Plasco tops agenda as council sworn in

A project that would divert garbage away from Red Deer’s landfill must be a top priority after dragging on too long, says Red Deer Mayor Morris Flewwelling.

Chris Stephan

Chris Stephan

A project that would divert garbage away from Red Deer’s landfill must be a top priority after dragging on too long, says Red Deer Mayor Morris Flewwelling.

Flewwelling, officially sworn in on Monday as the city’s mayor for the third time, said he’s growing frustrated that the Plasco plant hasn’t come to fruition after about three years of planning.

Plasco Energy Group of Ottawa proposes to build a plant that would have converted 200 tonnes of garbage daily into a gas that can be used to generate electricity. Red Deer is part of the Central Waste Management Commission, whose nine-member municipalities would provide garbage to the facility. The commission’s contract with Plasco has since lapsed.

“We ain’t anywhere right now and that really bothers me because we should have been moving out of the landfill business,” Flewwelling said. “Plasco has been struggling with finances and the economic downtown caught them, but they haven’t had the support of the provincial and federal governments.”

Flewwelling said he wants to ensure people living in poverty are looked after during his third and final term. Creating more environmental initiatives, including encouraging residents not to use plastic shopping bags, are also important to him.

Each councillor has various priorities they’d like to address over the next three years after being elected on Oct. 18.

Lynne Mulder, re-elected for a third term, said she’d like to see the Plasco plant be completed as well and if it can’t be done, another “green solution” must be developed for solid waste. She’s also anxious for the city to make some strides on policing and crime prevention, and further making progress with the Greater Downtown Action Plan.

First-time city councillor Paul Harris said his top priority will be furthering community engagement and as part of that, will hold a public meeting soon to find out what council should be targeting. He’d like to hold “community cafes” through his term. Increasing recycling opportunities and seeing development on brownfield sites are vital.

Chris Stephan said he’d like to target crime issues in his first term by working with the RCMP, schools and families. He’d like to check into whether camera surveillance in the downtown is a possibility, and he’d like to see increased foot patrol by police.

Another political rookie, Dianne Wyntjes, said she wants to address the need for a 24/7 drop-in shelter for all, including youth. Wyntjes said the city must also pay attention to the Canada-European Union: Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement because that free trade accord will have an impact locally and provincially.

Sitting for a third term, Councillor Cindy Jefferies said the city’s finances will be front and centre, along with having more choice for pedestrians and cyclists.

Tara Veer, elected for a third term, wants to ensure Red Deer’s ambulance services and fire resources aren’t shortchanged by the province, and an all-encompassing transportation plan that includes pedestrian traffic is important as well.

“I’d like to debate our capital, operating and utilities budgets more thoroughly,” Veer added.

Elected for a second term, Councillor Buck Buchanan said he’d like to see council having the ability to drill down the base budgets, so the city can do things smarter. Third-term councillor Frank Wong said he wants to see more planning done north of the Red Deer River, particularly next to Queens Business Park.

Working with Red Deer County on the intermunicipal development plan is another priority, as well as synchronizing traffic lights.

Council’s first meeting will be held on Wednesday to deal with an unexpected glitch of the Central Alberta Theatre. It is seeking some municipal dollars to help pay for a $126,000 sprinkling system insider the former movie house, Uptown Theatre, that it plans to take over.

Council’s first organizational meeting and regular council meeting will be held on Monday.