A city councillor’s comments about Red Deer being primarily a blue collar, oil-and-gas town didn’t wash well during Friday’s municipal operating budget debate.
Chris Stephan was questioning the merits of spending for the 2013 Lieutenant Governor of Alberta Distinguished Art Awards. Red Deer did get the bid for this gala.
He said the event will largely go unnoticed by the community.
“Most taxpayers are going to care less,” said Stephan.
Counc. Paul Harris said people do care about the arts in Red Deer and in fact, the city was the first Cultural Capital of Canada. Plus, the city has a wide variety of arts in the community, including various bands and theatre groups.
Coun. Cindy Jefferies said she wondered if she was living in the same town as Stephan.
Coun. Lynne Mulder agreed, saying she had worked at Red Deer College where people wouldn’t be described as such.
“I think Councillor Jefferies hit it on the head — we’re looking at the whole community,” said Mulder. “And I agree, I am not living in Councillor Stephan’s community.”
The celebrations will take place over one week. The gala will include public art tours showcasing over 38 pieces in Red Deer’s vibrant collection.
Recreation, Parks and Culture recommended nearly $127,000 in one-time funding. Part of this expense included hiring a part-time co-ordinator for just over $75,000.
City manager Craig Curtis suggested the budget was extremely large for a relatively small but distinguished event.
He recommended support for one-time funding of $7,500 in 2012 and $44,253 in 2013, excluding personnel costs.
He had suggested that staffing be provided through secondment or the co-ordination of functions with other departments.
Coun. Dianne Wyntjes said it’s going to be a major event in the city and she expected it will be a challenge for a staffer to take this on.
Curtis’ recommendation was approved.