Redford won't reconsider Michener closure
Alberta Premier Alison Redford responded with an emphatic “No” to the questions of keeping Michener Centre open and imposing a provincial sales tax.
But she gave a qualified yes to more arts funding — provided it comes from the private sector or other partnerships — while she toured downtown Red Deer on Saturday during Alberta Culture Days.
Redford, who stopped to purchase a painting of a robin by local artist Sue Barker, said she was impressed by the creativity she saw in the city.
After watching Metis dancing at The Hub on Ross and perusing art displays at a pop-up gallery on Little Gaetz, she praised recent improvements to Red Deer’s downtown.
Redford also watched children create art at a craft station in the former Loonie Lane building, adding “It’s nice to see kids inspired by other artists.”
When asked whether the matching government arts grants that were cut in the last budget would be reinstated in future, Redford would not commit to adding more provincial money. However, she encouraged Alberta artists to create new opportunities by partnering with the private sector, or educational facilities, such as post-secondary schools.
“There are lots of opportunities available . . . so that arts and cultural activities continue to thrive,” said Redford.
Regarding the fate of Michener Centre, the premier said her government would not be diverted from plans to close the institution, despite a petition containing more than 20,000 names.
The Alberta Tories are blamed for breaking a promise previously made to families that no Michener Centre client would be forced to leave the facility.
But Redford mentioned that of the 225 remaining clients, 100 would be allowed to move from the institution to group homes still located on Michener land — on the north site.
Although society has moved away from the institutional care model for the mentally disabled, “change is difficult for some people,” Redford acknowledged. She stressed her Progressive Conservative government continues to be “absolutely committed” to helping Michener families through the transition.
Red Deer North MLA Mary Anne Jablonski, who accompanied Redford on her downtown tour on Saturday, added that many Michener families who live outside of Red Deer are happy to have their loved ones moving closer to their communities.
While a study this week recommended that Alberta impose a provincial sales tax, Redford remained unconvinced.
She said Albertans pride themselves on not having one, so “we’re staying firm to the commitment we made as a government” to not impose a provincial sales tax.
Some local artists were pleased that Redford took the time to check out their displays. Barker said Redford was drawn to her robin painting because it was the anniversary of her mother’s death. “When her mother died, there were robins in the backyard . . . she said she was thinking of robins this morning.”