City debt and downtown parking were among the hodgepodge of issues addressed by candidates jostling for the mayor’s job at a forum on Tuesday.

Mayoral hopefuls make their case (full video)

City debt and downtown parking were among the hodgepodge of issues addressed by candidates jostling for the mayor’s job at a forum on Tuesday.



City debt and downtown parking were among the hodgepodge of issues addressed by candidates jostling for the mayor’s job at a forum on Tuesday.

The five hopefuls — William Horn, Cindy Jefferies, Chad Mason, Dennis Trepanier and Tara Veer — were all present and shared their platform before taking questions from a packed auditorium at City Centre Stage.

Explaining the city’s debt of $199 million was the first question from the floor.

Veer, a third-term councillor, said she takes a balanced approach to the city’s debt. She said there’s a trend for Alberta municipalities to go above and beyond the debt limit.

Veer said she was behind putting the move to cap the debt (at 90 per cent) and now part of her mayoral platform is to reduce the debt cap to 75 per cent because it is a conservative and responsible approach.

“It still allows us to fulfill our 10-year capital plan but it doesn’t cripple our population in terms of debt servicing as well as some of … the facilities costs,” said Veer.

Mason said the city incurred the debt to build the water treatment plant. He said the debt limit is absolutely useless.

“The only number that matters when you are considering debt is zero,” said Mason. “That’s the number if you go into debt, you try to get back to that number. In 2015/16 we’re going to hit the debt peak. If you’re going to hit that peak and hit down … the money has to come from somewhere. We have to save a bit. We have to sacrifice a bit.”

Horn said it is all well and good to say what the city can afford. He said the city should ask residents what they can afford.

“I think the city is taking just a little too much out of your pocket,” said Horn. “I think we need to get back to the basics and keep it down to the cost of living index.”

Jefferies, also a third-term councillor, said the city borrows for capital not for operating expenses. She said when the city borrows, the city always has a plan to pay it back. She said currently 68 per cent of the debt is related to self-supported activities like utilities.

“Right now our actual debt as of December 2012 is 46 per cent of the debt limit as set by the province,” said Jefferies. “Our city practice has always been to remain well under the provincially prescribed debt limit and now we have put it into policy.”

Trepanier said debt is a serious issue and something that cannot be taken lightly. Trepanier said Red Deer needs to stop following the trend of other municipalities by growing its debt.

Attracting businesses to the downtown when there is a parking crunch was also addressed by candidates.

Jefferies said the city is starting to shift at how it looks and deals with parking and the amount of money invested in parking spaces. She suggested encouraging business employees to use Sorensen Station Parkade and using alternate forms of transportation.

Veer said the land use bylaw is always under review which is something the city can do as the downtown continues to revitalizes. Veer said there’s capacity in the existing downtown parking. On the same page as Jefferies, Veer said part of the answer is to encourage downtown workers who use on-street parking to switch over to the city’s parkade.

Horn said there has been enough money put into the downtown and it’s time for the private sector to look at the opportunities.

Next up on the forum circuit is an all-candidates Construction, Development and Real Estate Forum tonight at the Red Deer Lodge. The forum runs from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Watch the entire mayoral forum online at bprda.wpengine.com

crhyno@bprda.wpengine.com

Just Posted

Alberta to face mild recession in 2019, bounce back in 2020

The Canadian economy is showing improvement, but Alberta economy is doing the… Continue reading

Vandal(s) smash front doors of Red Deer museum

Facility was closed briefly until repairs were done

Memorial plaques stolen from benches in downtown Red Deer parks

City staff found at least 25 metal plaques disappeared last weekend

No representation from supervised consumption service on new panel concerning: Turning Point in Red Deer

The executive director of Turning Point says she’s “a bit disappointed” in… Continue reading

Red Deer seeking further public input on transit network improvements

Proposed new routes, improved frequency, connectivity and accessibility are all part of… Continue reading

Your community calendar

Thursday The Red Deer and District Garden Club hosts its annual Flower… Continue reading

MLS awards expansion franchise to St. Louis for 2022 debut

The prospects of a Major League Soccer franchise ever calling St. Louis… Continue reading

A look at five prominent doping incidents involving Canadian athletes

Canoeist Laurence Vincent Lapointe is the latest Canadian Olympic medal hopeful to… Continue reading

Vancouver Canucks general manager Jim Benning signs three-year extension

VANCOUER, B.C. — Despite five seasons of mediocre on-ice results, Vancouver Canucks… Continue reading

Henderson back to defend CP Women’s Open title, 12-year-old Liu also in field

AURORA, Ont. — Brooke Henderson remembers being rather star-struck when she made… Continue reading

Alberta to limit oil production to end of 2020 as pipeline delays persist

CALGARY — The Alberta government says some oil companies may have to… Continue reading

Canadian banks to report ‘solid’ quarter amid trade tensions, strong employment

TORONTO — Trade uncertainty may weigh on the Canadian banks’ upcoming financial… Continue reading

Manufacturing sales beat forecasts in June despite falling 1.2%, says StatCan

Canadian factory activity beat expectations in June as manufacturing sales fell 1.2… Continue reading

Most Read