Red Deer’s new city manager believes Conservative government will be good news for municipalities

Allan Seabrooke comes to Red Deer from Peterborough, Ont.

Red Deer’s incoming city manager believes the new provincial government will “bode well” for the city.

Allan Seabrooke’s first day on the job was Monday.

Seabrooke said he followed the Alberta election and the platforms of the political parties from Peterborough, Ont., where he was most recently chief administrative officer and commissioner of community services.

“I think that this new government — from what my read of it is — is they will be very interested in moving us forward as communities,” he said during an introduction news conference at City Hall on Monday.

“I think they recognize the importance of us having some autonomy in our communities and to give us the ability to chart our own course.”

Seabrooke said he researched the city thoroughly when applying for the position and knows that crime and crime prevention are at the top of citizens’ concerns.

“If I’m going to go to a community, I’m going to be all in,” he said.

“Over the past five months, I’ve been doing a lot of research. I’m very familiar with the issues and very familiar with the strategic plan that council put in place over the next four years.”

Seabrooke is also aware of some of the pressure points in relations between mid-sized municipalities and the province.

Red Deer’s elected officials and senior managers have expressed ongoing frustration that Red Deer, as a mid-sized city, is treated differently than Alberta’s first and second largest cities.

In developing a so-called big cities charter, the province created two tiers of municipal legislation, to the disadvantage of the City of Red Deer and other mid-sized cities, local representatives argue.

“I know that Calgary and Edmonton both had special agreements signed with the province for guaranteed funding based on percentages.

“The next step will be Red Deer.”

While the United Conservatives campaigned on a platform of returning fiscal prudence to government, Seabrooke does not see that as signalling municipalities can expect to see provincial grants cut.

“I wouldn’t see the transfer payments going down. I think what I see with this government is trying to boost economic capacity and to produce more investment into Alberta.”

“We all know we certainly need to continue to develop our oil and gas industry. That’s very important to Alberta and, quite frankly, I think it’s important to Canadians.”

The United Conservatives, he said, appear committed to being a strong advocate for the oil and gas industry, a task that communities such as Red Deer also have a role to play in.

Mayor Tara Veer said Seabrooke was the unanimous choice of city council following a nation-wide search.

His first order of business will be familiarizing himself with the community before tackling city council’s strategic priorities, including ensuring a safe and socially responsible destination community that is an economic leader, while providing services with a citizen-focused approach.

Seabrooke is joined in Red Deer by his wife, a pediatric nurse. He has a grown son living in Ontario.

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