A new emergency shelter and hospital expansion will ease major problems for Red Deer — but Mayor Tara Veer believes there’s still more work to be done.
At the top of the city’s advocacy list is the need for more Crown prosecutors.
Veer said she’s asked the government to provide at least one or two additional prosecutors to the Red Deer Court House, even before the new justice centre is built, to help deal with a backlog of cases.
Funding for 50 additional Crown prosecutors for Alberta was announced in this week’s provincial budget.
As safety is a top priority for Red Deerians, city council will continue advocating for additional Crown prosecutors for Red Deer to strengthen the court’s ability to uphold charges and obtain justice for victims of crime, said Veer.
The mayor is heartened by the government’s continued support for a new justice centre, and has heard construction will begin later this year.
Veer feels this week’s provincial government investment in Red Deer’s social and health infrastructure is great news for the city — referring to the $7 million allocated for a 24/7 emergency shelter, as well as $100 million committed to begin the Red Deer hospital expansion, after a $5-million study determines the project’s logistics.
Veer doesn’t yet know how many beds the shelter will include, or where in the city it will be located, saying this will depend on public consultations.
But the mayor anticipates a larger shelter will reduce the 80 or so rough sleeper camps in wooded areas of the city that parks workers and peace officers have to clean up every year.
She also suggested a major feature of the shelter will be a larger warming space so that clients don’t “spill over” into the streets of downtown Red Deer, where merchants have complained they are scaring away customers.
Veer wasn’t given a timeline as to when the entire Red Deer hospital expansion will be completed. She noted the $100,000 will be provided over the next two to three years for the start of construction, including a cardiac catheterization lab.
She was pleased to hear the government has committed to a Phase 2.
The mayor credits the community’s “collective voice” around social and health challenges for drawing the city’s shortfalls to the attention of the province.
“We should all be proud of what we achieved together…
“There is still more work to be done,” Veer added. “We will continue to advocate, for example, for residential treatment and increased affordable housing in Red Deer.”
City administration will continue to review the provincial budget and watch for more details in the coming weeks.