Your article Quality of life grades high on Saturday, Oct. 11, in the Advocate prompts me to write this letter.
The questions you ask and whom you ask determines the answers you want to receive. This mini survey no doubt caused a reaction of hand wringing and self backslapping at City Hall. But, is it truly representative?
If you were to ask the “quality of life question” to the residents of the recently annexed Riverview Park subdivision you will likely get a far more critical response, including the question of value received for tax dollars contributed to the city.
Despite the flowery statements of welcome from City Hall in 2009, annexation brought a series of issues and challenges to the residents of Riverview Park by the City of Red Deer that have a severely negative impact on our quality of life.
The latest initiative by the city is the passage of Bylaw 3357/0-2014, for which a public hearing was held on Sept. 15. The passage of this bylaw has serious far reaching and devastating consequences for this area. A public hearing, which is mandated by provincial legislation, is supposed to allow for input by anybody who may be impacted by such a bylaw.
A number of people made their views known and unanimously opposed this bylaw and requested that the city not pass this it in its present form. We requested further consultation and dialogue to arrive at a better and fairer solution.
From the questions and comments from some of the councillors, it became evident that they had serious concerns about the wisdom of continuing with this bylaw.
At this point, the city manager became involved in the discussion and obviously felt that this bylaw that had been initiated by his administration was in jeopardy. Consequently it was requested by the mayor, likely on the urging of the city manager, that the meeting be recessed and continue “in camera” to present confidential information to council.
We are obviously not privileged to know what was discussed in camera or what other information had to be presented to council but it certainly opens the doors to all kinds of speculations. The fact that the meeting had to go to camera to salvage a bylaw that is severely flawed is deeply troubling. If a bylaw has to be passed under the cloak of secrecy, it should not be passed at all.
What is the motive for this bylaw? What is being hidden? Why was due diligence not done ahead of time? What was the urgency that this bylaw had to be passed in such a hurry? Are some of the questions that come to mind.
Upon resumption of the public portion of the meeting, the bylaw was immediately passed with only one councillor opposing it. At least the duty to hold a public meeting had been fulfilled.
The concerns about this latest issue confronting the residents of Riverview Park by the introduction of this bylaw goes far beyond the fact that the bylaw is bad and unfair, that the residents and landowners of Riverview Park are being treated shabbily, that much of the planning and the way this area has been brought into the city by annexation was poorly done with little foresight or consultation with the stake holders.
It also points out, possibly even more importantly, that there are serious problems with governance in this city.