Like good neighbours who chat across the fence, Red Deer city and county have decided to start a running dialogue to address their mutual areas of concern.
Members of both municipalities will regularly sit down together in the spirit of co-operation and openness, as part of a Regional Collaboration Committee that will discuss growing partnership opportunities in the region.
The terms of reference for the new collaboration committee gained unanimous approval from Red Deer city council on Tuesday. Red Deer county councillors are expected to vote on it July 6.
Red Deer city Mayor Tara Veer said the goal is to build a stronger central Alberta by identifying new regional opportunities and through better, more efficient service delivery to residents.
The committee’s formation sprang out of the Intermunicipal Framework (ICF) process that is mandated by the government. The city and county then voluntarily took this process to the next level by establishing this new group to have regular discussions, said Tara Lodewyk, acting Red Deer city manager.
The committee’s formation signals “a long-lasting, mutually beneficial commitment to our region,” Veer added.
Coun. Dianne Wyntjes welcomed the ongoing dialogue, recalling a time about 15 years ago, when relations between the city and county were at a low ebb, with conflicts arising over how both municipalities would structure future growth and development.
This was resolved largely through the ICF process. City councillors anticipate more potential disagreements will be headed off through regular inter-municipal dialogue.
“Through our continued collaboration, we will strengthen an already positive partnership with our neighbour,” said Red Deer County Mayor Jim Wood. “This increased collaboration structure with the City of Red Deer and Red Deer County will be a great benefit to citizens and businesses in our region.”
Both mayors will sit on the collaboration committee, as well as two councillors each from city and county.
Prioritized regional collaboration matters, as outlined in the ICF, will be deliberated — including the community safety and social issues and economic development initiatives. Matter of joint concern will also include the provision of recreation, emergency services and other matters.
Red Deer city council heard that membership in the regional committee could be opened to new partners, such as airport or Westerner Park, in the coming months.
While the regional collaboration committee will make recommendations, city and county councils will still be the decision-making bodies.