Councillor’s promise kept for seniors

By KIRAN MALIK-KHAN, Connect Contributor

Dante Diaz chops off the iconic ponytail first, as Phil Meagher gets his haircut at Mike's Barber Shop downtown. PHOTO: Kiran Malik-Khan, Connect Weekly

Dante Diaz chops off the iconic ponytail first, as Phil Meagher gets his haircut at Mike’s Barber Shop downtown. PHOTO: Kiran Malik-Khan, Connect Weekly

There was nothing hairy about it. Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo Councillor Phil Meagher delivered on a promise made two years ago, and cut his hair on September 2, 2015 after growing it in protest to support local seniors.

“I promised to not cut my hair until the seniors got their long-term continuing care facility at either Willow Square or Parsons Creek. I made the promise on October 21, 2013. And, now that even framing is happening at Parsons Creek, I’m cutting my hair,” Meagher explained.

“I would be more pleased if it was at Willow Square, but I’m pleased that we’ll have a long-term care facility,” he added.

About nine inches of Meagher’s iconic ponytail came off, with another two inches chopped off in trimming at Mike’s Barber Shop downtown.

Meagher, Fort McMurray’s longest-serving councillor for the seventh term – and a 33-year local resident, says: “it’s all about supporting seniors” because the issue is near and dear to his heart.

“On the day of his death, my friend, Dave McNeilly (local politician/educator who passed away in July 2015) called me and said ‘you keep going’ when it comes to fighting for seniors, and I am,” promised Phil Meagher.

“On the day of his death, my friend, Dave McNeilly (local politician/educator who passed away in July 2015) called me and said ‘you keep going’ when it comes to fighting for seniors, and I am,” promised Meagher, who was on the Seniors’ Council, and is the Chief Deputy Superintendent for the Fort McMurray Public School District.

The original announcement for the long-term facility goes back to 2008, when then-premier Ed Stelmach announced a $35 million, 48-bed long-term care facility in Fort McMurray. However, a year later, then-health minister Ron Liepert opted to defer the funding, citing an urgent need was non-existent.

The controversial long-term facility has seen a back and forth between the provincial and federal government starting in 2011. Due to the nature of the project, and the need for expediting it, Parsons Creek in Timberlea was chosen as the designated spot, much to the dismay of local seniors, who are still in favour of Willow Square.

For Meagher, however, either location is a victory.

“This wasn’t meant to insult anyone,” said Meagher of his haircut, and the decision to grow his hair long.

– Connect Weekly –