Local briefs – February 9

Get ready for your utility rates to go up on March 1. Red Deer city council gave its endorsement to bylaw changes on Monday, paving the way for increases in garbage pickup, landfill tipping, wastewater and water use.

Utility rates rise March 1

Get ready for your utility rates to go up on March 1.

Red Deer city council gave its endorsement to bylaw changes on Monday, paving the way for increases in garbage pickup, landfill tipping, wastewater and water use.

Water rates will go up 12 per cent, in part to help with water treatment upgrades. Red Deer’s 2010 water rates were the second lowest among 15 Alberta cities and 10 per cent below the median.

Wastewater rates are rising 8.4 per cent.

Residents will pay 7.3 per cent more for garbage and yard waste collection. Fees are being hiked to cover increases in contracted costs.

Landfill tipping fees will increase seven per cent. The minimum charge for dropping off goods at the landfill will rise to $7 from $5.

Recycling fees will stay the same for residents, while multi-family residents will see a 22 per cent reduction.

Councillor Chris Stephan said he would like to see the rates based on how much one consumes, so that the fees end up being variable versus fixed.

Mayor Morris Flewwelling replied that this suggestion will be considered for 2012.


Prisoner pleads guilty to assault

A federal prisoner has pleaded guilty to aggravated assault after an inmate was stabbed with a sharpened metal spoon at Bowden Institution more than two years ago.

Joseph Alexander Mason, 46, pleaded guilty on Monday in connection with the Nov. 14, 2008, incident. Sentencing will take place in Red Deer provincial court on Feb. 28.

An attempted murder charge was dropped. A four-week trial was scheduled to begin on Tuesday.

The 47-year-old victim suffered stab wounds to his abdomen, chest and back.


Clearwater overhauls website

Clearwater County has jazzed up its website.

The online overhaul was done “in an effort to improve citizen education and engagement and increase transparency of municipal operations and insight into council’s short-term, medium-term and long-term plans,” says a news release from the county in west Central Alberta.

The website breaks down information among a number of categories: residents, business, visitors, council and departments. County highlights, events calendar, a section for frequently asked questions and improved search features.

Council agendas and minutes are also available.

Special website features can also be triggered to provide emergency information.

The new website can be seen at www.clearwatercounty.ca


Property assessment appeal period ends March 21

Any Red Deer resident wishes to appeal their property assessments must do so before March 21.

The City of Red Deer mailed out assessment notices on Jan. 19.

Those with concerns about their property value must first call the city’s assessment office and arrange to speak with an assessor. The number is 403-342-8126.

If the individual isn’t satisfied after speaking with the assessor, then a formal appeal must be given. The information on how to do this would be shown on the property assessment notice.

For more information about appeals, call the Clerk of the Regional Assessment Review Board at 403-342-8132.


Red Deer break-in suspect still sought by police

Red Deer City RCMP are still searching for a male suspect who broke into two businesses in Gaetz Avenue Crossing in south Red Deer early on Feb. 4.

Booster Juice and Marble Slab Creamery were broken into overnight and entry was gained by smashing a window in both instances.

Police reviewed security footage located in one of the businesses and determined the break and enters occurred just before 3:30 a.m. on Feb. 4.

The suspect targeted the tills and an undisclosed amount of cash was taken.

The male covered his face with a dark coloured scarf or bandana.

He was wearing blue jeans, a grey hoodie, white gloves and black footwear.

Police continue to investigate the incident with the assistance of the RCMP Forensic Identification Section.

Anyone with information regarding this crime or the identity of the suspect is asked to contact Red Deer City RCMP at 403-343-5575.

Those who wish to remain anonymous can call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or report it online at www.tripsumbit.com. Tipsters are eligible for a cash reward of up to $2,000 if information leads to an arrest.


Innisfail police arrest robbery suspects

Innisfail RCMP have arrested three males following an armed robbery at a 24-hour gas station and convenience store early Monday morning.

The males were wearing disguises when they entered the business around 4 a.m.

One male immediately began assaulting the lone male employee while the other two loaded cigarettes into bags before fleeing the scene in a vehicle, police allege.

The victim suffered injuries that did not required medical attention.

The police investigation promptly resulted in three arrests.

Thomas Hanger, 18, of Innisfail has been charged with robbery with violence, using a disguise with intent and possession of a weapon for dangerous purpose.

Police will not disclose the type of weapon but said it was not a gun.

He has been remanded in custody and will appear in Red Deer provincial court on Thursday.

A 15-year-old male from Innisfail has been charged with robbery with violence, using a disguise with intent and breach of an undertaking. He will appear in Red Deer provincial court on Feb. 17.

A 16-year-old male from Innisfail has been charged with robbery with violence and using a disguise with intent. He is scheduled to appear in Red Deer provincial court on Thursday.


Small communities studied

The City of Red Deer will give initial feedback on a report looking at how to help struggling small communities.

The proposed provincial Municipal Sustainability Strategy will give communities enhanced tools to look closely at their strengths and assets as well as identify challenges and respond to them.

The report of the Municipal Sustainability Strategy Working Group says that some municipalities continue to struggle despite having support legislatively and financially.

“In particular, many of Alberta’s smaller municipalities have experienced a continuing population decline over the past decade, and some have seen reductions in their local assessment base,” says the report.

The Alberta government and Alberta’s major municipal associations recognize the need for additional tools to enhance municipal sustainability.

One key question the working group has asked is: what basic services should a municipality provide?

The report lists various services such as fire protection and transportation.

City councillor Paul Harris also suggested “arts and culture” which wasn’t listed.

That feedback will be presented to Alberta Municipal Affairs.

City manager Craig Curtis said the strategy will be particularly good for municipalities that are struggling dollar-wise.

“There’s no question that our municipality is viable but for smaller municipalities, they might not be,” Curtis said.

The city should create better performance measures so it can chart its progress on certain issues or programs, he said.


Cat adoption on Saturday

Red Deer and District SPCA is determined to find homes for adult cats with its Oh, What a ‘Feline’ adopt-a-cat event on Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Cats six months and older will be available for $50 each, which includes spaying or neutering, vaccinations, deworming, and micro-chipping. Cats will also receive six weeks of pet insurance, Hill’s Science Diet cat food, and a checkup at a participating veterinary clinic.

SPCA cat adoption fees are normally $125 per cat.

Oh, What a ‘Feline’ is the SPCA’s second special adoption event this year aimed at finding more cats a forever home.

The SPCA has 60 cats or kittens available for adoption. Most of them are adults and 24 cats have been with the SPCA six months or longer.

“We intend to do a cat promotion every month or so. Hopefully that will help to move out the cats who have been with us for a long time and to promote what we do, who we are,” said Heidi Arbeau-Wood, SPCA development officer.

Since Jan. 29, 17 adult cats and seven kittens have been adopted.

Unfortunately, there’s no shortage of cats in need of a good home, Arbeau-Wood said.

The SPCA is caring for an additional 43 cats that are not yet available for adoption.

The SPCA is located at 4505 77th St. For more information, call 403-342-7722 or go to www.reddeerspca.com.

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