Concerns over crime and public safety were a common theme at Let’s Talk Red Deer, says Mayor Tara Veer.
Red Deerians shared their concerns, ideas and more with city council and staff during the annual event at Parkland Mall Saturday.
“I think there is a growing recognition of the drug trade and trafficking problem that Red Deer and region are faced with and how that’s fuelling property and persons crime in Red Deer,” said Veer.
Veer said there is concern over the social challenges the community is facing, including addiction and the need for more shelter space for the homeless.
But “a lot of citizens are … saying when they call 911 that they are getting responsiveness, so I think that’s a step in the right direction,” she said, adding there was a positive reception to the RCMP’s downtown patrol officers.
Other discussions with residents at Let’s Talk focused on snow and ice control, taxation, the economy and the implementation of a cart system in the city.
Veer said Red Deer will need to move forward on its strategic direction, which includes creating a safe community, with a revitalized tourism industry and strong local economy.
“The past year a lot of the issues we dealt were issues that came our way from the provincial and federal governments and it’s been challenging for us … to move forward on city council’s strategy direction.
“The key strategic areas of transformation for our community that this council has identified, we need to move very quickly on implementing them. Those are the areas that are responding to what we’re hearing from citizens. I think our citizens on the whole feel heard and what they need to see is action on some of those key areas,” she said.
The Let’s Talk event gives residents a chance to identify services in need of improvement, said Veer.
“City council and administration have committed to having open, transparent government. For us to do that we have to be in contact, regular contact and informal contact with the citizens we serve,” said Veer.
It’s important to continue having conversations with residents throughout the year and not just during the Let’s Talk event, she added.
“There are a lot of ways citizens can share their concerns with us,” said Veer. “We hear feedback from … formal forums like Let’s Talk, we receive emails, we receive letters, we receive engagement on social media, we have anecdotal conversations at the grocery store and community events.”