Council reverses stand on ward vote

Red Deer residents will go to a plebiscite on a municipal ward system in conjunction with the Oct. 21 municipal election.

Red Deer residents will go to a plebiscite on a municipal ward system in conjunction with the Oct. 21 municipal election.

In an unusual move, Red Deer council reconsidered a Feb. 4 decision to reject a plebiscite on a ward system on Monday night.

Council voted 5-3 in support of adding a question regarding ward systems on the next civic ballot. Mayor Morris Flewwelling and Councillors Frank Wong, Dianne Wyntjes, Tara Veer and Chris Stephan were in favour. Councillors Paul Harris, Cindy Jefferies and Lynne Mulder were opposed. Coun. Buck Buchanan was absent.

Coun. Frank Wong said he was surprised the vote went through because Buchanan was absent. The three councillors had put the original motion for a plebiscite to council in February.

“People have wanted to have a say for the last nine years,” said Wong. “We’re going to move forward. Who knows? It may be against having a ward system but at least we listened to people and they will have their say.”

The reconsideration came on the heels of Councillors Lynne Mulder and Paul Harris’ successful motion to amend the dialogue charter, a major work plan looking at community engagement, to explore systems of representation including wards with the goal of how the community could be best represented by council.

Council may reconsider decisions if there are special and exceptional circumstances.

Mulder said her initial vote of no to a plebiscite on Feb. 4 was not meant in anyway to stifle public input. She said this is a very important decision that warrants a comprehensive understanding of what the problems they are trying to solve so they can find the right solutions for Red Deer.

Mulder and Harris both reiterated the importance of understanding the issues and concerns behind the debate between a ward and at-large system. They said that way council would understand the nature of the problem in order for councillors to make the best decisions for the community.

“I want to be really clear to the public,” said Mulder. “I am not opposed to hearing from them. In fact, I want to hear more from them. I think this reduces the question to a level to a yes or no answer when it is a very large and important issue. I am not opposed to a plebiscite if that’s what we need. I’m not in favour of one at this time.”

Councillors Dianne Wyntjes and Tara Veer wanted to take the motion a step further. Wyntjes said after a decision is made you always hear chatter on both sides in the community.

By adding a question to the ballot, Wyntjes said this will allow for ample conversations over the next seven months.

“I often believe politicians can and should change their minds based on additional feedback,” said Wyntjes. “I always believed the question of ward or not to ward is not a decision to be made by mayor and council in this room … For me the ballot box is one of the best indicators of community opinion.”

Wyntjes added the decision complements the other motion adding wards to the dialogue charter. City council directed administration to come back with a report within six weeks outlining the costs, plans and education and awareness strategy.

crhyno@bprda.wpengine.com

Just Posted

’Pick a lane:’ Alberta premier fires back at Bloc Quebecois leader

CALGARY — Alberta Premier Jason Kenney says Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet… Continue reading

Opposition calls out Alberta premier’s principal adviser over travel expenses

EDMONTON — Alberta’s Opposition says one of Alberta Premier Jason Kenney’s top… Continue reading

Inmate arrested, one on the loose after escape from Saskatoon psychiatric centre

SASKATOON — Police say they have arrested one of two violent inmates… Continue reading

Municipal councils looking for savings as provincial cuts loom

Innisfail town council freezes its pay and Lacombe considering 0% tax increase

Red Deer RCMP bait bike project results in charges

Several people were charged after Red Deer RCMP’s first bait bike project.… Continue reading

Petition to ‘bring back Don Cherry’ goes viral after immigrant poppy rant

Cherry was fired from his co-hosting role for the Coach’s Corner segment on Nov. 11.

Your community calendar

Wednesday Pain 101 class — learn to take control of your chronic… Continue reading

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh to meet with Trudeau today to discuss throne speech

OTTAWA — NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh is to meet with Prime Minister… Continue reading

Joe Pavelski leads Stars past Flames Dallas wins eighth game in past 10

Stars 3 Flames 1 CALGARY — Joe Pavelski scored twice, including an… Continue reading

Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberte in court in Tahiti over cannabis growth

MONTREAL — Canadian entrepreneur Guy Laliberte, founder of the Cirque du Soleil… Continue reading

Barack Obama says his approach to politics aligned with Justin Trudeau’s

HALIFAX — Former U.S. president Barack Obama made a point of highlighting… Continue reading

Don’t count on me to support western demands: Bloc Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau received support in his quest for… Continue reading

Southern Alberta village council burns proposed biowaste incinerator

BEISEKER, Alta. — A proposal to build a biomedical waste incinerator near… Continue reading

Most Read