Geothermal energy drilling will expand in central Alberta if the NDP is elected, says party leader Rachel Notley.
Notley spoke to the Red Deer & District Chamber of Commerce over Zoom Friday afternoon, where she discussed some of the issues Red Deer is facing during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s no secret that Red Deer, already dealing with serious challenges from the economic downturn, was hit even harder by this pandemic,” she said.
“Demand skyrocketed at every single social service agency, the city’s unemployment rate nearly doubled, vacancy rates went up, both downtown and in the industrial parks. … It’s been devastating.”
The United Conservative Party government has “taken Red Deer for granted,” said Notley.
Red Deer is young, vibrant, and welcoming. The people of this city deserve a strong partner in the province, and a strong plan for the future, she said.
Notley said her plan for geothermal energy development will help convert hundreds of inactive oil and gas wells in central Alberta into geothermal wells producing clean energy.
“We can leverage our existing expertise in drilling to create an estimated 10,000 jobs, helping get drillers back to work, many of them right here in central Alberta,” she said.
“And we can use our experience as a commodity in and of itself by exporting it to other parts of the world who see opportunities in geothermal, but lack something we have here in abundance – talent, expertise, and technology.”
Notley also pledged to fully fund and build the expansion of the Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre under a future NDP government.
“I promise you, if I am fortunate enough to be chosen by the people of Alberta in 2023, we will not delay any longer. This hospital and the health care needs of all the people in central Alberta who rely on it will be met. It will be funded and it will be built. You deserve nothing less,” she said.
Earlier this year, the provincial government promised $100 million for the first phase of the Red Deer hospital’s expansion. Only $59 million is pledged over the next three years, according to the 2021 budget.
Alberta’s NDP caucus will host a consultation session on the future of Red Deer May 27. The session will be hosted by Indigenous affairs critic and Alberta’s Future committee chair Richard Feehan, agriculture critic Heather Sweet and transportation critic Lorne Dach. To register, visit www.AlbertasFuture.ca.