More policing resources are being requested to increase public safety in Red Deer’s downtown. (Advocate file photo).

Red Deer’s mid-year budget could feature more downtown policing, higher Setters Place user fees

More budget considerations to be discussed on Sept. 4

Red Deer city council will discuss adding a sixth dedicated RCMP officer, as well as two peace officers, to the downtown policing team in next week’s mid-year budget.

On Wednesday, the mayor and city councillors will discuss several issues that came out of the 2019 budget deliberations in January — including a proposal for significantly higher user fees for recreational facilities at Setter’s Place and the need to cover a $682,000 cost overrun for a waterline being installed in new Central Park neighbourhood.

Also on the agenda is how to best spend the additional funds that were pre-approved for 2020 policing resources.

Protective services director Paul Goranson is recommending hiring an additional police officer and two peace officers to the downtown team, which is now made up of five RCMP officers.

If council agrees, this would boost the number of police officers in the downtown to six, plus the two dedicated peace officers.

“The downtown team would be expanded to a team of eight uniformed officers, with a focus solely on the downtown” to help reinforce “a positive sense of safety,” said Goranson in his report.

He noted that the two peace officers are needed to deal with offences that are bylaw, rather than Criminal Code related.

The proposal is cost neutral, since the salary would be covered by money put aside for additional policing next year. Goranson believes it’s an important change, since the community remains concerned about downtown crime.

Council will discuss user fees and rentals fees that are 70 to 82 per cent more for the improved speedskating oval and the artificial-turf football field at Setters Place.

The fee hike is being requested because of the increased cost of running these facilities, which now require a higher level of staffing and maintenance.

In the case of speedskating fees, a three-year implementation is being recommended.

For the synthetic turf field, the new rate would align with what’s being charged at similar facilities, including the ME Global Park in Lacombe.

Council will also consider setting individual fees for residents who want to use the speedskating oval when the speedskating clubs are not using it.

Meanwhile, the city’s chief financial officer, Dean Krejci, will ask councillors to approve an additional $682,000 of borrowing to cover an inflationary increase in the Central Park water distribution system.

The project’s budget has risen from $2.8 million to $3.5 million since it was approved.

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