A pilot to run the Ross Street Patio in the winter failed to get enough support from city council during Monday’s operating budget debate.
The $50,000 pilot for the 2017-18 winter would have tested the viability of a permanent patio on Ross Street and demonstrate its potential as part of winter celebrations for Canada 150 and 2019 Canada Winter Games.
Since 2012, the summer patio has become a location where people gather to meet or relax, as well as for regular outdoor concerts.
Council was split 4-4 so the proposal failed. Councillors Lynne Mulder, Paul Harris, Dianne Wyntjes and Buck Buchanan voted in favour, while Lawrence Lee, Frank Wong, Tanya Handley and Mayor Tara Veer voted against. Councillor Ken Johnston was absent.
Handley was concerned about the 17 parking spaces the patio would eliminate during the winter and costs.
“There’s propane bottles being stolen from RV lots, for heaven’s sake, without security. So we’re potentially looking at security dollars to secure heaters and all the extra infrastructure. I understand that pilots work all of that out, but right now I say give parking back to people in winter,” Handley said on Monday.
Buchanan said the downtown thrives when the patio is open in the summer and Red Deer has winters that would allow the patio to be put to more use. The pilot would also eliminate the $35,000 cost of removing the patio at the end of summer.
Veer said due to the fact that there has been mixed public opinion on a winter patio, Canada Winter Games has not requested the patio, and the tough economic times, council defeated the pilot.
The $50,000 would have come from savings so defeating the project did not change the proposed property tax increase for residents.
But the property tax increase did shrink to 2.15 per cent from 2.20 after a $65,632 motion to add a full-time employee to transit fleet maintenance failed in a 5-3 vote.
In other discussions, a resolution was passed to give Central Alberta Economic Partnership one-year notice that the city was opting out of the partnership. Instead, the city would work with CAEP on a project by project basis.
“We for many years have been a part of the Central Alberta Economic Partnership but we have in a recent strategic direction identified that we needed to shift some of our focus to the City of Red Deer, not just to regional development,” Veer said.
Council also approved $100,000 to implement the new Community Safety Strategy that focuses on education, prevention, intervention and enforcement.
Operating budget debate continues until Friday.