The city tried to reach out to more residents by offering interpretation services for those who speak Spanish, Ukrainian, Russian and Arabic at its annual Let’s Talk event on Saturday.
As it turned out, interpreters from Central Alberta Refugee Effort were not in demand. But organizers said it was good to test the service to see how it might be used in the future as Red Deer works at being a more welcoming and inclusive community.
“It’s the first time. We wanted to try something to provide that extra service to people who are newcomers to Red Deer or prefer another language,” said Julia Harvie-Shemko, the city’s director of communications & strategic planning.
Mayor Tara Veer said one of city council’s priorities is to engage and dialogue with the community and work in partnership with residents.
“This annual event is a primary means to listen to citizens who maybe otherwise won’t engage with the city in a formal way. It’s absolutely imperative to our work plan. We take feedback throughout the day and we visit with many Red Deerians who come to us with their issues,” Veer said.
On Saturday morning she said main issues residents wanted to talk about at city council’s booth were the economy, household financial impact of city decision making and snow removal.
About 30 booths were set up in the mall where residents could get information from city departments and partner agencies and organizations that deliver services to Red Deerians.
Alberta Transportation was on site to update residents on the Highway 2/Gaetz Avenue interchange on the city’s south end.
“What we’re trying to achieve is separating the high speed traffic from the local traffic,” said Mike Damberger, project delivery branch executive director with Alberta Transportation.
The new interchange will accommodate increased traffic volumes on Hwy 2 by providing three lanes in each direction. One lane in each direction will be a service road.
Damberger said right now work is proceeding on bridges, some parts of the service roads and a new roundabout on the southbound service road in Gasoline Alley.
Once it’s fully functioning by the fall of 2018, if the weather co-operates, the interchange will feel very urban, similar to the new interchange in south Edmonton near IKEA, he said.