens in a region of more than half a million where there’s plenty of resource support available.
“Why are we trying to do these things ourselves? Why aren’t we reaching out to the county. Why are we not reaching out to the other councils in Central Alberta to talk about economic development, community development or to talk about the future of strategic direction for the community,” said Wing.
“We don’t hear about it that much but we need to ignite that conversation, and council does not need to do that all by themselves.”
As for new council’s top immediate priority, Wing said it’s approving a budget that considers the reality that provincial funding will soon be cut, perhaps drastically.
“We’re going to have to grapple with taxes. We’re going to have to come up to speed really fast on what the fiscal realities,” said Wing. “Making some good fiscal decisions is going to be first.”