On Jan. 1 1948, the village of North Red Deer became a part of the City of Red Deer.
Is it time for North Red Deer to secede from the City of Red Deer? Have time and events made North Red Deer and Red Deer divided, separate and unequal partners?
Prior to amalgamation, wars, fires and loss of commerce ravaged the tax base of North Red Deer. Today, that is no longer the case — the growth of industrial parks would supply more than enough of a commercial tax base to eliminate that concern.
The trend of encouraging commerce and industry to move to North Red Deer, and encouraging culture, recreation and entertainment to stay on the south side of the river is a double-edged sword. While building industry, they also demolished schools less than 20 years after merging and were sending the children to a school on 39th Street south of the river.
In 67 years since amalgamation, they have never built a high school in North Red Deer. They talked about it, but when the time came to build one, they built in the south. There are no plans now for a high school in North Red Deer. The population is expected to hit over 50,000 in North Red Deer with the upcoming development of lands north of 11A. North Red Deer would be the ninth or 10th largest city in Alberta, equal to Grande Prairie. A city with a population of 50,000 people without a high school, and only one swimming pool, does that make sense?
There will thousands of acres available for commerce and industry, possibly a thousand acres to build homes for the workers but no high school. Red Deer south has, is building or plans for six high schools.
Thousands of acres of land and there are no recommended plans to build a new pool. North Red Deer will have just one pool while Red Deer South will have three pools with talks of expanding one. There is talk of a concert hall in Red Deer South. Nearly $200 million will be spent on the Riverlands, in South Red Deer, moving and building the public yards, upgrading the infrastructure, burying wires, etc. There are also plans for a new arena south of the river, but no high school or pool for North Red Deer.
Our taxes will pay for these projects, and a major portion will come from taxes collected in North Red Deer.
Should North Red Deer secede from this amalgamation? Maybe, but I do not think it has been done in Alberta before. It would be a precedent-setting action, starting with a referendum.
Another option to consider is a North Red Deer municipal association, something like the Downtown Business Association that appears to be quite influential at City Hall. It could monitor and influence the growth of North Red Deer, ensuring equality for all. Establish a board with chairs, secretaries, directors including representatives of business, schools and a city councillor.
Those are just two of many options, if the will is there.
Is it time to consider rewriting the rules, change plans, and make it a partnership of equals?
Or perhaps it would be best to just put up a sign saying: Welcome to North Red Deer Industrial Parks. Work here then go home.
I think it would be better to renegotiate the term of amalgamation, get a high school, a new pool and a new sense of equal partnership. North Red Deer deserves that much.