City charts success through planning

The City of Red Deer continues to surge forward on how residents can move more efficiently without a vehicle.

The City of Red Deer continues to surge forward on how residents can move more efficiently without a vehicle.

On Monday, Development Services director Paul Goranson updated council on the Movement Charter — one of six major workplans that the city has launched over the past year. The Movement Charter arose from the Integrated Movement Study, which looked at what residents think about bicycling, taking transit, walking and driving in the city today and for the future.

Goranson highlighted how this Movement Charter has involved bringing in experts and surveying the public about street designs, bicycling as well as pedestrian walkability.

The Ross Street patio experiment, where patio tables have been set up in the place of 17 parking stalls, has garnered widespread positive response.

“I’ve been here at the city more than 20 years and I’ve never seen anything that has garnered as many unsolicited comments of support,” said Goranson.

Goranson said this fall a draft “mobility playbook” will come forward, with the help of consultants.

“They are suggesting that instead of planning and designing from a 30,000-foot-level, you need to get down, get on the street and look at how we do things,” said Goranson.

Consultants compiled a graph on the walking and cycling times from the point a person is just beyond Red Deer city limits.

“It’s only 20 minutes to our downtown on bike, at the most,” said Goranson.

Updates were also given on five other charters — Safety, Dialogue, Identity, Movement, Design and Economy. Each one has a goal (theme) with specific outcomes and key strategies. Presentations were made on Monday as part of the city’s first-ever public mid-year budget review.

City manager Craig Curtis said on Thursday that the city is progressing well on “putting flesh to the bone” on these charters, and in particular the Movement Charter.

“With the Movement Charter, we’re probably more than 50 per cent of the way,” said Curtis. “In some of them, we’re only 20 per cent of the way. We’re intending at least to have a good direction in each of the charters before the (fall election) next year.”

The city is also progressing on the Design Charter. One outcome suggests increasing the number of stores and services located in individual neighbourhoods so people have a chance to connect.

“We’re totally looking at our neighbourhood standards and seeing the mix of housing types and that sort of thing,” said Curtis.

The Identity Charter would like to ensure Albertans clearly identify Red Deer’s identity, and ensure tourism increases.

“It speaks to how we would market ourselves,” Curtis said.

The Dialogue Charter includes looking at how best the city can engage the public through social media.

“We’re in the process of updating our web page,” said Curtis.

The Safety Charter includes ways to better crime prevention in the city.

One key strategy is to create a made-in-Red Deer drug strategy that would identify gaps in services.

“One of the issues we have is with gang-related crime whereas other levels of crime have been going down significantly,” said Curtis.

The city successfully negotiated with the province to see ALERT (Alberta Law Enforcement Response Team) set up a unit here. That’s a direct response to a goal within the Safety Charter, Curtis said.

Curtis said the Economy Charter is about to get going. A bid will go out to have a firm prepare an economic development strategy.

“We’ve tended to put our eggs into the regional basket and we don’t want to abandon the regional focus,” said Curtis. “We do need a made-in-Red Deer focus on the land we have, our web presence on economic development is very limited … we’re going to enhance our profile.”