A conference trip to Texas that saw five City of Red Deer officials attending was well worth the estimated $15,000 expense, Red Deer Mayor Morris Flewwelling said on Thursday.
Flewwelling, along with councillors Cindy Jefferies and Lorna Watkinson-Zimmer, Development Services director Paul Goranson and city manager Craig Curtis, attended the International Downtown Association conference in San Antonio, Tex., which ran April 25 to 27.
Costs for the five stretched from April 24 to 28.
City-provided estimates for each individual are: $550 for airfare, $1,500 for room, registration of $550, food and miscellaneous of $400.
Flewwelling said they don’t normally send five to a conference, but he said this was deemed a good idea when the city is making downtown improvements.
Jefferies is and has been the chair of the Greater Downtown Action Plan committee while Watkinson-Zimmer is active in downtown business interests, Flewwelling said.
Goranson would be curious about the technical aspects, like flow controls, of San Antonio’s River Walk.
Flewwelling said each member of council receives an allocation of money for attending conferences, business travel, etc., which is above their honourarium.
An annual budget of $37,772 for seminar and conference travel and $9,444 for conference fees is split across all elected officials and is then reported by individual officials in the audited financial statements.
Elected officials typically attend annual conferences put on by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities or the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association.
“After that, we usually pick and choose — normally we wouldn’t send five people to a conference like the IDA one,” said Flewwelling.
Flewwelling said the city was keen to get lots of information on the River Walk in San Antonio.
A similar river walk is planned for the Riverlands district west of Taylor Drive, except it would have small waterways and not boat canals.
“You always learn hugely when you travel,” Flewwelling said. “Whenever you invest in education and travel and learning, you can’t beat it.”
He added some of what they saw in the tourist city may become a part of Red Deer’s streetscape.