The City of Red Deer started collecting ideas and feedback from residents at the Budget 2018 Open House on Wednesday.
Staff from city departments and city councillors answered questions and sought input during the three-hour event at Festival Hall.
Mayor Tara Veer said Red Deerians often wonder if attending the open house really matters.
“We can unequivocally say that we do use the feedback to build the budget. Over the past couple of years our citizens have identified crime and public safety, transportation, and general municipal core services as their priority areas and we have endeavoured to be responsive to those core areas in the budget,” Veer said at the open house.
She said the city also wants to know what types of city services residents want and whether existing services should be enhanced or reduced.
“We want to be a responsive local government and for us to be responsive to the needs and interests and priorities of Red Deerians we want to have ongoing conversations with Red Deerians. Our hope is we can work with Red Deerians before there are significant problems so that we can address things on the front end.”
Early on in the open house she heard from residents about snow removal, the local economy and the affordability of living and doing business in Red Deer.
She said when it comes to snow removal progress has been made on major roadways, trails, sidewalks and for transit.
“The one area we have not resolved and I suspect would need addressing in 2018, potentially the 2019 budget, would be the residential side streets,” Veer said.
Red Deerian Joe Smith said he attends the budget open house regularly to find out what the city has done, is doing and will do next.
“I would like to see more people get involved in the issues of Red Deer. It’s such a nice city and we’re growing,” Smith said.
But it may be that people are happy with what’s happening in the city and that’s why they skip these events, he said.
Fred Scaife, executive director of Red Deer Food Bank, said he attends because he wants to be an informed citizen.
“I think it’s important to know how the city is spending money and why they’re spending money and this helps answer a lot of those questions,” Scaife said.
And it’s an opportunity to learn something new about Red Deer, he said.
“I just found out we’re getting a bunch of new city buses that are going to operated off of compressed natural gas rather than diesel which makes them a lot more environmentally friendly. I think it’s a good idea.”