Let’s Talk: Mayor updates City’s local advocacy efforts

With the provincial election behind us, many people in our community are asking the City about the status of various provincial projects in Red Deer. Since they are provincial and the City does not have a formal say regarding their status, Council can only speculate with the information that we have at this time.

As a strong portion of our municipal agenda is advocating to the Provincial Government, I therefore offer the following update on our local advocacy efforts, with the caveat that the following will be determined solely by the Provincial Government.

Projects near completion

The QE11 interchange is nearly complete, with aspects such as roadway wayfinding signage and landscaping to be completed this spring/summer. It is expected that this will proceed without delay.

Projects Underway:

Red Deer University’s transition to full university status is well enough underway that it will, in all-strong likelihood, be proceeding as planned.

While the shovel isn’t yet in the ground for the Red Deer Justice Centre, the site has been acquired by the Provincial Government, the demolition of the former RCMP building is underway, and the Jordan ruling compels the need for more courthouses in Red Deer to ensure cases are tried in a timely manner to ensure local justice objectives are upheld. Given the above, I think it’s fair to say this project will continue toward completion.

The demolition of the former Red Deer Nursing Home is also underway, and considering that the funding for the future build of affordable seniors’ housing on this site was first announced under Premier Prentice’s Government four years ago (and that it has taken the time since then for the regulatory and other approvals to be finalized), this project is hopefully far enough along that it will proceed without further delay.

Projects not yet approved, but in discussion

Arguably, one of the greatest provincial concerns in Central Alberta is the critical infrastructure needs of the Red Deer Regional Hospital. This is pure speculation on my part, but I suspect the needs assessment will strongly indicate the RDRH should be a provincial health priority project. This document has yet to be publicly released, so our first order of business in continuing to make the case for the Central Zone in the lead up to the provincial budget is to request this document.

Projects with an undetermined future:

Prior to the election writ drop, the former Government announced funding for 24/7 emergency shelter for Red Deer. Our community has advocated for this for the past 5 years to resolve this substantial social infrastructure deficit which is manifesting itself in various ways in our community. We hope the new Government will continue to support this initiative, and will be requesting meetings with the future Minister of Community and Social Services to ensure this longstanding need is fulfilled.

There are, of course, other areas of substantial community concern that Council will continue to advocate for with our community, but I will mention two specifically:

Red Deer, like most communities across Alberta and Canada, continues to be plagued by the addictions crisis, particularly with respect to opioids. The former Health Minister indicated the Government would not be approving a treatment centre for Red Deer, but we will continue to advocate for the complete implementation of our Community Drug and Alcohol Strategy, and specifically be requesting residential treatment and provincial protocols to prevent unsafe needle proliferation in our community.

Securing new market access for Alberta’s energy product has been identified as a priority by the new Government, and our Council is highly supportive of efforts to secure new pipeline infrastructure, recognizing it is imperative for local job creation and security, and to return to our economy to a growth position.

I hope this helps to answer some of your questions until next month. As always, Council thanks you for the ongoing opportunity to represent you.

Mayor Tara Veer

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