Councillors’ thoughts and highlights from first year

Buck Buchanan, third-term councillor “It’s going to be stellar for the community,” said Buchanan on Red Deer securing the Canada Winter Games. Along with Coun. Dianne Wyntyes, Buchanan sat on the bid committee.

Buck Buchanan, third-term councillor

“It’s going to be stellar for the community,” said Buchanan on Red Deer securing the Canada Winter Games. Along with Coun. Dianne Wyntyes, Buchanan sat on the bid committee.

But Buchanan anticipates there will be big issues to come as a result of winning the games. He said council will have to be prepared to go out on a limb for amenities after hearing the community amenities report later this year.

Residents were asked what amenities they wanted in Red Deer and in what order. Council will hear a report later this year and consider the information during the 2015 budget deliberations.

Tanya Handley, first-term councillor

“I thought we could do more for cost savings,” said Handley, who voted against last year’s budgets.

“The items that were brought forward were quite small. We as a council ask the city to bring forward cost savings and the city brought them forward. Then council on a lot of them said, ‘No, no, no.’ This time around, I hope we’re a little more brave and be willing to look at ways to find cost savings.”

Handley said putting together a list of budget guidelines for administration is a positive.

She said voting against the budget was simply a statement that “I think we could have done better.”

Paul Harris, second-term councillor

“I am really pleased that we had a conversation about community amenities,” said Harris. “I don’t think we have had an opportunity to prioritize things in a holistic way.”

Harris counts having all the dead trees on the boulevards and public spaces replaced within two years as a win for the community.

He looks forward to more audit committee work, developing a downtown residential strategy and working on Riverlands, the former city civic yards site. The area is intended to be developed into a thriving mixed-use district supporting culture, entertainment, residential development and community gathering places.

Ken Johnston, first-term councillor

“It was a great year of dialogue,” said Johnston. “The community really spoke a lot and loudly about what was important. I think we did a very good job of listening and gathering. I think in 2015 you will see some roll out of that community dialogue.”

Johnston said the 2015 to 2018 strategic plan for the city will develop further in the years to come.

Lawrence Lee, first-term councillor

Lee said some of the highlights for him included securing the Canada Winter Games and furthering community dialogue.

Lee said he was disappointed council supported urban chickens, which he opposed.

Lee also advocated for not using extra money for green energy, which is mixed with traditional energy sources on the grid. Council did opt to buy some green energy at higher prices.

Lynne Mulder, fourth-term councillor

Mulder and Harris put a motion forward asking that an aquatic centre be etched in the city’s 10-year capital plan. Mulder said it was disappointing that they received little council support. Council will likely discuss a proposed aquatic centre as part of the community amenity project later this year.

“We came around to a good place where we put together an ad hoc committee and it is not a loss at the moment because it has been pushed so many times,” she said.

Mulder is also pleased about the new neighbourhood guidelines that will introduce various housing types in new neighbourhoods such as Evergreen in northeast Red Deer.

Coun. Frank Wong, fourth-term councillor

“Bike lanes came into play during the election so I am happy that we corrected some of the mistakes that were made,” said Wong, on the removal of the bike lanes on 39th Street.

Wong said highlights over the first year included approving the pilot program for small buses, advocating for retaining local ambulance dispatch and looking at development north of Hwy 11A.

Dianne Wyntjes, second-term councillor

“Making sure we have housing stock for those who need it whether it is the homeless or new people coming in,” said Wyntjes, on the challenges ahead.

She said it will be important to work with the province on the housing portfolio.

Wyntjes said addressing senior needs in the community will also come up again. She said the fate of the old Red Deer Nursing Home and Valley Park Manor sites have yet to be determined, and this may have an impact on development in the city.

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