Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer responds to the provincial budget on Friday. (Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff).

Red Deer’s mayor expects provincial funds for local hospital and shelter will come in spring budget

UCP government needs to learn more details about both projects, she says

Mayor Tara Veer said she is “disappointed” about the lack of funding for a Red Deer hospital expansion and a round-the-clock homeless shelter.

However, she added that she received assurances that our community’s need for both projects is on the provincial government’s radar after meeting with the ministers responsible.

Veer expects to see more funds for both the hospital and the shelter in the spring provincial budget. If these two projects are overlooked again, she said “the response will be different.”

In a low-key press conference Friday, Veer explained the United Conservative Party government has only held power for six months and needs to hear more details about what’s required for both projects.

With the continued lack of shelter spaces — Red Deer has the fewest per capita in the province — she said this city has seen a lot of “social disorder spill over into the parks and downtown.”

But Veer said the minister in charge indicated a need to work with the City of Red Deer to come up with a detailed business plan, including the size of the shelter that’s needed, in the next few weeks.

In the provincial budget released Thursday, Red Deer hospital was in the same pool with two other Alberta hospitals to share a total of $1 million for project planning.

In last year’s budget under the New Democrat government, the Red Deer hospital project solely received $1 million to create a business plan for an expansion that studies show has been needed for more than a decade.

Red Deer has double the death rate from heart attacks than Calgary and Edmonton because of a lack of a local catheterization laboratory. The procedure involves the insertion of a catheter into the heart for diagnostic and treatment purposes.

Veer believes this year’s planning money will be used to determine how to do a phased implementation of the hospital expansion.

“We share the concerns of the community,” about the project not getting major funding, she said.

But Veer maintained that she got the sense, through her meetings with the ministers, “there is an acute awareness of our needs” at the provincial level.

She’s pleased that the new justice centre construction project is going ahead in the city, and that Red Deer College will continue on its path to becoming a university.

There is no word yet on how many of the 50 new Crown prosecutors are slated for Red Deer, but Veer said she spoke of the city’s need for additional resources.

She also hopes the city will get some of the new provincial funding available for drug and alcohol treatment, and will benefit from the $50 million investment over the next four years in the police ALERT team that cracks down on organized crime.

Funding to municipalities is frozen for the remainder of this year, and then will decline by nine per cent in each of the next two years. Veer said the city anticipated these “austerity” cuts and planned for them by removing $1 billion in spending from its 10-year capital plan.

An unexpected reduction is the 50 per cent over two years decline in provincial grants that the province gives municipalities in place of paying property taxes on infrastructure, such as the Michener Centre.

Chief financial officer Dean Krejci said the loss will be felt, but these grants only made up about half of one per cent of city revenues.

Krejci said that the city’s administration was ordered by council to keep the municipal property tax increase for next year at 2.5 per cent or lower, and that’s still the plan.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

red deer city

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Central Alberta woman receives North American award for leading Red Deer Regional Health Foundation

Manon Therriault at the Red Deer Regional Health Foundation has always embraced… Continue reading

Families displaced after Red Deer fire Sunday

A structure fire displaced two families in north Red Deer Sunday morning.… Continue reading

End of CERB means uncertainty for some, new system for others

In its place is employment insurance, which the government says the majority of people will go on

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Sept. 27

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4:00… Continue reading

WE Charity controversy prompts examination of group’s overseas footprint

On Sept. 9, WE Charity said it would wind down its Canadian operations

QUIZ: Do you know what’s on TV?

Fall is normally the time when new television shows are released

Nearly 1M who died of COVID-19 also illuminated treatment

The nearly 1 million people around the world who have lost their… Continue reading

Toronto health officer closes 3 restaurants as result of COVID contact tracing

Toronto’s top public health official has ordered the closure of three downtown… Continue reading

Canadian ski resorts wrestle with pandemic-vs.-profit dilemma as COVID-19 persists

CALGARY — Canadian ski resort operators planning for a season that begins… Continue reading

Tenille Townes, Dean Brody and Brett Kissel top nominees at tonight’s CCMA Awards

OTTAWA — Tenille Townes could be lined up for some major wins… Continue reading

Horgan, Wilkinson trade barbs over MSP premiums, health care at campaign stops

TERRACE, B.C. — Health care in the era of COVID-19 took centre… Continue reading

Watchdog to investigate fatal Winnipeg crash that sent two kids to hospital

Winnipeg police say a woman has died and five others — including… Continue reading

The ‘relentless underdog’: Green Leader Sonia Furstenau ready for uphill battle

Green Leader Sonia Furstenau was driving Monday when she turned on the… Continue reading

Mi’kmaq power, inside and beyond Ottawa, stronger than in past fishery battles

HALIFAX — When Jaime Battiste was in his early 20s, cable news… Continue reading

Most Read