Newspaper box pilot project OK

The City of Red Deer will help bring a local newspaper closer to residential doorsteps, at least on a trial basis.

The City of Red Deer will help bring a local newspaper closer to residential doorsteps, at least on a trial basis.

City council unanimously decided on Monday to allow some newspaper boxes from both local community newspapers, Red Deer Express and Red Deer Advocate, on city property. Each newspaper, owned by different companies, could set up 10 to 15 newspaper boxes next to Canada Post super mailboxes for up to one year.

The Express asked the city to allow vending boxes in neighbourhoods because it doesn’t have enough carriers to deliver the free weekly newspaper door to door.

“We will continue to pursue new carriers aggressively,” said Express publisher Graham Schofield to council. “In the case of newspaper boxes, we’re not asking the city to solve our problem, we’re asking that they help us facilitate this solution.”

Schofield said he shares concerns outlined in a staff report, such as possible rises in graffiti, litter and maintenance.

Other issues included whether these newspaper boxes would negatively alter the look and feel of the neighbourhoods.

“Should we receive any complaints, we would remove that box,” Schofield said.

Councillor Cindy Jefferies said she sees benefits, including the possibility of having less litter in the long run because people will have the choice of picking up a paper or not.

Administration suggested allowing Express newspaper boxes would open the doors to other publications.

The staff report indicates the Red Deer Advocate, once it heard about the Express’s proposal, approached the city about having newspaper boxes.

Advocate publisher Fred Gorman said no formal appeal has been made.

“We have a top-notch carrier force so we have no need to put out boxes in residential areas,” said Gorman later.

The city will create a permit system where publications would pay fees and that way, any municipal costs could be recovered.

• City council agrees to seek an administrative review of public arts policy.

• Proposed land use bylaw amendment to seek greater naturescaping is postponed for further feedback.

• City of Red Deer sets up its own “green team” to improve environmental practices within its own departments.

• Application will go forward on making Red Deer cenotaph a municipal historic resource .

• Council supports sending a letter to the provincial Standing Committee on a proposed Office of the Municipal Auditor General.

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