College asks city for helping hand on milestone projects

Red Deer College will continue to invest millions of dollars into the economy but it needs financial assistance to help it to expand, said president Joel Ward on Monday.

Red Deer College will continue to invest millions of dollars into the economy but it needs financial assistance to help it to expand, said president Joel Ward on Monday.

Ward made a pitch to city council for $2 million towards several milestone projects that are expected to cost an estimated total of $10-15 million. Council unanimously voted to decide during its Aug. 20 meeting.

“There are lots of places (across Canada) that would give their arm for an institution like ours,” said Ward.

The college has been around for nearly 50 years and since then, it’s been a major contributor to the economy, Ward said.

Last year alone, 75,000 people attended the Arts Centre for various functions. More than 125,000 people participated in learning, cultural, sport or other activity at RDC every single year, said Ward.

The $1 million would be used towards four projects.

One project involves enhancing the lighting projection and image creation capabilities in the Arts Centre.

The college is also looking to partner with the Central Alberta Theatre to enhance the City Centre stage in the former Uptown movie theatre on 49th Street.

Program and space improvements are being considered for the Library Information Common. This includes investing significant dollars in technology and other learning resources.

The college would also like to enhance future growth at the Donald School of Business downtown.

Business school expansion involves adding physical space, expanding degree programs there, and expanding corporate and executive training.

The city has contributed to the college infrastructure in the past — $1 million for the arts centre 25 years ago and $1 million for the library 10 years ago.

The provincial government takes note when municipalities invest dollars, so this money would help leverage more dollars, Ward said.

“We see the city as a powerful partner,” said Ward.

He further estimated that Red Deer is in the bottom third of Canadian municipalities when it comes to donations to their own post-secondary colleges.

Currently, the college is home to a number of summer camps.

“The city shares the benefit, so we think they should share the cost,” Ward said outside council chambers.

On Monday, the college began its intensive lobbying campaign. Red Deer County and other regional partners will be approached about these key milestone projects.

“We think we have a compelling case and we believe they’ll want to participate, and the cost is shared,” said Ward.

In other council news:

• Red Deer Regional Airport presents its second quarter report

• amendment is made to drinking establishment licensing bylaw

• council receives report on education and consultation for fluoride. Expert/panel discussion to take place on Sept. 11.

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