The Advocate article on April 21 on page 3 “Council to discuss big financial commitment” has come out with the some recent decisions made on the Westerner.
With this being an election year, I would like to ask Red Deer city council some questions:
Does the Master Plan address what happens once the Westerner uses up the 22 million dollars and requires more funding?
Could you provide more details on the structure of the debt instrument that is being used to fund this loan? And who is borrowing the funds? The city or the Westerner or both?
What is the status of city and Red Deer County relations in regards to the Westerner? And how does the city plan to negotiate a sustainable solution with them?
Has the county been reminded of the benefits the Westerner provides?
The article mentions that the funds to bail out the Westerner are not from tax payers and from operating reserves. How were the operating reserves originally generated then?
Who or what department is going to be involved in the oversight of the Westerner going forward?
Lastly, how is the city dealing with our homelessness issue? We are closing the temporary shelter in the downtown. Is this part of the plan to re-build/clean up our downtown?
I would also like to point out that the article included outdated statistics from the city such as Westerner Park drives $150 million in economic activity. Is this not from a study that was done at the same period when crude oil was around $100 a barrel? I find this number to be a little misleading.
Also, what never seems to be mentioned is the amount of money that also leaves the city. The artists, athletes and businesses that would come to our venue, generate wealth from these events and would also take that wealth with them when they leave.
The pandemic is a current problem for the Westerner’s business model no doubt, but it should never provide cover for the gross mismanagement that got us all into this mess in the first place. The 3-million-dollar grant would have been better spent on our current homelessness and mental health/addiction problems in our city, in my opinion.
Gabriel Beck, Red Deer