It’s been a busy two years for Red Deer city council.
As 2015 draws to a close, the nine elected officials will be more than halfway through their four-year term.
Mayor Tara Veer said council has accomplished much since being sworn in in 2013, but there’s still a lot of work ahead before a new council is elected in 2017.
She said this council has placed a high priority on advocacy to the provincial and the federal governments.
Promoting Red Deer as Alberta’s third largest city is something that council has grasped hold of to make the city’s best case before the province.
Veer said the city wants to build on the momentum and take its rightful position as the third largest Albertan city.
She said the province is taking notice. Examples include its decision to retain ambulance dispatch in Red Deer, fund Red Deer Airport expansion and revisit the decision to close the Michener Centre.
“It’s very rare for a government to revisit a decision,” said Veer. “When you look at the magnitude of (Michener and ambulance dispatch) decisions. For the (province) to reconsider is quite remarkable. That suggested change in Red Deer’s positioning in the eyes of the provincial government.”
Veer said the focus has not just been about the City of Red Deer but about the region it serves.
“The province has been highly responsive in the message when you build Red Deer, you’re building Alberta as well.”
Reflecting on the last two years, Veer said the new four-year term for councils has allowed officials to see projects and initiatives, such as its strategic direction work plans, through to the end. She stands by council’s record on a number of community initiatives including helping to secure the 2019 Canada Winter Games, adopting a capital savings plan for future needs and approving a Major Area Structure Plan for the area north of Hwy 11A.
In the next two years, council will continue to advocate for issues that were close to resolution when the previous government fell. Veer said the new government has been responsive to Red Deer’s needs.
But they are waiting for an answer on the old courthouse, the Michener lands, and support for a new affordable housing vision for the city.
“This is one of the most critical areas of advocacy for the community,” said Veer. “But it is also a great area of social risk to the community. The longer there’s a delay in provincial decision the greater risk in the public housing stock.”
She said the city has worked with at least six or seven Ministers of Municipal Affairs in the last two years.
“Red Deer needs a single point of entry for people needing affordable housing and wrap around services,” said Veer.
In the coming year council will look into the adoption of some service level standards related Priorty 3 service levels and review the snow and ice policy to determine if any adjustment are needed following this winter. It will support Red Deer College in its efforts to become a polytechnic college.
Council will also look to refine the vision of Riverlands and consider storm water as its own utility.