Connect with us

City of Red Deer

City Council Forum Part 3: Vaccine mandates and the Restrictions Exemption Program

Published

34 minute read

red deer city hall
In the closing days of the municipal election campaign Todayville has considered the issues that seem to be emerging as priorities for Red Deer voters.  We’ve taken the opportunity to send questions via email to all the Candidates for Mayor and City Council and we’ve promised we’ll post the responses of those who get back to us.  We are happy to add responses from those who haven’t gotten back to us yet over the weekend, but here is a collection from some of the contenders.
We’re separating the responses into the four questions we asked.  The third question is unique to this election but it is currently one of the hottest issues on the 2021 City of Red Deer Municipal Election Candidate Q&A page on Facebook.  Here’s question 3.

3. If elected, will you be in favour of continuing vaccine mandates through the Restrictions Exemption Program and / or any further programs of this type?

Mayoral Candidates

Buck Buchanan

We as the City have gone back into a SOLE (State of Local Emergency) . This in essence takes the decision making process away from Council and puts it into the hands of Administration in the form of an Emergency Management Team. right now that Team is in touch with the M9 Group which is (9) nine large Municipalities in the province. They are trying to figure out what the Restriction Exemption Program looks like. Do I like what is happening now, No but I think the Team is trying their best to figure out what this Program should look like throughout the Province, and in Red Deer. I very much struggle with the Recreation piece and had a woman advice from Red Deer that it is different in Rimbey, and Sylvan and Innisfail so it needs to be addressed asap with the new Council.

Ken Johnston

Vaccines and vaccinations are the safest way through this current fourth wave which is caused such devastation in our hospital systems. Never did I think in Alberta  I would see all surgeries being cancelled and an outreach to the Army and the Red Cross. The current implementation of the restrictions exemption program allows for the maximum usage and safety by our citizens in our facilities. If we did not implement the current program we would have to revert to 1/3 occupancy, social distancing etc. Many businesses and public institutions have made a similar decision. I grieve that this is such a divisive issue in our community. I take no joy in the prospect of  restricting access in any form. The burden of public office is to try and find a balance between individual rights and the rights of the collective society. This virus does not care who we are or what we believe There are consequences for the choices we make, consequences that have materially impacted our economy, education, health and social systems. Increasing rates of vaccination and promising research on drug therapies for Covid make me optimistic that this program could be lifted by the Province in early 2022

Council Candidates

Bruce Buruma

  • Regrettably COVID and the pandemic have become key questions and issues in this municipal election. Municipalities have limited authority and knowledge over this and that’s the way it should be–municipalities should not be making health decisions. These should be provincial responsibility where there is consistency between communities. We need to focus on issues that City Council can make a difference on.
  • Beyond that, other players drive decision making. In my role with Red Deer Public Schools, insurance providers and legal opinions leave little room for local governments to make decisions. We face loss of insurance or the potential of significant premium increases if we do not follow provincial recommendations and mandates.

Brenda Campbell

I support keeping businesses open and operating and of course helping our health care system manage. That being said, I can’t condone continuing vaccine mandates as right now they make no sense to me. I work at a high school where no such thing exists, understandably. The conundrum is how can large high schools, especially, be allowed to operate freely  without any REP when other public facilities, with smaller populations, are stifled? I’m all for increasing levels of protection against covid but because of the inconsistencies with REP, don’t think it’s working.

Craig Curtis

I support the optional Restrictions Exemption Program (REP) and the related vaccine passport. I do not support the mandatory vaccination of all city employees with the exception of health workers and first responders. The introduction of the REP followed extensive joint lobbying by the Edmonton and Calgary Chambers of Commerce. They called for Provincial action following a survey of businesses which showed 70% of respondents supporting proof of vaccination policies. The Chambers statement reads” business and residents have clearly indicated the need for a standardized framework to ensure consumer confidence and protect worker safety.”

Micheal Dawe

The restrictions to access to facilities were imposed by the Provincial Government and the local Emergency Operations Centre. When considering the options available, the City’s administration decided to follow the restrictions exemption program to allow a level of access while still maintaining safety for those using the facilities. It was not an easy decision, but rather one with which they struggled. It is NOT a perfect solution. However, relaxing the rules on facility use too much will raise concerns from many that there is not enough protection from COVID for those using the facilities.

I should add I am not big on mandates. However, as someone who had a serious bout of COVID earlier this year and is now a “long hauler”, I would not want anyone to go through what I have gone through. Hence, when it comes to vaccines, I would strongly recommend that people get them. While vaccines might not prevent ANY chance of getting COVID, the front line medical people I dealt with, including five specialist physicians with extensive hands-on experience, assured me that the vaccines can reduce the severity of an infection. I literally trusted my life in their hands and skills so I trust the advice they give me.

Victor Doerksen

Those who agree to the Restrictions Exemptions program and the vaccine mandate policy for city staff and volunteers have already defined themselves as segregationists. All of justifications, rationalizations from that point forward are just a matter of degree. Where do you stop? Everyone one of our political leaders, Federal and Provincial recognized early on that vaccine mandates would divide people, and all were opposed. But when things weren’t going the way they promised they
had to find somebody/something to blame, to identify a scapegoat that would allow them to “rationally” change their tune … the unvaccinated became that scapegoat.

I have been clear from day 1 of my campaign that I am opposed to vaccine mandates. It’s not an easy position to take because it has other consequences. We simply cannot allow our society to become divided. For as long as our provincial masters set the rules options are limited. Red Deer businesses will still have to make their own decisions about implementation of the Restrictions Exemptions program. The city will have to move to limit capacity and get creative in finding ways to deliver services to citizens. I’m confident it can be done.

What should concern everyone, regardless of where they land on this issue, is that City Council never voted on either the implementation of the Restrictions Exemption program nor on the policy of vaccine mandates for city staff and volunteers. An issue that affects such a large number of citizens ought to have had the scrutiny of Council. This speaks to the necessity to have a thorough review/overhaul of how the governance model is to work.

Sarah Harksen

No. As a Parent and a Citizen I think its horrible that we would allow segregation to happen in our community. I support those who wish to get vaccinated for their safety and health. I do not a support a passport that disconnects others from the community including not allowing them to utilize the facilities.  We are all tax payers in the community and should be allowed to access services that we pay for. I also think we need to take steps to help stop the spread of covid such as masks, 1/3 capacity  etc. I am okay with wearing a mask if it allows businesses to stay open and people employed. Having to pay 40 dollars everytime we want to see our kids play events is not right or fair. I also think that the City has segregated our children into this equation. We have many kids that are not fully vaccinated my own included who can no longer access the facilities.

Vesna Higham

It’s hard to answer this question without the context of how serious the Covid crisis has become in this 4 th wave, so I’ll begin with some data around that as context for my position on the question.

I typically update this weekly, so apologies for not having updated it yet this week … the numbers are generally trending downward with central zone at 3,180 active cases (Red Deer around 800), with 208 in RD regional hospital and 22 in intensive care. However, in the past 48 hours alone, our Red Deer hospital has lost 7 patients to Covid.
_________________________________________________________________________________________________________
As of Monday, October 4 th , Red Deer has 904 active Covid cases, down from the record setting high of 915 the Monday prior, which broke the previous pandemic record high back in May 2021 at 911. In the last week alone, our RD hospital transferred 28 patients down to Calgary so they could receive proper treatment since we were beyond capacity in our regional hospital.

As of Monday, there are 20,674 active Covid cases in Alberta – which accounts for almost one-half of the 44,320 active cases in all of Canada. Alberta, with 4.4 million people has almost half of the total active Covid cases in all of Canada (population of 38 million). With 12% of the total population of Canada, we have almost 50% of all active Covid cases.

Our central zone accounts for a severely disproportionate percentage of Alberta’s active cases:
 Edmonton zone: 4,903
 Calgary zone: 4,930
 Central zone: 4,378
 North zone: 4,211
 South zone: 2,224

Calgary zone (with more than 10 times the population) has only 11% more active cases than our Central zone, even though the population ratio suggests it should be significantly higher.  Over the PAST WEEK alone, our Province witnessed the following Covid stats:
 10,430 new active cases
 1,079 currently in hospital
 257 patients in ICU:

the max ICU bed capacity province-wide for decades normally sits at 173 beds, but we’ve had to create an additional 197 surge beds for a total ICU capacity across the province of 370 beds (this includes all surge ICU beds cobbled together from PICU, NICU ICU resources and staff from all other hospital departments to tend to these ICU patients).

 Factoring in the non-Covid ICU patients, our Red Deer ICU capacity is beyond 100% (we’re transferring patients out) and the rest of the Province is at 84 and 87% capacity and growing daily due to the recent steep increase in Covid patients requiring urgent care.
 This week, the military, Red Cross, and health care workers from other provinces have been called in to support our health care system.

Over the PAST WEEK alone:
 Of the 10,430 new active cases, 2,257 cases from Central zone – 22%
 Of the 755 Covid hospital admissions, 186 from Central zone – 25%.
 Of the 83 deaths, 22 from Central zone – 27%
__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
We are in a health crisis that needs to be urgently addressed because if we don’t, there will be no UCU beds for our children if they get into a car accident or for our parents if they have a stroke, etc. etc.

My husband is a pharmacist whose patient told him that his wife passed away last week from a bladder infection because they couldn’t get her prioritized for care at the hospital. THIS is the real risk and tragedy around the high Covid cases taking up scarce resources in our health care and ICU system.  Hospitals are witnessing more severe cases of Covid sickness, with longer stays per patient because of the Delta variant. ICU patients used to manage on approximately 3 litres of oxygen per person to get through their hospital visit; now patients require an average of 10 litres of oxygen per person to recover.

A lot of people believe that the government is lying or misleading people about the real Covid impacts. I’ve heard people say, “Red Deer’s hospital has always been at capacity, nothing’s different now with Covid.” Or: “Covid’s not responsible for the health-care crisis, it’s the lack of nurses and doctors.” etc. That’s simply not true. Covid is responsible for our current hospital crisis and if we don’t address that reality, our urgent care capacity will collapse at the Red Deer hospital and across the province. Many have described the Covid vaccines as “unproperly tested, experimental DNA-altering serum” and are wary about being injected with what they perceive to be unknown, or worse, harmful recently developed technologies. However, the technology for the mRNA vaccines has been studied for several decades.

Canadian scientist Ian MacLachlan who decades ago worked on the first mRNA technology said this: “Many people believe the mRNA vaccines came out of nowhere, but this technology has been in the works for years. I’ve had conversations with folks that imagine they were developed within the last 12 to 18 months,” he said. “But in reality, very soon after they discovered nucleic acids and their role in biology, people began thinking of ways of using nucleic acids as medicine. The idea of using RNA as a vaccine is something that’s been around for 20 or 30 years.” (https://www.ctvnews.ca/health/coronavirus/how-the-early-work-of-a-canadian-scientist-and-his-team-made-the-covid-19-vaccines-possible-1.5601481)

Please let me be clear: I totally support a person’s right to make medical decisions for their own health and body. However, part of the problem is that a lot of misinformation has been floating around on Facebook and YouTube that causes people to mistrust what has been proven to be very safe, effective vaccines – not necessarily to prevent ever contracting Covid, but to mitigate the harsh, often life-threatening impacts of the Delta variant on even the young and healthy and to prevent our health care system from collapsing.

So, to answer the question posed: I support our right to have a hospital bed to come to if we get into an accident, have cancer, a heart attack, or a stroke. I support not allowing our health care system to collapse under the weight of Covid patient hospitalizations where patients are now sicker and require longer stays and more ICU visits from this new variant than in any of the previous three waves (why hospitalization rates have gone up).  I do support the current Restrictions Exemption Program (REP) to enter City buildings and facilities and if I’m being honest, I would support a mandatory vaccine passport system across our city (province), rather than the optional REP, which places an unnecessary burden on individual businesses to decide.

I DO NOT SUPPORT making it mandatory for ALL citizens in the Province to get a Covid vaccine, however, there are sectors of our public employees who interact with the public in close daily contact (nurses, doctors, paramedics etc.) that should be required to vaccinate due to the risk it places on the rest of society if they don’t.  No one’s fundamental freedoms are being abridged by requiring proof of vaccination for non-essential services. Though it may be an inconvenience, eating at a restaurant, working out in a gym, or playing hockey are not constitutional rights. Going to a movie theatre is not a freedom protected by the Charter.  People are still free to choose not to get vaccinated, but there are – and rightly ought to be –
consequences for that choice, because the consequences to our health care system (which we all rely on to be there for us if we get seriously injured or sick), are dire at the moment – largely because of people’s choices not to vaccinate. Currently 80% of all Covid hospitalizations are non-vaccinated people, because vaccinated people typically don’t get very sick even if they contract Covid.

Furthermore, Covid used to afflict mostly the elderly. Among the 10,430 new active cases in Alberta this past week alone: 6,497 were under 40 years old and 3,951 were over 40. Currently, the hardest hit demographic are the 30-39 year olds – that’s our sobering reality. Finally, I recognize that pandemic response (including related vaccine issues) is top-of-mind for many people in this election – even determinative, vote-deciding for some. However, four years is a long time to have a Councillor in place and many issues will arise during the upcoming term where conservative-minded people will look for a conservative voice on Council – and if that’s you, I ask you to read through my brochure ([email protected]) before making a final decision. If not, no worries either way – Council ought to reflect a broad spectrum of political and community perspectives.

Cindy Jefferies

I support public health measures. Public health is for the benefit of the public -all of us.  I know people who have died of COVID.  I know people who have had life saving surgeries postponed because our hospitals are beyond capacity and completely overwhelmed with patients suffering from COVID. As an Albertan, I have been vaccinated for numerous diseases throughout my life. It used to be mandatory before enrolling in public education. In some provinces it still is. As a person who likes to travel, I have been vaccinated for things like yellow fever. Why? Because the country I was travelling to insisted upon it.  It was a requirement of entry to protect people. In this country many people gave their lives for the greater good.  For me, it’s a small sacrifice to take a vaccine that has a very low rate of side effects, to benefit myself, my family, and others in my community, and to help alieviate the pressures on our healthcare system. If I have a heart attack tomorrow, I will depend on science and medicine to try and save me. When it comes to the pandemic I feel the same way, I will trust the science and the medical professionals. The restrictions do not prohibit people who are not vaccinated from accessing essential services.  Unvaccinated people contribute to the greater good by foregoing non-essential activity in the community thereby helping to reduce transmission of the virus. It’s a choice we all get to make.

Ryan Laloge

This is a multipart question with imbedded constrictions and presumptions. Our Provincial Health authority should act for all Albertans with common rules in all communities and not mandates here and there.  All Albertans should be permitted access to business and city facilities unless they are symptomatic or infected, they are real people, living real lives, paying real taxes. The question implies we are being asked to burn witches at the stake (including non-transmitting individuals) while we send our (including my) unvaccinated children to school without this prejudice?

Lawrence Lee

I do support the notion of immunization throughout our community. I am an analyst by nature and the overwhelming science and current number that have been immunized having the lowest chance of adverse health outcomes.  As an elected official there is a duty of care to your community. We are already seeing the positive results of having our seniors immunized – low hospitalization rate. Also, I would like to point out that people would still have access to any facility or business with confirmation of a negative COVID test within the past 72 hours.  I do believe there is a lot of misinformation out there and would encourage understanding and promote education to achieve common ground,

Janise Somer

As a candidate, I am urging voters to put aside their opinions about masks, vaccines & vaccine passports, and vote for the best candidates to represent you for the next 4 years. COVID will hopefully soon be in the rear-view mirror! What if the candidate you are supporting because of their opinion on vaccines votes for a 25% increase in property taxes, or a decrease of 25% that results in cutting services you care about? Or maybe a candidate wants to decrease snow removal services to pay for more bike lanes, or cancel the plan for more bike lanes in favour of increased snow removal? What if the candidate you are supporting because of their opinion on vaccines wants to spend $5 million of your tax dollars on something you don't support? I urge you to research candidates based on city issues that matter to you, not on provincial healthcare issues.

However, to answer your question, I have always supported Provincial Health guidelines. This is because the City of Red Deer does not have a team of doctors and scientists on staff to make these healthcare decisions, so we need to trust the province to make good healthcare decisions for all its municipalities. Have they made perfect decisions? Probably not. But is there a province, state or country that has?!?! This global pandemic and Delta Variant has been challenging for governments around the world.

Dianne Wyntjes

The role in public health orders is new to municipalities as those decisions have previously rested with Provincial and Federal orders of government. Municipalities continue to work their
way thorough these health matters during the pandemic including the mask bylaw, following the Provincial Restrictions Exemption Program at municipal sites with vaccination proof or a negative rapid test within 72 hours of entry, and now through City operations, a staff immunization policy.

The questions posed about these programs resonate throughout Alberta and Canada. Do we motivate individuals through incentives, such as what was seen by the Provincial Government, or do we do bring about restrictions that prevent individuals from access to all city facilities? Do we continue to educate and hope individuals do what’s best for the community and to protect our health care system? Do we act upon or do what each of us can do to slowdown and
hopefully prevent the transmission of the virus? We do all of these.

Yes to the current mandate and Restrictions Exemption Program. This mandate is important to me because at this stage of pandemic response, provincially and locally, it is about the care provided throughout the hospitals, and locally at Red Deer Regional Hospital and reducing the spread of the virus. In my view these health decisions are made for the overall public good and measured to the health and science benefits. We all hope the pressures will ease at the hospitals. I support and have appreciation for all the front line medical staff, nurses and doctors and health care teams who have been living beside covid for the last 20 months, along with those medical teams now coming from other provinces to support Alberta ICU capacity and patient care. We must also be cognizant that Hospital care, surgery needs or accidents continue, and that patient care must be available when needed. I worry for all those having surgeries or treatments delayed. I also support the science that the vaccines can reduce the covid illness, and acknowledge the reports that many of the covid cases being admitted to hospital are unvaccinated individuals. This is the first time our generation is living through a pandemic. The restrictions, lack of access to businesses (as determined by the businesses themselves as there is no bylaw) and city facilities (as determined by the City of Red Deer) is the attempt and responsibility to do everything that each of us can to prevent the spread of the
virus and using the tools available to us: masks, social distancing, sanitizing, proper ventilation in buildings, changes and adaptation to work procedures, distancing, staying at home when ill, and vaccinations.  Yes, there is much to adapt to. The goal for me is the collective support for our community to keep us as healthy as we can and to keep the economy moving.

No to any further programs of this type at this time; I cannot commit to a program until I know what it is about.

I recognize the dismay and frustration with the complications of measures taken. City Council and City administration receives messages expressed by Red Deer citizens, who choose not to be vaccinated and through the Provincial Restrictions Exemption Program, are not currently permitted to access Municipal sites, such as Recreation facilities or who do not want to provide a negative rapid test result. It’s to be noted the City of Red Deer Council did not pass a bylaw for all Red Deer businesses/organizations to comply with the Provincial Restrictions Program; it is up to each of the businesses/organizations to set their process. The City of Red Deer, currently under a State of Local Emergency since September 17th, 2021, continues to view, evaluate and adjust as we all live through these challenging times.

 

 

 

 

Todayville is a digital media and technology company. We profile unique stories and events in our community. Register and promote your community event for free.

Follow Author

City of Red Deer

Residential plowing continues in North Red Deer Monday and Tuesday. Check here for your neighbourhood.

Published on

City crews are removing snow from city streets after nine days of near-constant snowfall. At this time, Purple Routes are completed. Red routes and Snow Zone D (Downtown) will be completed, and residential snow clearing began Monday, November 14, 2022.
(Check below to confirm which zone your neighbourhood is identified as.)
Zone Subdivisions Map
A Kentwood, Johnstone Snow Zone A – Residential Routes Map (pdf)
B Glendale, Normandeau, Pines Snow Zone B – Residential Routes Map (pdf)
C Fairview, Highland Green, Oriole Park, Riverside Meadows Snow Zone C – Residential Routes Map (pdf)
E Clearview, Garden Heights, Michener Hill, Parkvale, Waskasoo, Woodlea Snow Zone E – Residential Routes Map (pdf)
F Deer Park (north of 39 St), Rosedale, Timberlands Snow Zone F – Residential Routes Map (pdf)
G Bower, South Hill, West Park Snow Zone G – Residential Routes Map (pdf)
H Eastview, Grandview, Morrisroe, Mountview Snow Zone H – Residential Routes Map (pdf)
I Anders, Sunnybrook (north) Snow Zone I – Residential Routes Map (pdf)
J Deer Park (south of 39 St), Lancaster Snow Zone J – Residential Routes Map (pdf)
K Inglewood, Sunnybrook (south)/Southbrook, Vanier Snow Zone K – Residential Routes Map (pdf)
O Evergreen Snow Zone O – Residential Routes Map (pdf)
It is early in the season for residential plowing in Red Deer compared to recent years. The snow fell on warm ground and created a layer of ice beneath it, which exacerbated the situation on our roads. With this in mind, The City moved forward with a residential plow on Monday, November 14.
“Right now, crews are working around the clock to keep roads drivable. With minimal breaks between snowfalls, crews have found themselves circling back to start the process of clearing Purple and Red Routes before being able to move on to other secondary arterials,” said Halldorson “In the same way citizens have been circling back to repeatedly shovel their sidewalks and driveways, our crews have been circling back to re-plow bridge decks and priority roadways.”
Additionally, crews are sanding intersections, hills, and bridges as much as possible.

The current schedule for residential snow clearing is as follows:

Snow Plow 2022

Residents are encouraged to watch for no-parking signs on Green Routes and at the entrance to their neighbourhoods for Grey Routes and to sign up for Snow Zone notices at www.reddeer.ca/notifyreddeer to get text, email or phone call reminders before they need to move their vehicles off the street.

“We ask that citizens move their vehicles to make way for plows and equipment as this enables crews to move through neighbourhoods quickly,” said Halldorson.

Parking restrictions are in effect from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., daily while plowing is scheduled, and vehicles left on the street will be ticketed and towed at the owner’s expense.

The City of Red Deer has a priority-based snow and ice control program with specific triggers to indicate when, where and how plowing and sanding should take place across the city. There are many different types of roads, sidewalks and paths throughout the city that serve different purposes. The overall goal is to plow sooner, quicker and more often, within the budget provided.

Residents are encouraged to contact Parks & Public Works at 403-342-8238 to report streets in need of attention.

Continue Reading

City of Red Deer

The rich and sobering history of Red Deer’s “Unknown Soldier”

Published on

The origins of Red Deer’s beautiful Cenotaph date back to the end of WWI.  The statue of the Unknown Soldier is a provincial historic site.  In this article, historian and author Michael Dawe helps us understand the rich history of this monument and reminds us all of the sacrifices of our forebearers.  Enjoy the photo gallery showing the changes to the Cenotaph and its surroundings over the years. 

The Cenotaph by Michael Dawe (originally published Nov. 9, 2019)

There are many memorials around the City of Red Deer to honour those who served and those who lost their lives during a time of war. The main community memorial is the Cenotaph, the statue of the Unknown Soldier that stands in the centre of Ross Street in the heart of downtown Red Deer.

The origins of the Cenotaph go back to the end of the First World War. That conflict had been a searing experience for Red Deer. 850 young men and women from the City and surrounding districts had enlisted. Of these, 118 lost their lives. Of those who returned, many had suffered terrible wounds and faced a lifetime of ill health and suffering.  Hence, it was extremely important to the community that a fitting and very special memorial be created.

On December 18, 1918, five weeks after the end of the War, the Central Alberta local of the Great War Veterans Association (forerunner of the Royal Canadian Legion) organized a large public meeting to discuss the creation of such a memorial.  Three proposals were initially made. The first was to construct a pyramidal monument of river cobblestones in the centre of the City. The second was to construct a community hall and recreation facility next to City Hall. The third was to purchase the old Alexandra (Park) Hotel and turn it into a community centre.

After considerable discussion, a fourth proposal was adopted. It was decided to build a monument rather than a community centre.  However, at the suggestion of Lochlan MacLean, it was also decided that this monument be in the form of a statue of a soldier, mounted on a pedestal, rather than a cobblestone pyramid or obelisk.

Major Frank Norbury, an architectural sculptor at the University of Alberta and a veteran of the War, was commissioned to carve the statue. He came up with the concept of carving the Unknown Soldier as he was coming off active duty on the front line. He was to face west, toward home and peace. He was also to be positioned towards the C.P.R. station from which most of the soldiers had left Red Deer for the War.

This latter point was one of the greatest controversies about the Cenotaph. City Council and a few others wanted it in the centre of the City Square (now City Hall Park). However, the majority wanted it facing directly towards the station and in the middle of Ross Street, Red Deer’s busiest thoroughfare, so that it would be a constant reminder of the sacrifices of the War.

Meanwhile, fundraising for the project commenced, but proved quite a challenge. Post-war Red Deer faced one of the worst economic depressions in its history. However, despite the general shortage of money, by the following summer more than half of the $6200 needed had been raised.  Unfortunately, Red Deer City Council decided that given its financial situation, it could not contribute any money to the project. This decision reinforced the opinion of the Memorial Committee that Council’s wish to have the Cenotaph in the middle of the City Square should be ignored.

There were still a lot of hard feelings about that lack of official City participation. Eventually, City Council agreed to build a boulevard in the middle of Ross Street, west of 49 Avenue, as a site for the Cenotaph. A decision was also made to place street lights at either end of that boulevard to provide nighttime illumination of the spot.

There was another debate regarding the proper means of recording the names of those killed in the War. Some wanted tablets placed on the pedestal. However, the Memorial Committee was worried about having a complete and accurate list. Finally, it was agreed to have two scrolls prepared, one with the names of those who had served and one with the names of those who had lost their lives. Both scrolls were put into a copper tube and placed in a cavity in the pedestal.

On September 15, 1922, the Cenotaph was officially unveiled. To the delight of the community, Governor General Lord Byng of Vimy agreed to come and do the honours. Lord Byng was a hero of one of Canada’s most significant military victories, the Battle of Vimy Ridge. Vimy was also a victory that had also come with very heavy loss of life, both locally and nationally.

At the time of the official unveiling, it was reported that the Cenotaph was the first sculpture war memorial in Alberta. Once the official dedication was completed, the monument was placed into trust with the City on behalf of those who had contributed to its creation.

The Cenotaph was rededicated in 1949 to include remembrance of those who served and lost their lives in the Second World War. A plaque signifying that designation was added to the pedestal. After the completion of the new City Hall Park and the Memorial Centre in the early 1950’s. there was a push to relocate the Cenotaph from its location on Ross Street to either the centre of City Hall Park or a new site in front of the Memorial Centre. However, a plebiscite was held in 1953 in which the citizens of Red Deer voted to keep the Cenotaph were it was.

Another plaque was added in 1988 in memory of those who served and died in the Korean Conflict. At the same time, through the efforts of some dedicated members of the public, special lighting was added to ensure that the Cenotaph was highly visible at night.

There were new proposals in the 1990’s to relocate the Cenotaph to City Hall Park. However, Charlie Mac Lean, son of Lochlan MacLean and one of the last surviving people to have actually built the Cenotaph, offered the opinion that he did not think that the monument could be safely relocated.

In 2006, the Cenotaph was extensively cleaned and repaired. City Council then successfully applied to have the Cenotaph designated as a Provincial Historic Site. In 2010-2011, a beautiful Veterans’ Park was created around the Cenotaph, to enhance it and to make it more accessible to the public.  Moreover, eight interpretive panels were created to let people know the full significance of Red Deer’s official war memorial. They give the stories of those who served in the Boer War, First World War, Second World War, Korean Conflict, the Afghanistan War and all the peace-keeping and peace-making missions in which Canadians have been involved.

Lest We Forget.

Michael Dawe

Here are some other local history stories you might enjoy

The Battle of Vimy Ridge Described by Michael Dawe

Armistice Day 11/11/1918 from a Red Deer perspective in pictures and story

 

Continue Reading

december, 2022

thu08dec5:30 pm7:30 pmPregnancy & Loss Support Group - Zoom Session5:30 pm - 7:30 pm

Trending

X