Red Deer’s five mayoral candidates turned their attentions to promoting a healthy community in the latest all-candidates forum sponsored by the Primary Care Network.
Chad Mason tipped his hat to the city’s well-used recreation facilities and park systems. If elected, Mason committed to maintaining the city’s recreation, parks and culture budget.
“Anyone who is elected to council should demonstrate they are living a healthy lifestyle,” said Mason. “Hopefully others will emulate that. Motivation is contagious. It all starts individually, but we can affect others.”
Mason used humour, which he said is one of the keys to healthy living and communities.
“It would be best if we could all find our optimum health but let’s not take health, well-being or our lives too seriously,” he said. “In the end no one makes it out alive.”
Dennis Trepanier used his time to blast the bike lane pilot which he called “a horrible way to do things.” He said the city’s responsibility is potholes, snow removal, policing and recreation.
“You don’t want to sacrifice the safety of the citizens or spend $1 million foolishly,” he said.
“Let’s just put that on the table. I think it is totally misdirected. If it’s trying to cure obesity, I don’t think this is the way to do it.”
Trepanier said promoting health and wellness in the community is about understanding the issue. He suggested partnering with organizations like the Red Deer Boxing Club to promote fitness.
William Horn said parents need to get their children off the video games and into the neighbourhoods. He talked about his active childhood and the values he learned from his grandfather.
“I grew up with a pair of skates, a football, a stick and a baseball,” said Horn.
“I think those are some of the things we need to promote in our youth today. And promote the values of yesteryear to get our community active. I believe the city has done a lot today with the promotion of new facilities but I think the people need to get involved.”
Horn said the youth today look up to sports heroes.
He suggested encouraging the Red Deer Rebels to be more active in the neighbourhood.
“Bring them out to the rink,” said Horn. “See how many people are playing hockey instead of watching video games. Interactive with their heroes. I think this is what we need to do.”
Coun. Cindy Jefferies outlined some of the city’s efforts over the last 10 years including reducing homelessness, poverty reduction strategies, the Environmental Master Plan, reducing tobacco use, improving walkability. She said continuing work on the themes of movement, design and safety within the city’s strategic direction is a priority.
“It’s only beginning and influence the organization,” said Jefferies. “As it takes hold we will see and feel more progress. We also need to continue to work on the long-awaited social master plan, which will bring welcome focus to our city’s work.”
Jefferies said making cycling a vital and safe option in the community and improving the transit service by are on her radar. She said the new council should focus on health and wellness in the community.
Coun. Tara Veer said the next mayor and council needs to protect its existing health assets including Red Deer’s regional ambulance dispatch and staying resolute in the message to the province for keeping Michener Centre pool and residences open. Veer said she would like to follow through on establishing a youth substance treatment facility in the region, more public input on pesticide use and make formal cases to the federal and provincial governments for independent peer-reviewed research on fluoride. She said this will help resolve the ongoing community debate.
“Finally we need to respond to community frustration with vehicle noise,” said Veer. “We need to position Red Deer well for a healthier future by supporting disability access through our infrastructure and pedestrian and cycling infrastructure but integrates well with established and new transportation infrastructure.”
The Red Deer Chamber of Commerce hosts the next all-candidates forum on Oct. 17 at Westener Park. The forum gets underway at 6:30 p.m. with doors open at 6 p.m.