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Opinion

3,000 acres of farmland, yet nowhere to build a pool.

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There are 3000 acres but nowhere to plant a pool. Councillor Buchanan asked Mr. Curtis the city manager, during budget deliberations November 20, 2018, if there was anywhere north of the river to build a pool, Mr. Curtis said no. Four years ago I was appointed to sit on the Community Action Committee to look at the need or recommendations for an Aquatic Centre in Red Deer. A new Mayor and a new Council and time was of the essence.

The city wanted in 2014 to renovate the downtown pool and it was obvious by the paperwork and answers. They repeated, Michener pool was owned by the province. Timberlands had no room available as it was filled with 3 planned high schools and sports fields. Hazlett Lake was too many years down the road, and the Canada Games was in 2019. It had to be built downtown.
That was 4 years ago and we are no closer to having a 50m pool, than we were 4 years ago. But now the city wants it built in Timberlands near the high schools. It would be like the Collicutt Centre near high schools. Also it will be like the Collicutt, in that it will be east of 30 Ave, between 29 Street and 69 Street. 30 Ave will become like Calgary’s Deerfoot Trail with all that traffic.
In about 300 acres we will have 3 high schools, sports fields, pickle ball courts and an aquatic centre, but in 3,000 acres north of 11A there is no room to park a pool.

Councillor Wong asked about, in my mind, the perfect spot just north of 11a near Hazlett Lake, visible to the QE2 and Mr. Curtis said the road allowance would be too narrow and they would have to buy private land to accommodate the pool and services. That would add uncertainty to the costs, but they do not mention that costs uncertainty when they talk about buying 2.5 acres of private land in the Timberlands. Is it a done deal, have they already made a conditional seal subject to council approval? I do not know.

Mr. Curtis reminded council that the city has had 2 opportunities to build a 50m pool in the last 20 years and they were squandered away. One when building the Collicutt and again when they renovated the downtown pool. Will they do it again?
The city just built the Servus Arena and the college just opened a new ice facility and the city wants to build a new rink to replace the Kinex arena when it fails. The Mayor says Red Deer services what it has. Looks like we will get another new arena, slated for the Dawe but many are expressing doubts about the feasibility of that venture and feel that it will be ultimately built by the Collicutt Centre.

In 2001 the city opened it’s 4th and last pool with a population of about 70,000 people. The city services what it has. If you read the financial statements you will notice 2 things that our population is just shy of 100,000 people and that they expect the Michener Pool will be closed at some point in the next capital budgetary cycle. Leaving us with 3 pools.
If we renovate downtown pool we could be downtown to 2 pools for awhile then back to 3 pools for many years to come. We only build or renovate pools every 20-30 years and by then the Dawe and Collicutt pools will be 70 and 50 years old.
Using the Aquatic Centre as a catalyst to spur development if we built it north of 11a where development has yet to start. Shoehorning it in with 3 new high schools, new sports fields and pickle ball courts will not get the same bang for the buck.
Why not combine the new ice rink and 50 meter pool into a Collicutt style complex in an empty field on the north west corner of Red Deer like we did with the Collicutt Center on the south-east corner of Red Deer.

Spurring development and enjoyed by 60% of recreation facility users in Red Deer, far surpassing all other pools combined.
This will not happen, because the city is too focused on process and awaiting good fortune to come a calling. I watched the debate and I noticed that council sits in a semi-circle facing in and I marvelled at how their attention is focused in and not out.
I also noticed that the Mayor and City Manager sit so much higher than council, reigning supreme over the lowly council. Enforced in my mind by little actions like the Mayor telling a councillor his question has taken 6 minutes, though there are no time lines to follow. Shouldn’t an elected councillor in his elected duties as guardians of the public purse be allowed the same latitude and time as the equally elected mayor?

We have 9 strong and very intelligent elected members looking after our well being, should they not be allowed to bring their strength to the table? We have people trained in law, economics, planning, business, agriculture, politics, law enforcement, education, history, to name but a few. Showcase them don’t muzzle them.

If they have concerns don’t dismiss them or limit their time, get to the bottom of it, that is why we elected them. The city has for many years survived the booms and busts of the Alberta economy but we have not recovered and are not enjoying the rebounding economy like the rest of the province for the last few years, why? Our economy is failing while everyone else is enjoying growth and our declining population is facing more doom and gloom while those around us our seeing positive growth. Perhaps it is time to stop waiting for potential future development to land in our lap and make Red Deer attractive to businesses, residents, tourists and athletes to name but a few.

As one gentleman wrote about us hosting the Canada Games but we can’t hold some of the events, and we are showcasing to the country what we don’t have. Poor publicity. If only we had looked outward and acted those other times. Just saying.

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Alberta

Retired Oil Field Worker sparks national conversation with his pitch for a new route to move Alberta Oil

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The following Opinion piece comes from local writer / editorialist (and former oil field worker) Garfield Marks. 

We have not been able to run our bitumen through a pipeline to a refinery in New Brunswick. There has been resistance in parts of Ontario and in Quebec. What if we came up with another plan. Would we consider it? There will be road blocks, but not insurmountable, would we consider it?
Yes how about Thunder Bay?
Thunder Bay, Ontario, the largest Canadian port of the St. Lawrence Seaway located on the west end of Lake Superior, 1850 kms. from Hardisty, Alberta. A forgotten jewel.
So what, you may ask. 
They used to ship grain from Thunder Bay in huge tankers to ports all over the world. Why not oil?
The Saint Lawrence Seaway ships fuel, gasoline and diesel tankers, to this day.
We could run oil tankers to the Irving refinery in New Brunswick, bypassing the controversial pipeline running through eastern Ontario and Quebec.
The pipeline, if that was the transport model chosen, would only need to run through parts of Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario. Like, previously stated the pipeline would only be 1850 kms. long. 
The other great thing about Thunder Bay is the abundance of rail lines. Transportation for such things as grain and forestry products from western Canada. If you can’t run pipeline from Hardisty, through to Thunder Bay, use the railroad.
Why Hardisty, you may ask.
Hardisty, according to Wikipedia,  is mainly known as a pivotal petroleum industry hub where petroleum products such as Western Canada Select blended crude oil and Hardisty heavy oil are produced, stored and traded.
The Town of Hardisty owes its very existence to the Canadian Pacific Railway. About 1904 the surveyors began to survey the railroad from the east and decided to locate a divisional point at Hardisty because of the good water supply from the river. 
Hardisty, Alberta has the railroad and has the product, the storage capacity, and the former Alberta government planned on investing $3.7 billion in rail cars for hauling oil while Thunder Bay has the railroad and an under utilised port at the head of the St. Lawrence Seaway.
Economics are there along with opportunity, employment would be created and the east coast could end its’ dependency on imported oil. 
Do we have the vision or willingness to consider another option. I am just asking for all avenues to be considered.
In my interviews in Ontario there is a willingness to discuss this idea. 
The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation is still reviewing the idea of shipping crude oil from western Canada through its system, and it’s a long way from happening, according to Bruce Hodgson, the Seaway’s director of market development.
“Obviously, there needs to be an ongoing commitment on the part of a producer, and so that’s going to be required for any project of this nature,” he said. 

We could consider it, could we not?
CBC NEWS did a story about this idea on March 7 2019;
A retired oil field worker in Alberta has “floated” a novel solution to Alberta’s oil transportation woes: pipe the bitumen to Thunder Bay, Ont., then ship it up the St. Lawrence Seaway to the Irving oil refinery in New Brunswick.
Marks’ proposal might be more than a pipe dream, according to the director of the Queen’s Institute for Energy and Environmental Policy.
‘I don’t think that it’s a totally nuts idea’
“I don’t think that it’s a totally nuts idea,” Warren Mabee said. “I think that there’s some flaws to it … but this is an idea that could work in certain circumstances and at certain times of year. … It’s not the craziest thing I’ve ever heard.”
The chief executive officer of the Port of Thunder Bay said shipping oil from the port “could easily be done.” 
“We ship refined gasoline and diesel up from Sarnia. We’ve done that for many many years,” Tim Heney told CBC. “So it’s not something that’s that far-fetched.”
There are, however, plenty of potential drawbacks to shipping crude through the Seaway, Mabee explained, not least of which is the fact that it isn’t open year-round.

The need to store oil or redirect it during the winter months could be costly, he said.
Potential roadblocks
Another potential pitfall is capacity, he added; there may not be enough of the right-sized tankers available to carry the oil through the Seaway. 
Finally, he said, the journey by sea from Lake Superior to the Irving refinery in New Brunswick is a long one, so it might make more sense to transport the product to a closer facility such as the one in Sarnia, Ont.
The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation is still reviewing the idea of shipping crude oil from western Canada through its system, and it’s a long way from happening, according to Bruce Hodgson, the Seaway’s director of market development.
“Obviously, there needs to be an ongoing commitment on the part of a producer, and so that’s going to be required for any project of this nature,” he said. 
So far, no producer has come forward seeking to ship crude through Thunder Bay, he said. 

Asked about the possible environmental risks of shipping oil on Lake Superior, both Hodgson and Heney said shipping by tanker is relatively safe; Hodgson noted that any tankers carrying the product would have to be double-hulled, and crews are heavily vetted. 
Time to rethink pipelines?
There hasn’t been a spill in the Seaway system for more than 20 years he said. 
Nonetheless, Mabee said, the potential for an oil spill on the Great Lakes could be a huge issue. 
“The St. Lawrence and the Great Lakes have a lot of people living in close proximity, a lot of people who rely on it for drinking water,” he said. “There’s a delicate ecosystem there. I think a lot of people would push back against this proposal simply from that perspective.”
In fact, one of the reasons Mabee appreciates Marks’ proposal, he said, is because it invites people to weigh the pros and cons of different methods of transporting oil. 
“If we’re not going to build pipelines, but we’re going to continue to use oil, it means that people are going to be looking at some of these alternative transport options,” he said.

“And if we don’t want oil on those alternative transport options, we need to give the pipelines another thought.

Time to consider all options, I dare say.

​Garfield Marks​

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Opinion

The cost of the Canada Winter Games?

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The following Opinion piece comes from local writer/editorialist Garfield Marks.

The Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre is a beautiful building but a very costly one. In more than money.

Construction costs of $22 million is an expensive undertaking. Operating and maintenance and interest on debt compounds the expense. The city is paying $11 million over a 10 year period or $1.15 million per year. (2017-2026) The college and the province are covering the rest, right?

Employees at Red Deer College are paying, too, and some are paying dearly. With their jobs. Red Deer College has to maintain a balanced budget, and with the huge cost of building, operating and maintaining this facility, they had to make cuts.

Early retirement, lay offs, and hours cut are an unintended consequence of the Canada Games.  The Gary W. Harris Wellness Centre was only about 25% of the cost of the winter games and will cost some residents their paycheques, their livelihoods with no one available to top-up their incomes.  Every resident will be paying for this centre for another 7 years, how much are we paying for the other 75%? Will we ever know?

The CFR cost the city last year $151,000 and $50,000 so far this year. Last fall when council voted themselves huge pay increases, one councillor stated they were worth the increases because they brought these events to the city. 

Thank you for lightening our wallets and for some their jobs. Will we ever know the real costs of the Canada games, would we do it again if we knew the real costs? I don’t think so but I doubt we will ever know the real costs, will we?

​Garfield Marks​

Background Information:

Budget Requirements, Council Decision Points and Funding Sources: click reddeer.ca

“…Through a tri-party agreement with The City of Red Deer, the Canada Winter Games Host Society and Red Deer College, a contribution will be made to the College over a 10 year period totalling $11,501,000. This contribution represents about 50 per cent of the expected costs of the Olympic sized ice surface and squash courts to be housed within this facility. Payments of $1.15 million will be paid annually from 2017 to 2026 inclusive. The grants being given to RDC for this project are funded from debt and the Canada Winter Games grant...”

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