Red Deer’s exit from Central Alberta Economic Partnership extended one year

A last ditch effort for Red Deer to remain in the Central Alberta Economic Partnership fell short of enough votes.

But, council has extended its notice to leave the partnership by a year giving more time to consider its relationship with the partnership.

Coun. Dianne Wyntjes made a vocal plea with her fellow councillors, touting the importance of regional partnerships, to reconsider a January budget decision to leave CAEP, providing a one year notice period.

Leaving the partnership would save the city about $40,000 a year.

”Red Deer is seen as the hub for Central Alberta. It makes sense when we connect and collaborate with our regional partners,” she said.

“It’s not about benefiting Red Deer’s economy but about benefiting the region as a whole.”

Wyntjes put forth a motion to reconsider the decision to leave and remain with the partnership. The decision was defeated with only Buck Buchanan, Ken Johnston and Wyntjes supporting it.

“It’s not our economic development, it’s our economic partnership,” said Buchanan. “We are the hub. What happens in a mall when an anchor store pulls out.”

In dissent of the motion, councillors and Mayor Tara Veer talked about the importance of region partnerships and continuing to work with CAEP in new ways. In January, council decided to leave CAEP after the notice period, but continue to work with the partnership on a project-by-project basis.

However, City Manager Craig Curtis put forth a recommendation to extend the notice to leave the partnership by one year. The extension would allow for discussion on economic development and tourism with the new council, after the October municipal election.

The two-year notice period drew universal support from city council.

Coun. Paul Harris called it a clear middle ground.

“It would allow time to work with CAEP to develop a different regional partnership model. The concern was we were signing a blank cheque and not seeing a return,” he said.

CAEP was formed in 1998 under the leadership of former Red Deer mayor Gail Surkan. Members include 35 counties, towns, cities and First Nations.

In other council news:

  • Council approved adding micro-distillery to its micro-brewery definition in the land use bylaw. This enables the small-scale production of spirits.
  • A $4.6 million loan was approved to the Canada Winter Games Host Society for the 2019 event in the city. The loan will be repaid on or before April 1, 2019 at a zero per cent interest rate.

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