Editorial: Collaboration can change Central Alberta

Collaboration between the City of Red Deer and the County is at an all-time high. Point in case, Mayor Woods and Mayor Johnston’s recent trip to the International Airshow Paris in support of the Red Deer Regional Airport. While it may seem like a big and expensive trip, you can’t catch fish if you don’t go fishing. If this trip results in attracting a new airline to the Red Deer Regional Airport, it could have a huge impact on our region.

Now is the perfect time to initiate collaborative projects that benefit the entire region, such as the construction of a new highway from Red Deer to Kamloops. Just imagine having a faster and safer highway, which bypasses the mountain parks, allowing for quicker travel from BC to Alberta. The government is discussing the possibility of creating new economic corridors, and it is time for our mayor to push this topic further. A meeting with the mayor of Kamloops to explore the potential of a new super highway to change travel and trade across western Canada. The same way the Coquihalla Highway changed travel to the lower mainland, a route from Kamloops to Red Deer would be a game changer. Imagine no more semis driving that steep pass in Golden and no more semis clogging Highway 1 in Banff. This would position Red Deer as the central hub for trade and traffic between BC and Alberta, make our highways safer and further protect the National Parks.

In the spirit of collaboration, it is important to consider the creation of a regional police force for Red Deer, not limited to just the city. Including the County, Penhold, Blackfalds, and Sylvan Lake in this discussion makes the most sense. The RCMP has received a recommendation to stop providing contract policing services across Canada and transition into a role similar to the FBI. Therefore, there is a possibility that we may be required to establish our own police force in the future. Additionally, recent incidents, such as the $6 million bill to the City for RCMP backpay, have occurred without the involvement or approval of local authorities. As policing represents the biggest line item in the City’s budget it would be prudent to explore any alternatives, especially in light of council’s desire to try to keep tax increases from becoming the norm.

Crime remains a top concern for our city, and it is worth noting that Grand Prairie is currently transitioning from the RCMP and to their own police force. The provincial government has funded the study exploring this idea and is currently covering half the transition costs. If there is a case for Grande Prairie surely there would be similarities to Central Alberta, Not reaching to the province to conduct a study for a regional police for is clearly leaving money on the table.

The RCMP has recently revealed that they are struggling with recruitment and have a significant vacancy rate of 17 per cent for officers across Canada. In Alberta, the RCMP is understaffed 13 per cent despite paying for the full complement of officers. A Red Deer Regional Police Force wouldn’t have nearly the same challenge as all of the officers would know they get to live in our beautiful community rather than face the possibility of getting sent to Flin Flon, Manitoba. This understaffing no doubt puts pressure on our dedicated officers in Red Deer who are doing their absolute best. However, it is the municipalities responsibility to explore the possibility of improving and organizing our police force more effectively through collaboration with our local partners.

By prioritizing collaboration, we can drive positive change and achieve more effective outcomes for our community. It is crucial that we consider these opportunities and work together to see Red Deer and our entire region flourish.

Chad Krahn is a former candidate for Red Deer City Council.

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