Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer (Screenshot by Advocate staff).

Utility bill deferrals, larger shelter space were announced by Red Deer officials

Water, sewer, waste bills can put off, if needed, for 90 days

Utility bill deferrals and temporary space for a larger homeless shelter were announced Thursday by Red Deer municipal officials.

The City of Red Deer’s virus mitigation protocols are already causing some financial hardship, said Mayor Tara Veer.

To help people who may have trouble paying their bills, Veer announced that residential, farm and small commercial customers can start deferring payments on water, sewer and waste utilities with no penalties for up to 90 days.

If customers defer payment, no penalties will be applied after March 19, but Veer asked that they call the city at 403-342-8111 to arrange for a repayment schedule. These will be determined on a case-by-case basis.

With limited services available at City Hall, customers are encouraged to pay bills online or by phone (www.reddeer.ca/mycity or 403-342-8203).

The city has also made progress on finding a larger space that allows for social distancing for people using the homeless shelter, said Karen Mann, the city’s emergency management co-ordinator. The temporary space will operate at Cannery Row (4946 53 Avenue), with costs covered by the Government of Alberta.

A six-month emergency re-zoning was made to allow Cannery Row to be used as an overnight and daytime warming centre.

The current warming centre will continue to serve as the queuing space for the Overdose Prevention Site (OPS). And detox will remain in the current Safe Harbour space.

“As we continue to navigate through this situation, we are committed to maintaining essential services for Red Deerians, and ensuring all members of our community are being taken care of,” said Allan Seabrooke, City Manager.

“We are monitoring the situation daily and will continue to make decisions that best suit the needs of the community, while protecting citizens.”

Other changes include:

– Suspensions of parking fees in the downtown until further notice. This includes metered parking and daily lots. The city is exploring options regarding monthly lots and will be communicating with pass holders.

-Photo radar units will only be stationed now in high-risk areas and around playgrounds to protect public safety.

-The city is reviewing transit operations and expects to announce potential service changes within the next few days.

Veer commended Red Deerians for taking the necessary measures needed to slow the progress of the COVID-19 virus. “We strongly encourage all citizens to follow the recommendations of Alberta Health Services.”

She was saddened today to learn of Alberta’s first COVID-19 death in Edmonton and expressed sympathies to the man’s family and loved ones.

For the latest information on COVID-19 visit alberta.ca/covid19. For the latest on how city services are impacted visit reddeer.ca/covid19. The city’s call centre is also open 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. for questions at 403-342-8111.

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Tara Veer, Mayor of Red Deer. (Screenshot by Advocate staff).

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