Veteran councillor says Red Deer North getting a raw deal

A veteran Red Deer city councillor may be throwing in the towel on the twinning of the G.H. Dawe Community Centre arena.

A veteran Red Deer city councillor may be throwing in the towel on the twinning of the G.H. Dawe Community Centre arena.

Coun. Frank Wong said he is disappointed that his colleagues did not back his motion to move the project into 2016.

“I just thought I would give it a last kick at the cat,” said Wong. “What I think they are going to do is waste that $75,000.”

Wong had asked his council colleagues to honour what he says is a commitment in the 2008 and 2010 capital plans on Wednesday.

But council reasoned it did not make sense in light of an ice study currently underway.

The $75,000 study will be completed in early 2016 and will determine where there is a need for more ice rinks.

Coun. Ken Johnston said he looks forward to the report which will “objectively flush” out the issue.

Mayor Tara Veer said those previous capital plans were never adopted formally rather they were “placeholder” items for the future.

She said there has been key changes since 2010 including scaled back MSI funding, the securing of the 2019 Canada Winter Games and a partnership with Red Deer College for the ice surface. There was also the unexpected rebuild of the Red Deer Arena and the changing ice capacity in the region.

Inking the Dawe arena project into the budget would have come with a $21.4 million price tag.

Wong said if the arena isn’t on the books before 2026 then the city should simply decommission the nearly 50-year-old building.

The debate skimmed the surface of a north versus south Red Deer division with councillors commending Wong for his strong advocacy for the north.

“Our public has indicated to us they expect us to govern in the interests of the whole community,” said Veer. “We need to be very clear in that we are one community and we serve the whole community.”

Wong said he did not argue it as a “north versus south” issue rather the north is “under serviced.”

“It’s not where I live,” said Wong. “There is a need for the amount of people who live there.”

Coun. Buck Buchanan voted with Wong saying the $75,000 study will tell the city what they already know — there is an ice shortage.

The G.H. Dawe Community Centre was revitalized to the tune of $30 million in 2008.

crhyno@bprda.wpengine.com