Citizens bring ideas as city budget discussions begin

City Hall bigwigs joined a pool man and parks enthusiast on Monday to discuss the 2010 municipal budget.

City Hall bigwigs joined a pool man and parks enthusiast on Monday to discuss the 2010 municipal budget.

With nine months to go before formal budget discussions, city administration and politicians invited residents to say what Red Deer’s priorities should be next year.

Jack Cuthbertson of the Central Alberta Aquatic Society would like to see a new aquatic centre become a critical issue next year, with the intent of it becoming Red Deer’s centennial project for 2013. By doing so, provincial grants would flood in for the 50-metre swimming pool.

“Opportunities for aquatics are very limited,” said Cuthbertson during the open house at Westerner Park’s Harvest Centre

Lois Hornung said the city must keep parks a top priority.

She’d also like bylaw enforcement patrols in the dog off-leash park of Three Mile Bend.

Hornung also said it’s vital the city be sensitive to the impacts that infrastructure or road changes have on existing neighbourhoods, like Bower.

Jack Kofin encouraged the city to use the former civic yards for extra office space, rather than renting more space downtown.

“Use existing facilities,” he said.

Another woman said she’d like to see day passes for Red Deer Transit, and closed shelters with heating and air-conditioning at the downtown transit terminal.

“I believe we should have a commercial tax rate that is attractive,” said Toby Lampard. “I don’t want to see the city overtax and chase investment away.”

Lloyd Dickson frowned on the extravagant entrance into Red Deer’s civic yards.

“When you build your new extension to City Hall, make sure it’s a working place. It’s not a display case.”

Councillor Lorna Watkinson-Zimmer was glad to be reminded of being sensitive to changes affecting older neighbourhoods.

She also liked hearing new ideas, including having temperature changes for bus shelters although she didn’t think that idea was feasible.

About 20 people turned up at the meeting.

“We have not traditionally involved the public at the outset of the budget,” Curtis said.

People were invited to give written comments as well.

Mayor Morris Flewwelling said he expects a lot of “the meat” will be gleaned from those questionnaires.

He said council will begin having workshops in the next couple of weeks to outline priorities for next year.

The same questions will be asked through a telephone survey to be conducted in May, Curtis added.

Hornung said this meeting was a good idea.

“I think it’s a privilege to be invited and to have the opportunity to speak to your council,” Hornung said. “It’s forward thinking.”

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