Red Deer’s official birthday bash ended with a look to the future.
At a special Centennial Meeting of Council, attendees inside Red Deer city council chambers and those watching on the city’s website had a glimpse what shaped the city over the last century.
It was a time for reflection as the attendees including as many as 18 former city councillors listened as various speakers highlighted aspects of the city’s natural and cultural history and the people that shaped Red Deer.
Mayor Morris Flewwelling said it is important to retain the values that Red Deer was built upon including environmental stewardship, volunteerism, quality of life, affordable housing, entrepreneurship and collaboration, knowing the city will grow to about 300,000 in the next 50 or 60 years
“We have so much,” said Flewwelling. “So in our future we are looking to continue to be a progressive community.”
Former mayor Gail Surkan said the city has come a remarkable distance since it was born on March 25, 1913. She said it is not just the way the city has been physically built.
“People really have a way of engaging in the community and doing things together creatively that represents what is most important about our community,” said Surkan, who was the city’s first female mayor from 1992 to 2004. “When we are celebrating 100 years of a city, it’s good to reflect (and celebrate) back on that because it will guide us in the future.”
On March 25, 1913, Red Deer was incorporated as a city but local historian Michael Dawe said the history goes back much farther. Dawe said when the archaeological digs were conducted on Piper’s Mountain (Rotary Park) in the early 1980s they found evidence of camp sites going back 4,000 to 5,000 years.
Doris Jewell, who served on council from 1971 to 1974, still attends planning and recreation board meetings. Jewell and her family has lived in Red Deer since 1949.
“I’m not 100 yet but I am pushing it,” laughed Jewell. “It’s been a most interesting time to live to see it gradually grow. I was in business, too, so I was downtown, too. It was so interesting to see it grow. I think the growth has been handled very well. It’s not easy when the place explodes, which we almost did.”
Jewell said the city has done a good job of maintaining the park areas and gradually adding to them.
Former alderman Bill Scott served from 1963 to 1965 on council and was active on the city’s 50th anniversary committee.
“We’re still here,” laughed Scott. “The city has progressed … We have to keep our mind on agricultural and a few other things with the environmental and the economics. As long as we keep our dollar not in front of everything else we will be OK.”
Visit www.reddeer2013.ca for the upcoming centennial events.