Veer looking forward to governing
Mayor-elect Tara Veer says the new Red Deer city council’s lineup will make for an interesting four years.
Veer said on Tuesday that the solid return of the five incumbents — Dianne Wyntjes, Buck Buchanan, Paul Harris, Lynne Mulder and Frank Wong — showed that the public wanted stability and continuity.
She said the new faces — Tanya Handley, Lawrence Lee and Ken Johnston — represent a good cross-section of the community.
“We’re really looking at breadth and depth in this council,” said Veer, 35. “Both in terms of background and experience, and the types of platforms that they campaigned on.”
She said the 2010-2013 council left with some feelings of divisiveness in the community.
“My hope is that we can resolve some of the issues in the community and put some of the divisiveness to rest.”
“It may take a little time to do this but I hope we can resolve some of those long-standing issues and move on to new and greater things.”
Veer said the resounding rejection a ward system made it clear that council will not have to revisit this issue during the 2013-2017 term.
Of the 20,364 voters, 13,315 said ‘No’ and 5,240 said yes to dividing the city into wards.
On the wide variety of issues covered in an Advocate pre-election survey of candidates, the new council members were split down the middle on their support for backyard chickens. Veer did not give a decisive answer on the issue on Tuesday because she said it was not pressing. She said, “Not generally, but am open to it if (there is) proper regulation.”
Lee, Wyntjes, Handley and Wong said no to backyard chickens.
In the survey, the new council overall put higher priorities on a lower crime rate, new recreation facilities, fewer potholes, a lower tax rate and improved park system. More bike lanes, weed control and new cultural facilities were low on their priority list.
On the issue of trimming the city’s budget, the majority of the new council said they would find areas other than recreation, culture, roads, library, parks and staffing to save money.
All members of the new council said they would support the city borrowing money to finance capital projects. Veer said “only when necessary and proposes a lower debt cap.”
The nine were on the same page in supporting a 50-metre pool. Veer said the pool must be scaled back and funding partners are necessary. Eight said the user fees for city recreation facilities should stay the same. Veer responded that she would like to see a decrease.
Lee, Handley and Wong said no to a year-long market while the others were in support. Veer said the city “should facilitate but not fully fund publicly” a year-round market.
Mulder was the lone respondent out of the nine who said less money should be spent on building sports facilities such as soccer fields and rinks.
Four of the nine — Wong, Handley, Veer and Johnston — responded that less money should be spent on cultural facilities such as libraries, museums and facilities. Veer said the city should maintain current levels.
The new council will be sworn in on Monday at City Hall. The next council meeting is on Nov. 4.
Veer’s answers to the Advocate’s survey were not published on Oct. 12. She responded after the deadline and her answers were incomplete.