Red Deer ward plebiscite rejected

Red Deer city council voted against holding a plebiscite on a ward system during this fall’s civic election.

Red Deer city council voted against holding a plebiscite on a ward system during this fall’s civic election.

By a vote of 5-3, council rejected on Monday a motion brought forward by Councillors Frank Wong, Buck Buchanan and Chris Stephan to put a question about a ward voting system on the Oct. 21st municipal election ballot. Councillors said the timing is not right and there are bigger issues that need attention.

“Bigger picture issues have been put on the back burner because our community has been divided over issues like bike lanes and chickens,” said Coun. Tara Veer. “I think there is some community sentiment for a ward system or go to a plebiscite for a ward system.”

Veer said the city has received some letters in support and against ward systems but there has not been an compelling response in either direction. She would rather the city steady its focus to crime prevention, safety and financial sustainability.

Stephan, however, said there is an appetite in the community and the issue will come back in another six months becoming an election issue.

Stephan said residents should have a right to decide how they want to be governed which is an essential part of democracy.

Stephan unsuccessfully tried to put a ward question on this spring’s Ipso Reid Survey after the motion was defeated. Stephan said by not consulting the public, council is not keeping in the spirit of the dialogue charter.

“The struggle I see is people’s personal feelings have entered into the decision-making of why you support it and why you don’t,” said Stephan.

“I think we need to remove that.”

Coun. Dianne Wyntjes questioned what has changed since council affirmed keeping the existing at-large system in April 2012.

“If we ever go to plebiscite, that should be an issue that our citizens and voters decide,” said Wyntjes. “Is this the time? Yes in four or five years we may be there. If we go to a plebiscite, I will show citizens my card . . . I prefer representation at large.”

Buchanan said he has heard from the citizens that they are under represented and are not satisfied with the representation.

“People have said the question is how do we get better dialogue or better communication ?” said Buchanan.

“I know what I think but I would like to hear from other people.”

Coun. Paul Harris said other councillors may have heard this is a pressing issue in the community but he has heard more about the quality of life issue including crime, safety, park improvements, business climate, pot holes, transit.

“We need to work together and stand together to build this community,” said Harris. “I feel that a ward system and going to a plebiscite would create a dialogue in the community about things that aren’t important to us as a whole.”

Coun. Lynne Mulder said this is too big of an issue to be decided by checking ‘yes or no’ on a ballot. Mulder said she would like to hear more from the public about what they would like but she doesn’t think a plebiscite is the way to go.

“I believe we gave it careful thought last April,” said Mulder. “I don’t think anyone said we would never again look at whether a ward system would work. But we did say maybe it wasn’t the right time. I’m not convinced a plebiscite is the way to go. I certainly believe in public input.”

Coun. Cindy Jefferies was absent.

crhyno@bprda.wpengine.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Satnam Singh Sandhu, 42, was sentenced to six years in prison for manslaughter on Friday in Red Deer Court of Queens Bench. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Sylvan Lake man sentenced to six years for choking his wife

Satnam Singh Sandhu pleaded guilty to manslaughter

Some workers are terrified at the prospect of returning to work at Olymel, where hundreds were infected with COVID, says a worker.
Advocate file photo
Second death linked to Olymel COVID-19 outbreak, Alberta Health confirms

A second death has been linked to the Olymel COVID-19 outbreak, Alberta… Continue reading

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau rises during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
New vaccine brings optimism amid rising threat of variants, high case counts

Canada’s vaccine rollout received a boost Friday with the approval of a… Continue reading

An arrest by Red Deer RCMP is facing online scrutiny. No charges have been laid and the incident is still under investigation. (Screenshot of YouTube video)
Red Deer RCMP investigating violent arrest caught on video

Police say officer ‘acted within the scope of his duties’

This image released by Briarcliff Entertainment shows Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, left, with journalist Jamal Khashoggi in a scene from the documentary “The Dissident.” (Briarcliff Entertainment via AP)
US implicates Saudi crown prince in journalist’s killing

WASHINGTON — Saudi Arabia’s crown prince likely approved the killing of U.S.-based… Continue reading

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby speaks during a media briefing at the Pentagon, Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
US strike, first under Biden, kills Iran-backed militiaman

BAGHDAD — A U.S. airstrike in Syria targeted facilities belonging to a… Continue reading

Conservative member of Parliament Michael Cooper holds a press conference as he is joined virtually by fellow members of Parliament, Canadian geriatricians, mental health professionals and Indigenous leaders in Ottawa on Friday, Feb. 26, 2021, regarding the Senate amendments to Bill C-7, an Act to amend the Criminal Code (medical assistance in dying). THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Address anti-Indigenous racism in health care before expanding MAID: advocates, MP

OTTAWA — The federal government should not expand access to medical assistance… Continue reading

Emily Keeping of Wetaskiwin, Alta., was last seen at 4:20 p.m. on Feb. 25, 2021 at the FasGas on 49 St and 50 Ave in Wetaskiwin. Supplied/ Wetaskiwin RCMP.
UPDATE: Wetaskiwin RCMP seek assistance in locating missing 11-year-old

Emily Keeping was last seen on Feb. 25, 2021 at the FasGas on 49 St and 50 Ave in Wetaskiwin.

FILE - Cameron Forte (right) and his Fraser Valley Bandits are 2-0 at the Canadian Elite Basketball League Summer Series after being the Saskatchewan Rattlers. (CEBL photo)
CEBL releases 14-game 2021 schedule, hopes to see fans attend games in person

Season will kick off with the Edmonton Stingers and the Fraser Valley Bandits

FILE - Keegan Messing performs during the Men’s Short program at the 2020 Canadian Tire National Skating Championships in Mississauga, Ont., Friday, Jan. 17, 2020. If the world figure skating championships do go ahead in a bubble in March in Sweden, there is a good chance Canada won’t be there. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Messing leads Canadian figure skating team at world championships

Messing was the only Canadian to compete on the Grand Prix circuit this season

Nurses episode, titled “Achilles Heel,” was first aired on Global in February 2020. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Global pulls ‘Nurses’ episode after scene with Orthodox Jews deemed anti-Semitic

TORONTO — Global TV says it has pulled an episode of Toronto-set… Continue reading

Lady Gaga is offering a $500,000 reward for the return of her two French bulldogs. (Photo by THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Lady Gaga’s dog walker shot, French bulldogs stolen in LA

Dog walker expected to survive injuries

Most Read