Red Deer city council debates the details of the 2018 capital budget

It’s a slower process because of tight economy, said Mayor Veer

Riverside Meadows revitalization project approved

A six-year Riverside Meadows revitalization project was approved by Red Deer city council – after a debate about neighbourhood equity.

Coun. Tanya Handley suggested at Wednesday’s capital budget meeting – a slow process that became a line-by-line debate on many items – that other older neighbourhoods in the city might want money for their own special revitalization projects.

She questioned why Riverside Meadows was chosen.

Kelly Kloss, the city’s director of development services, said the neighbourhood’s infrastructure was deemed in most need of being brought up to the modernized standards seen in other parts of the city.

Project management and engineering design, costing $254,000 in 2018, will allow for an assessment of aging services and infrastructure to determine how the Riverside upgrade should happen. Kloss said, if sidewalks need widening, roads need paving, and water or sewage lines need replacing, it makes sense to do it in combination, in the most efficient way.

Handley said she wasn’t arguing against the Riverside Meadows revitalization, but feels the city should have a process in place to determine these priorities for all neighbourhoods. Coun. Frank Wong agreed, saying it could otherwise be construed as unfair.

Mayor Tara Veer suggested a future discussion should happen. “Our objective is equity overall.”

Coun. Ken Johnston later suggested shaving some money from the $11 million in paving projects to reintroduce construction of a pickle ball court into the 2018 budget, rather than 2019.

But Public Works manager Greg Sikora said $4 million had already been skimmed off the original budget, and a further reduction would add to the 20 per cent of city roads that already need resurfacing. He added the backlog could plague the city In future.

In the end, the majority of council did not support removing more money from roads maintenance, citing good roads are a high taxpayer priority.

Veer acknowledged the 2018 budgetary process was taking longer than usual. It may extended to a third day if not completed Thursday. She attributed it to tight finances, a new council (or at least two new councillors), and council is not only approving the 2018 budget but also considering a 10-year capital plan.

Other highlights

l $806,000 was approved for replacing or upgrading customer electricity meters. Smart meters aren’t coming for a few years, but there will be a time when old meters are no longer available, council was told.

l A $654,000 upgrade to the cracked cement pad in front of City Hall was approved in principle, but it’s to come back to council for more detailed examination of the design, including whether the amount can be reduced.

l $641,000 for replacement of the City Hall roof and a Sorensen Station roof solar installation.

l $127,000 for a study on relocating and constructing the fire training facility in the city.

l $304,000 for elevator replacement at Red Deer’s downtown public library and replacement of wireless electronics and software.

l $807,000 for Collicutt Centre roof repair over the waterpark.

l $1.8 million for new expanded parking lot for downtown arena, including lighting, walkway, entrance, landscaping.

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