The City of Red Deer is focused on improving business friendliness to give it a competitive edge, says Mayor Tara Veer.
Red Deer, like many other urban centres, deals with inequities when it comes to provincial funding for infrastructure and grants, she said.
“Every urban municipality is faced with competition with their rural counterparts,” said Veer.
“What works in one municipality doesn’t always work in our neighbouring municipality, and it’s always preferable we work together, but there are some systemic challenges that we have to resolve.”
The cost of policing and paid fire service is a major cost the City of Red Deer bears, the mayor noted.
The mayor’s comments were in response to recent remarks made by the County of Red Deer Mayor Jim Wood and the Red Deer & District Chamber of Commerce’s Reg Warkentin.
Warkentin, the chamber’s policy and advocacy manager, recently said business owners are often frustrated by the city’s taxes and its administrative burden. As a result, they’re sometimes persuaded to move to neighbouring municipalities such as Red Deer County and Blackfalds.
Wood issued an open letter Tuesday in response to Warkentin’s comments, stating the county does not “poach” businesses from the city.
“We do not see Gasoline Alley or the New Junction 42 Partnership Rest Area as being in direct conflict with Red Deer economic development,” Wood stated.
The city of Red Deer was among the hardest hit by the provincial recession in terms of its unemployment rate, Veer pointed out Wednesday.
The city has made strides in some areas to improve efficiency and eliminate bureaucracy, such as the building, development and licencing processes, said the mayor.
To cut red tape, the city initiated a full value-for-money audit of city processes. Veer said the city is in the process of implementing the results of the review.