Crime and policing, supervised injection sites and snow removal, were on the minds of residents at Let’s Talk at Parkland Mall Saturday.
Coun. Ken Johnston said questions like “do you feel safe living in the city” got people engaged.
He said most answers to that question were positive, while some that were negative were pertaining to safety around downtown Red Deer.
Coun. Michael Dawe and Johnston agreed residents were not only raising questions and concerns, but they were also providing input and possible solutions.
For example, people want to see more police presence and more events in downtown Red Deer, said Johnston.
Dawe said policing – particularly property crime – was a major topic of conversation, because it’s something that affects everyone.
Coun. Tanya Handley said she heard residents don’t want police presence just in the downtown area, but in residential parts of the city, too.
Other comments from people were about cannabis legalization, potholes, homelessness and green carts, said Coun. Vesna Higham.
She said some residents have been under the misconception council is stalling those services, which isn’t true. She said because this is a health issue, these services “should be addressed by the province in a co-ordinated, comprehensive manner, not a patchwork, piecemeal approach.”
She said the province is definitely addressing the issue, “but not in a co-ordinated manner.
“We need more emphasis on treatment and addressing homelessness and mental health issues is critical,” said Higham.
Let’s Talk is an annual event hosted by the City of Red Deer in the spring. Staff representing numerous city departments and agencies were ready to answer residents’ questions about projects, programs and services.
Let’s Talk began in 1998 with just one booth, said Char Rausch, Red Deer corporate events specialist and event co-ordinator.
“Now our city councillors, our mayor, our corporate leadership, over 25 departments, and our affiliated agencies, join us yearly to talk about everything from policing priorities to green cards,” Rausch said.
She said it was very busy throughout the day.
“We’re extremely happy with the number of people we’ve had this year. It’s been busy since just before we opened at 9:30 (a.m.),” Rausch said.
Residents enjoy speaking with councillors and other Red Deer employees in person, Rausch said.
“We feel it’s important to give a face to the city and an informal place where they can be comfortable,” she added.