Crime prevention centre gets a fighting chance

Big changes are ahead for the Central Alberta Crime Prevention Centre.

Big changes are ahead for the Central Alberta Crime Prevention Centre.

Red Deer city council approved a $143,000 funding request by a vote of 8-1 on Monday.

The boost will allow the centre to move to a larger space, increase hours, apply for matching grants and expand programming.

Councillors reasoned that they need to give the centre a fighting chance for the good of the community.

City administration had recommended floating the centre $75,000 in order to apply for the matching Community Initiatives Program (CIP) grant ($45,000) and to offset the operating costs of the centre ($30,000). Council heard that limiting the funding to $30,000 would put the CIP grant in jeopardy.

Coun. Ken Johnston argued that he feels uncomfortable limiting the funding request to only $75,000 to a hands-on agency that has a community track record that would have a benefit across the entire city. Johnston introduced the motion to fund the entire $143,000 request.

“For me it’s time to come to the table and support an organization that we had faith in a couple years ago,” said Johnston. “We need to be able to say we’re committed to crime prevention. We are committed to this particular agency and we have faith in their operations.”

Coun. Lawrence Lee voted against the motion because he did not believe this crime prevention and safety model is the right one for the city. Lee said he could not support the request because there was not a solid program in place showing that the use of the funds will be used responsibility to drive the initiatives.

“What I see before us is a request for funding without a strategic plan … but I do see the community importance,” said Lee. “I have to look at an effective, fiscally responsible decision as to where to put these dollars that are coming after an operating budget that was already approved by this council.”

Coun. Lynne Mulder said part of the money will allow the centre to develop its strategic plan.

“I feel good about this,” said Mulder. “This is the amount they came up with. I think they have shown leadership.”

Coun. Buck Buchanan said the centre has been working very hard and has brought programs together to make the city a better place. He said crime prevention is always at the top of the city’s Ipsos Reid surveys and a $143,000 investment is fairly minimal.

The centre will report back to the city on a quarterly basis as part of the funding agreement.

“We are very excited about the vote of confidence from council,” said TerryLee Ropchan, the centre’s executive director. “We look forward to working with them and doing some good things out in the community.”

Ropchan told council that the existing space at 4711-51st Ave is not big enough to house an entire crime prevention centre. Ropchan said they are hoping to find a new space that’s a “little less office and more like a centre” to operate programs and to develop new ones.

She said the centre will be working with the city to find an appropriate location in the downtown core. Plans for new spring and summer initiatives are already in the works.

Ongoing funding for the centre will be considered during the 2015 operating budget deliberations. Council had approved $19,530 in 2012 and $29,000 in 2013 to offset costs.

In other council news:

l Council approved the first reading of the utility bylaw that sets the 2014 rates for water, wastewater, garbage pick up and recycling fees. Council considers second and third reading on Feb. 18.

l A new medical facility may be joining the streetscape at 4922- 55nd Street. Council gave first reading to a bylaw amendment that would allow a health and medical services. A public hearing is slated at 6 p.m. on March 17.

l The Central Alberta Crime Prevention Centre and the City of Red Deer will host the Smarter Crime Control: An Agenda for Action with Irvin Waller on Feb. 26 at Westerner Park. The presentation runs from noon to 2 p.m. followed by a community conversation from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

l Council also passed the Business Revitalization Zone Bylaw Amendment that establishes the BRZ rate at 0.99518 per cent for 2014.

crhyno@bprda.wpengine.com

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