Preserving Red Deer’s history by digitizing old tapes recorded by the now-defunct local TV station CHCA was supported by city council to the tune of $55,000 over two years.
During Thursday’s budget talks, Coun. Ken Johnston noted the city no longer has a local television station, so the tapes in the municipal archives are an irreplaceable part of Red Deer’s recorded past.
Even the CBC is digitizing its old tapes to prevent a ”loss of language and cultural history” as information on many VHS and cassette tapes can start flaking off after about a decade, he added.
Coun. Michael Dawe argued that people increasingly want to watch stories play out on video, over perusing old photos and written articles.
If these tapes aren’t preserved, someone will inevitably balk that there‘s no trace left of sportscaster Ron MacLean’s early career, he added.
Council unanimously approved this expense, slotting $27,500 in each of 2019 and 2020, after being told time was of the essence, because of tape quality degradation issues.
CHCA was on the air from 1957 to 2009.
Council also supported the beautification value of maintaining downtown banners, and changing them out as needed on poles and streetlights in downtown Red Deer. Councillors decided it was worth spending $20,000, which includes working the cost into a future tourism plan.
Operational costs of relocating the city’s culture department to the former Central Intermediate School site in downtown Red Deer were also unanimously approved.
This includes $159,600 in operating costs for 2019, as well as $30,000 for the move, and $75,300 of ongoing funds in 2020 — reflecting higher maintenance and utility costs in running the larger building.
City manager Craig Curtis said these ongoing costs could be mitigated in future through space rentals in the new culture centre.
Councillors were thrilled with the new look of the building, which was renovated as a 2019 Canada Winter Games project. Coun. Dianne Wyntjes predicted it will “renew life and energy in the downtown.”
Mayor Tara Veer has heard praise from the community for the decision to save a historic structure.
Culture services is currently operating in a 39th Street building leased from the school board, but will be moving downtown in July.