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Letter: Disappointed with council’s postponement decision on Westerner

I am extremely disappointed in council’s decision to table the motion dealing with Westerner Park.

The Westerner Park problem is not going to resolve itself and as a major economic driver in our city it needs the immediate and full attention of Red Deer city council.

I believe the city manager presented this council with a sound option to maintain and protect this valuable city asset. The three-million-dollar grant to backstop current operations until the end of 2021 makes sense as does the city holding the nineteen-million-dollar mortgage on the facility versus a bank headquartered in the east. If some members of council have a problem with the $3 million as a grant rather than a loan a simple amendment could have addressed that item.

The tabling of the required motion gives the appearance of this council dodging the need to deal with this extremely important issue. With exception of councillors Dianne Wyntjes and Michael Dawe the rest of council agreed to table the opportunity to deal with this important issue leaving stakeholders and citizens to wonder about the future of Westerner Park.

My understanding is that the window of opportunity to get a piece of a current round of grant money is quickly closing and it sounds like the next opportunity is not until December. Are you as our elected representatives hoping to leave this decision for the next council to handle after elections this fall?

I believe most Red Deerians and the Westerner management and staff would love to know the park’s future and move forward. This should not be a city council problem, but it has become one and we need you as city councillors to deal with this now.

I believe it will also be incumbent on council to have a stronger representation on the Westerner board to protect the taxpayers investment.

Phil Hyde, Red Deer

Editor’s note: This letter was also addressed to the City of Red Deer and Mayor Tara Veer. In a reply, to Hyde and the Advocate, Veer stated the tabling of the motion was to request additional information and not to defer decision-making beyond the next few weeks. “Given the significance of the request before us, council’s purpose was financial due diligence on behalf of our citizens prior to making the decision. Council is acutely aware of the importance of Westerner Park to our city and region,” said Veer.

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