The Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre and the future 24/7 homeless shelter will be two of the major discussion points when Mayor Ken Johnston meets with multiple Government of Alberta ministers next week.
On Monday, Minister of Seniors, Community and Social Services Jeremy Nixon will come to Red Deer to discuss the shelter.
“We’re hoping for provincial approval on the site we roped them on a few weeks ago,” Johnston told The Advocate on Friday.
“We sent a letter to the premier a couple of weeks ago – we weren’t sure who the minister would be, so we just sent it to the premier. But now that we know, we got in touch with minister Nixon’s office last Friday and had a good conversation. The minister said he’d come down Monday. We’re looking forward to that meeting.”
Johnston will head to Edmonton to meet with three ministers on Wednesday: Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Nicholas Milliken, Minister of Municipal Affairs Rebecca Schulz, and Minister of Infrastructure and Deputy Premier Nathan Neudort.
The mayor’s discussion with Neudort will focus on the Red Deer hospital.
“This is the issue we really want to get some direction on and some commitment on in terms of time frames,” Johnston said.
“We’re hoping to bring home some more definitive guidelines and direction for the community.”
The mayor’s discussion with Schulz will centre around a change in government funding.
“The old funding program for municipalities was called the Municipal Sustainability Initiative. The government is phasing that out and bringing a new program (Local Government Fiscal Framework) to the table in 2024,” explained Johnston.
“We have some broad outlines on it. There are some good points to it and some not-so-good points to it. We’re hoping we can share with Minister Schulz what we would like to see in that program – essentially what we would like to see is more predictability in the funding of that program. Right now it’s a bit of a variability funding program and that doesn’t really work when you’re trying to build capital plans.”
Johnston’s first meeting on Wednesday will be with Milliken. They will discuss the Red Deer Recovery Community, which is expected to open its doors soon.
“We’re interested on the opening date and a bit more about what we can expect from a community perspective,” he said, adding he is hoping to see a “recovery summit” in Red Deer next spring, which will be a point of discussion during the meeting.