Infrastructure, homelessness and green living were some of the items Red Deerians want council to focus on in next year’s budget.
Residents gave their input for what should be included in the city’s 2019 capital and operating budgets at an open house Wednesday at Festival Hall.
Lorna Johnson, who works at the Red Deer Museum and Art Gallery, said the city needs to invest more in infrastructure.
“Red Deer has always had the same issues. But I get that the city has grown so quickly that there’s lots of challenges with infrastructure.
“For the third largest city in Alberta, we’re really far behind. We don’t have a professional theatre, our Museum and Art Gallery was built in 1978 and it’s long-overdue for a major expansion,” said Johnson.
At the open house there was a board where Red Deerians could write what council’s biggest priorities should be moving forward.
Johnson said many valid concerns were listed on the board.
“The drug crisis has really caught people’s attention – that’s certainly an important issue. Homelessness has been an issue for a long time too and continues to be an issue,” she said.
Having this open house every year is a great thing for the city, Johnson added.
“It’s really great council makes themselves open to talk to people about the budget,” she said.
Red Deer’s Stephen Merredew said he would like to see the city invest more money into parks, culture and recreation amenities.
“Those are selling features that will grow our community in the long term. If you cheap out on those, then we’re doing a disservice to future generations who end up here,” said Merredew.
Merredew said he would like the city to “lead the pack” in things such as alternative transportation and green living.
“Incorporating that into planning of new neighbourhoods is an exciting possibility,” said Merredew.
Craig Curtis, Red Deer city manager, said it’s important to get the community’s input on the 2019 budget.
“Every year we take stock … on what we should be doing or how we should prioritize our capital plan. Every year it makes a difference,” said Curtis.
At last year’s open house, members from the pickleball club approached councillors about building a new facility for the sport. A 20-court pickleball facility is now planned in the city.
“There’s always an opportunity to influence your council one-on-one at this kind of meeting,” Curtis said.
An online survey for the 2019 budget will be available at www.reddeer.ca/budget starting Monday.