Red Deer budget draft focuses on core projects

Red Deer city council will take a critical eye to a $105-million capital budget starting today.

Red Deer city council will take a critical eye to a $105-million capital budget starting today.

The budget proposes to invest mainly in core infrastructure projects.

The nine-person council is expected to take all day discussing the proposed 2013 capital budget items, including road and intersection improvements, upgrades to water and wastewater infrastructure and crown paving.

Council will only consider projects planned for 2013, multi-year projects beginning in 2013 or projects that need additional funding in 2013.

City manager Craig Curtis said this year’s budget includes a number of projects that are related to core infrastructure, including roads, water and wastewater, and electrical, light and power. He said those items have to proceed because they go hand in hand with the residential expansion to the northeast and the industrial expansion to the northwest.

Curtis said most of the capital costs will focus on rebuilding and accommodating growth.

“The majority of our costs are very much growth-related,” said Curtis. “When we have these huge expansions of our water and wastewater plants, those are the things that are driving both our budget and any borrowing we do.”

Last year, council approved a $94.8-million capital budget that included a number of city centennial projects, including the Red Deer curling rink, the spray park, the skateboard park and the Timberlands Branch Library.

“We have some tremendous opportunities with the whole Riverlands area and access road into Riverlands is one of the biggest capital projects,” said Curtis. “So really the expansion of the downtown toward the river, the burial of the power line is key to our vision.”

Mayor Morris Flewwelling said there is likely to be no major tweaks to what administration is recommending in the budget.

“It’s pretty reasonable,” said Flewwelling. “It’s varied. It’s got expenditures in all our major areas.”

The big-ticket item is the proposed $9.49-million acquisition of the school site and recreational land in northwest Red Deer. The 60-acre site at 67th Street and 30th Avenue will give the Red Deer Public School District and the Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools 20 acres for future schools.

Flewwelling said now is the time to lay out the plan for what is likely to be a major recreation facility for the northeast quadrant.

“We haven’t lost sight of the vision,” said Flewwelling. “So the vision is still there and that’s what feeds the plan.”

The proposed capital budget also includes:

• The development of the Northland Drive Sanitary Trunk. It would cost $8.82 million but that is expected to be reimbursed by the South Red Deer Regional Wastewater Services Commission and the province. Council previously approved $4.3 million.

• About $7.56 million is proposed to rehabilitate 240,000 square metres of roadway. This will reduce the backlog of roads in need of repairs over the next 10 years to 12 per cent.

• Of the handful multi-year projects, council will consider approving $5.78 million for the Taylor Drive and Alexander Way intersection upgrades. The city would spend $210,000 in 2013 and $5.57 million in 2014.

• Two transmission stations in northwest and northeast Red Deer will cost $5.56 million.

• The city proposes widening of 19th Street, east of 30th Avenue to 20th Avenue. This will provide access to Vanier and Vanier east developments. The cost is estimated to run at about $5.4 million.

• Projects identified in the 2011 Riverlands Area Redevelopment Plan are also included. This includes a proposed sanitary trunk on 53rd Avenue, north of Riverlands, that would provide services to allow for greater density of Riverlands. The multi-year project would cost $3.595 million, with $1.5 million spent in 2013 and $2.095 million to be approved in 2014.

• The exhibit redevelopment and renewal at Kerry Wood Nature Centre and Fort Normandeau. The request is for $2 million, as part of the multi-year Waskasoo Park Interpretive Master Plan and Implementation Plan. Council previously approved $736,000. In 2013, $1.1 million would be spent, and $874,00 in 2014.

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