“Sometimes, we are so attached to our way of life that we turn down wonderful opportunities simply because we don’t know what to do with it.” Paulo Coelho.
What wonderful opportunity am I talking about? Let me give you a clue.
Lethbridge Alberta, population just shy of 100,000, Surrey B.C., population of 500,000, Singapore, population of 5,000,000, London England, population of 8,800,000 and Beijing, population of 21,500,000 all have man made lakes.
These cities, some are land locked, and some on the ocean, all invested in creating a man made lake. Parks, recreation, sports or works of art they were all investments for their residents.
So what do these wonderful resident based investments have to do with Red Deer turning down a wonderful opportunity?
Red Deer does not have to build a man made lake for it’s residents because it has natural lakes. It already has a 100 acre lake with 2 miles of shoreline. It has Hazlett Lake. So?
Hazlett Lake sits besides Hwy 2. So? Gasoline Alley sits besides Hwy 2 and is a huge economic success story, so huge that is pulling businesses out of Red Deer.
Now comes huge plans for Gasoline Alley, new accesses, new traffic circles, 200 assisted living homes and something like 800 new homes. Will Red Deer now see their population decrease more with the migration of residents to Gasoline Alley?
We have seen big box stores like Princess Auto leave the city recently along with Greyhound Bus, add in the accounting firms, businesses, dealers, stores, hotels, restaurants, that could have been within city limits, but are operating in gasoline alley and paying county taxes, and residents could be next.
I read in an article that the Red Deer County gets 3 times as much tax revenue from Gasoline Alley as from all the agricultural land in the county. That is before this major expansion.
Gasoline Alley is along Hwy 2 south of 32 Street and it is siphoning money out of Red Deer. Why not learn from their successes and emulate it on the north side of Red Deer. Why not build a gasoline alley along Hwy 2 north of Hwy 11a?
We have something that Gasoline Alley does not have, Hazlett Lake. The city is talking about building an Aquatic Centre. What could be more appealing than an Aquatic Centre with a lake? Attracting stores, restaurants, hotels, gas stations, tourism industries and residents.
Hwy 2 is one of the busiest highways in the country, and Hazlett Lake is Red Deer’s largest lake and is highly visible from Hwy 2. Hazlett Lake could be a destination more popular than Gasoline Alley.
Aren’t we talking about a lot of money? You are correct and that is why we will miss this once in a generation opportunity.
We are talking about 100 million dollars to build an Aquatic Centre with a much needed 50 metre pool, and that is a big chunk of change. City hall balks at spending that kind of money for the residents of Red Deer, to kick start development, to attract provincial and national competitions. Now we did spend 135 million moving the public works yard to make way for the Riverlands, was it 47 million to re-align Ross St. and Taylor Drive for the Riverlands, they support a 23 million dollar footbridge for the Riverlands parallel to Taylor Bridge.
The Winter Games has a budget of 77 million dollars to accommodate 20,000 visitors over a 2 week span in 2019, but a 100 million dollar swimming pool can wait.
The Collicutt Centre cost the city about 35 million dollars when it opened 16 years ago and it is the most popular recreational centre in Red Deer and look at the development in that corner of the city, now.
Someone down at city hall, retired now, told me in 2014 that it would cost over 100 million dollars if we built it then in 2014.
The budget for the Aquatic Centre in 2013 was 87 million so I rounded it up to 100 million. We hit economic recessionary times and labour costs, material costs, and other costs declined and our interest rates were low. We could have kept people working and kick started our development in the north west sector of the city like Collicutt helped in the south east sector.
The city is still blind to opportunities except notable exceptions like incumbents Frank Wong and Tanya Handley. The plan is to save for later development. Can we save faster than inflation?
Collicutt cost 35 million, now it would be about 135 million. If we had waited we may have saved up 100 million and then took out a 35 million dollar loan.
The economic picture is supposed to be improving and infrastructure inflationary delays are expected to increase costs by 10% per annum. So every year we delay the budget goes up 10% or 10 million in the first year, 11 million in the second year, 12.1 million in the third year. So if we wait 3 years, we would have to save 33.1 million dollars and still borrow 100 million dollars at a possibly higher interest rate. Simplified but it does show another side of the issue. We also do without a 50 metre pool and postpone development, jobs, and residential income for 3 years.
The current plan is to wrap the lake with residential development and a trail. What a wasted opportunity.
Hazlett Lake is our opportunity, will we waste it? Do we know what to do with it? I offered an option but I often really wonder if some folks down at city hall know what to do with it.
If interested call or e-mail the candidates before voting, on Monday October 16, 2017.
Reddeer.ca has on their website an official list of candidates with phone numbers and e-mail addresses for the public. I am listing them;
CANDIDATES FOR THE OFFICE OF MAYOR
Number of Positions to be filled: 1
Name -Phone -E-mail Address
Sean Burke 403-392-2893 email@example.com
Tara Veer 403-358-3568 firstname.lastname@example.org
CANDIDATES FOR THE OFFICE OF COUNCILLOR
Number of Positions to be filled: 8
Name Phone E-mail Address
Sandra (Sam) Bergeron 403-304-9884 email@example.com
S.H. (Buck) Buchanan 403-348-3240 firstname.lastname@example.org
Valdene Callin 403-348-9958 email@example.com
Matt Chapin 403-347-1934 firstname.lastname@example.org
Michael Dawe 403-346-9325 email@example.com
Rob Friss 403-597-1355 firstname.lastname@example.org
Calvin Goulet-Jones 403-872-4253 email@example.com
Jason Habuza 403-597-8712 firstname.lastname@example.org
Tanya Handley 403-596-5848 email@example.com
Vesna Higham 403-505-1172 firstname.lastname@example.org
Ted Johnson 403-396-5962 email@example.com
Ken Johnston 403-358-8049 firstname.lastname@example.org
Cory Kingsfield 403-352-6450 email@example.com
Jim Kristinson 403-318-0330 firstname.lastname@example.org
Lawrence Lee 403-346-7388 email@example.com
Kris Maciborsky 587-679-5747 firstname.lastname@example.org
Doug Manderville 403-318-0545 email@example.com
Bobbi McCoy 403-346-0171 firstname.lastname@example.org
Ian Miller 403-392-4527 Ianmiller_623@hotmail.com
Jeremy Moore 403-357-4187 email@example.com
Rick More 403-340-9330 firstname.lastname@example.org
Lynne P Mulder 403-392-1177 email@example.com
Bayo Nshombo Bayongwa 403-307-1074 firstname.lastname@example.org
Matt Slubik 403-848-3762 email@example.com
Jordy Smith 587-377-4384 firstname.lastname@example.org
Brice Unland 403-597-4321 email@example.com
Jonathan Wieler 403-358-8270 firstname.lastname@example.org
Frank Wong 403-872-3238 email@example.com
Dianne Wyntjes 403-505-4256 firstname.lastname@example.org