Red Deer deemed business-friendly

The Alberta director of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business is praising Red Deer as a business-friendly community. Richard Truscott met with Mayor Tara Veer on Wednesday afternoon, during which time they discussed issues like business property taxes, municipal spending, red tape and labour shortages. “As a relative measure, Red Deer does pretty darn good,” Truscott said later about the city’s performance.

The Alberta director of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business is praising Red Deer as a business-friendly community.

Richard Truscott met with Mayor Tara Veer on Wednesday afternoon, during which time they discussed issues like business property taxes, municipal spending, red tape and labour shortages.

“As a relative measure, Red Deer does pretty darn good,” Truscott said later about the city’s performance.

He cited the results of the CFIB’s annual Communities in Boom report, which has ranked Red Deer as one of the top entrepreneurial cities in Canada. The 2014 report is due out this month.

“Red Deer is in the top 10 again of 100 cities across the country.”

Truscott also spoke favourably about Veer, describing his meeting with her as one of the best he’s had with a politician during his five years with the CFIB.

“I was really impressed with her.

“It certainly seems like the mayor’s heart and her head are in the right place.”

That’s not to say Red Deer businesses are not without challenges. Truscott said labour shortages are the “Achilles heal” of the local economy.

“I think this is probably hitting home here more than in a lot of places in Alberta.”

Tightened restrictions on the temporary foreign workers program that were implemented by the federal government this spring has exacerbated the problem, he said.

“There’s a real need to roll back some of the punitive measures that the government brought in.”

Longer term, added Truscott, it’s important to change Canada’s immigration system to attract people other than the scientists and highly skilled tradespeople who are favoured now.

“We need people across all skill levels in our economy.”

A system that’s sensitive to regional labour needs would also help, he said.

Truscott also praised Red Deer for its sponsorship of a resolution at the recent Alberta Urban Municipalities Association convention that called upon the province to seek improvements to the temporary foreign workers program.

The CFIB is concerned about rising municipal operating costs, including in Red Deer, said Truscott. He pointed out that the city’s operating costs rose 116 per cent from 2000 to 2012, during which time its population increased by just 40 per cent.

Veer later responded to this disparity by pointing out that Red Deer has had to boost expenditures for things like snow and ice control, and utilities.

“Because we are a small city becoming a large city, we really are at that watershed moment of having to make very key and required, but extremely expensive, infrastructure investments,” she said.

Veer added that the numbers have been skewed by such developments as Red Deer becoming a contracted ambulance service provider for Alberta Health Services, with the associated staff increases.

“While I agree that the operating costs have outstripped our population growth, there are some instances where we really were responding to a government mandate beyond our decision-making authority.”

Truscott said the CFIB has about 400 members in Red Deer. A recent survey of many of these found that 47 per cent didn’t think the local government was doing a good job of controlling municipal wage levels and 31 per cent were unhappy with their property tax levels.

Conversely, 73 per cent thought municipal bylaws and regulations were adequate or good.

hrichards@bprda.wpengine.com

Just Posted

Tsunami warning for B.C.’s coast is cancelled after Alaska quake

VANCOUVER — A tsunami warning issued for coastal British Columbia was cancelled… Continue reading

Sewage spill shuts beaches along California’s Central Coast

MONTEREY, Calif. — Nearly 5 million gallons of sewage spilled into the… Continue reading

‘Shape of Water’ producer, Christopher Plummer among Canadian Oscar nominees

TORONTO — A Toronto producer who worked on “The Shape of Water”… Continue reading

US, others launch new tool to punish chemical weapons users

PARIS — The United States and 28 other countries are launching a… Continue reading

Fewer than half of Canadians hold optimistic, open view of the world: poll

OTTAWA — Canada’s reputation as a nation with an open and optimistic… Continue reading

WATCH news on the go: Replay Red Deer Jan. 21

Watch news highlights from Red Deer and Central Alberta

RDC chosen to host 2019 men’s volleyball national championship

Sports enthusiasts in Red Deer will have more to look forward to… Continue reading

Police is still looking for Second World War army passport owner

No one has claimed a rare Second World War German army passport… Continue reading

DJ Sabatoge and TR3 Band kick off Sylvan Lake’s Winterfest 2018

Central Alberta’s youngest DJ will open for TR3 Band kicking off Town… Continue reading

Two Canadians, two Americans abducted in Nigeria are freed

Kidnapping for ransom is common in Nigeria, especially on the Kaduna to Abuja highway

WATCH news on the go: Replay Red Deer Jan. 21

Watch news highlights from Red Deer and Central Alberta

Liberals quietly tap experts to write new paternity leave rules

Ideas include creating an entirely new leave benefit similar to one that exists in Quebec

Insurers say Canadian weather getting hotter, wetter and weirder

Average number of days with heavy rain or snow across Canada has been outside norm since spring 2013

Are you ready for some wrestling? WWE’s ‘Raw’ marks 25 years

WWE flagship show is set to mark its 25th anniversary on Monday

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month