Council ponies up millions for Winter Games

Bring on the 2019 Canada Winter Games.

Bring on the 2019 Canada Winter Games.

City council voted 8-1 in favour to spend $26 million for capital projects and $34.7 million on the operating side over several years as part of several resolutions related to hosting the Games on Monday.

Council also agreed to spend $11.4 million for an Olympic-sized ice surface and temporary squash courts at the G.H. Dawe Community Centre if Red Deer College does not build its planned Health and Wellness Centre.

Councillors argued hosting the Games is an opportunity that Red Deer cannot afford to pass up on many levels.

Coun. Lawrence Lee said the primary reason he supports the bid is for the youth in the community.

“This is an initiative that brings us all together for all the right reasons,” said Lee. “The community comes together to not only contribute to sport and athlete development but also into the leadership of the community. That is for me the biggest win of all.”

Coun. Tanya Handley voted against the motion citing she felt torn and uncomfortable spending the $11.4 million on top of the $26 million.

Mayor Tara Veer said an Alberta community will be awarded significant dollars from the provincial and federal governments for the facility upgrades and new builds and operating costs.

The two higher levels of government are expected to chip in a minimum of $11 million each.

“If those dollars are going to be allocated, I want them to be allocated to Red Deer,” said Veer.

Lyn Radford, Red Deer 2019 Canada Winter Games Bid Committee chairperson, told council that Red Deer would benefit on the sport, cultural, and economic fronts.

She said the Games would leave legacies in the community for generations to come. Radford said recent Games have earned communities between $90 and $165.5 million in economic impact.

Radford said they will meet the financial needs of the Games through government grants and programs, corporate support, event ticketing and local fundraising events.

But Radford also talked about how Red Deer is ready to inspire and “to exhibit its passion for community, culture and citizenship to all Canadians.”

She told council the Games will inspire the next generation of sport leaders, enhance facilities, showcase the city’s cultural and community spirit and elevate the city on a national stage.

Speaking after the meeting, Radford said the committee put together a bid that is worthy of the Games. She said council reaffirmed that they are on the right path.

“I am pretty positive by next year at this time when we have the Games that council will be very happy we have the Games and (Coun. Handley) will be seeing the impact that this will have on this community,” said Radford.

The Red Deer 2019 Canada Winter Games Bid Committee will submit its bid at the end of the month. The Canada Games Bid Evaluation Committee will tour the city on Aug. 22.

Details are still be sorted out for the community’s much-needed participation on that day, said Radford.

The successful host community – either Red Deer or Lethbridge – will be announced.

In other council news:

— The Golden Arches of McDonald’s Restaurant are coming to Clearview Market.

City council approved the discretionary use of a McDonald’s Restaurant on 16 Conway Street, within a commercial district adjacent to Carleton Drive. The 94-seat one-storey fast food restaurant will come with dual drive-thru lanes.

The applicant will add more parking south of the building in lieu of a second building that is indicated on the area concept plan. There will also be enhanced landscaping and raised crosswalks.

Council approved the application by a vote of 7-2.

Citing concerns of diverting from a concept plan, environmental impacts and safety, Councillors Paul Harris and Buck Buchanan voted against the development. Harris said he could not support the application on many levels including changing a concept plan without more refinements and environmental reasons. Harris said council needs to consider eliminating new drive-thrus in the community.

“The assumption here is because people bank in their cars, they should also eat in their cars,” said Harris. “I don’t think that’s the right thing especially when we’re talking about fast food. I think it would be appropriate to get out and go in to get the food.”

Others such as Coun. Dianne Wyntjes argued that it was a business opportunity for the community but agreed it’s time to look at planning through an environmental lens of the Environmental Master Plan better and earlier.

“I don’t think at this stage of the game that it would be fair in that development to all of a sudden raise the flags,” she said.

Coun. Ken Johnston said this was a free market decision and the market dictates the drive-thru will be used.

Buchanan raised concerns over safety and traffic jams at the intersection where the McDonalds will be built, which is close to the Tim Hortons in the area.

“It’s silly,” he said. “Here we are talking about the Environmental Master Plan and we want to do a dual lane drive-thru.”

Coun. Tanya Handley added that the drive-thru will not spill out on a main road, which is seen in other areas of the city. She said the increased parking may alleviate the lineups.

Typically development permits would go to the Municipal Planning Commission for approval. In the case of direct control districts, council is the development authority.

— Coun. Paul Harris was given the nod to represent Red Deerians on a national level for another term. Harris was re-elected to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities board of directors during the annual conference in Niagara Falls, Ont. last week. Harris said the big focus this year will be getting ready for the federal election to ensure the municipality’s voice is not lost. He said FCM wants to ensure municipalities across the country speak up so their message is included in every party’s platform.

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