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Opinion

Election 2017 is but a week away. Will we be missing in action when Opportunity comes calling?

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  • “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 amltpro@outlook.com
    Tara Veer 403-358-3568 tara@veerforreddeer.ca

    CANDIDATES FOR THE OFFICE OF COUNCILLOR
    Number of Positions to be filled: 8
    Name Phone E-mail Address
    Sandra (Sam) Bergeron 403-304-9884 sam.vandergulik@gmail.com
    S.H. (Buck) Buchanan 403-348-3240 bucky@xcops.ca
    Valdene Callin 403-348-9958 vcallin@shaw.ca
    Matt Chapin 403-347-1934 chapin141@hotmail.com
    Michael Dawe 403-346-9325 michaeljohndawe@gmail.com
    Rob Friss 403-597-1355 rfriss@shaw.ca
    Calvin Goulet-Jones 403-872-4253 calvinforcouncil@gmail.com
    Jason Habuza 403-597-8712 mrstonecold2002@gmail.com
    Tanya Handley 403-596-5848 rthandley@shaw.ca
    Vesna Higham 403-505-1172 highamclan@gmail.com
    Ted Johnson 403-396-5962 ted.johnson.work@gmail.com
    Ken Johnston 403-358-8049 kencjohnston1@gmail.com
    Cory Kingsfield 403-352-6450 ck4500@gmail.com
    Jim Kristinson 403-318-0330 jkristinson@hotmail.com
    Lawrence Lee 403-346-7388 llee@alacapital.ca
    Kris Maciborsky 587-679-5747 kmaciborsky@yahoo.ca
    Doug Manderville 403-318-0545 dougm4rdcouncil@hotmail.com
    Bobbi McCoy 403-346-0171 bobbi-mccoy@shaw.ca
    Ian Miller 403-392-4527 Ianmiller_623@hotmail.com
    Jeremy Moore 403-357-4187 mm.3@telus.net
    Rick More 403-340-9330 rmore@reddeerchamber.com
    Lynne P Mulder 403-392-1177 lpmulder@shaw.ca
    Bayo Nshombo Bayongwa 403-307-1074 bayongwa@yahoo.com
    Matt Slubik 403-848-3762 slubikmatt@gmail.com
    Jordy Smith 587-377-4384 jordysmith.reddeer@gmail.com
    Brice Unland 403-597-4321 briceunland@me.com
    Jonathan Wieler 403-358-8270 jonwieler@icloud.com
    Frank Wong 403-872-3238 fwong55@shaw.ca
    Dianne Wyntjes 403-505-4256 dwyntjes@shaw.ca


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    Opinion

    Someone Needs Replacing at Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools

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  • Once you put children safety at risk… I can’t be silent any longer.

    From charitable tax receipts not being issued correctly… to having private information of your child’s educational performance being stored and “pushed” to you by foreign apps that you must agree to their terms saying that information is processed by foreign servers, to hearing wasteful spending radio ads, to leaving an entire bus route of elementary school children stranded for nearly an hour while their “bus status app” says “all buses on time”.

    Yes, this is what the RDCRS has to offer you in just this past year alone.

    I ran for trustee in 2013, so sure, some might try to spin this as sour grapes, but when you are tired of administrators that have stopped focusing on children and have become more focused on child recruitment, you have a problem. I ran for a trustee position to prevent this very type of thing going on, and here we sit.

    Don’t get me wrong, I love the teachers, their assistants, and staff doing everything to help the children. But something needs to be done at the top.

    Charitable Receipts

    To be eligible for a charitable donation credit, all tax receipts must have the Registered Charity number on them. This is a 9-digit number followed by “RR” and then 4 more digits. Every single RDCRS receipt received by my accounting firm this past tax season was missing this number. This was raised by yours truly to their office on behalf of my clients. They did not reissue replacements until I pushed back repeatedly and individually per client. They said over the phone they would not be mailing out replacements for everyone. So, if you donated this past year, enjoy your reassessment.

    Performance Reports

    We all want to know how our child(ren) is(are) doing in school. This past year RDCRS decided to launch the use of PowerSchool LLC. They say all of your child’s information is held on Canadian servers. However, when you go to sign up for the app it says that the app uses foreign servers for you to access, view, and receive notifications on, your child’s performance. This is how a foreign app works.

    While you may store information in Canada, it is being sent through other connections and servers in a foreign country like the United States. While I’m fine seeing pictures on social media or getting the quick note from a teacher about what “little Johnny” did today… when it comes to academic performance and review, privacy and security steps should be taken. When I raised this concern with the superintendent, his response is that commercial privacy laws do not apply to them.

    In my request I stated:

    “Further to my previous e-mail: although PIPEDA may not apply to RDCRS directly, by engaging a corporate entity, you are required under FOIP S.38 and 39(1) to have proper controls in place which would require our consent. The corporate entity PowerSchool LLC is to be bound by PIPEDA as well as the stricter Alberta version, PIPA, as it is not a government agency. The app from the Canadian version of the app store that you have instructed parents to use to access is warning us upon installation that the data is being routed via PowerSchool LLC’s US resident servers. This is not a violation of PIPEDA by PowerSchool LLC directly, as they are requesting our permission on installing the app. This warning does not exist unless you are in Canada. This is not a “default”, this is a requirement by PowerSchool for any notifications to Canadian resident users.

    However, the letter sent to parents states that we are required to sign up, or we will not receive information. Requiring parents to use the app in order to access report cards and information on our children is not allowing for our consent, it is being forced. A government department forcing a parent to accept a foreign corporation’s “terms of service agreement” is in violation of FOIP.”

    His response:
    “In your message you reference Sec. 38 and 39(1) of the FOIP Act. Our school division is in compliance with these sections of this Act as we have proper controls in place because our student data is housed on our servers. We protect personal information by using reasonable security arrangements against risk of unauthorized access. As a result parent consent is not required.”

    So parent consent is not required with the school division, but yet parent consent is required by the corporate entity, which then routes the data from Canada through their U.S. server. However, if you don’t consent, you don’t get updates other than a final report at the end of the “reporting term”. Sounds like forced consent to me. Why would I want to have my child’s personal and private information sent through a foreign country?

    Radio Ads

    Instead of focusing on children that they have, they would rather recruit more children instead. During the 2013 election, I was amazed how a former trustee chair stated, “if we convert just one child to Catholicism then it [advertising] is worth it.”

    Apparently, conversion is more important than the education of the children already there.

    I have asked how much was spent on advertising but the only response I received was “fill out a freedom of information request. There will be fees associated with it because it is not your personal information.”

    How many textbooks could we have purchased for the amount they spend on advertising in a year? I’m sure many parents would like to know.

    This brings me to today.

    Transport

    An entire bus route of elementary school children did not get picked up today. Instead, they were sitting outside for 45 minutes when my children contacted me in panic tears and said the bus didn’t come. Like any parent, at first, I was questioning my kids… then worried for other children… then mad.

    Why did I get mad?

    Well, you see the RDCRS has a wonderful “app” that is supposed to notify parents if a bus is canceled or running late. But the status for the route said “On time”.

    So I asked my kids if they missed the bus, they said no, because the other kids at their stop were there too.

    When I picked up my children (and one of the neighbour’s kids after getting permission from her parent) we continued along the route and saw many more children waiting along the route. We pulled over to tell them to contact their parents as it appears there is no bus.

    When I arrived with my children at the school I informed them of the issues. Now, to the school’s staff credit, the school responded quickly and the vice principal drove the route to check the safety of the kids.

    However, when I called the transport office, which is owned and run by RDCRS, they stated that they “had a no-show and only found out now.” They still did not update the bus status on the app and this was one hour after the route was to begin.

    Every employer has some sort of attendance system. Couriers use radios and GPS to track vehicles and routes. But somehow the RDCRS transport office doesn’t have a way to track if a driver showed up to work or not? Or if a bus is on a route or not?

    Then what is the point of an app to notify parents if you don’t use it?

    I’ve been relatively quiet publicly on these things, but today, when you put children safety at risk, it was the last straw.


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    Opinion

    If Canadians believed in Gender Equality why in 151 years have we not allowed a female Premier a second term.

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  • If Gender Equality is so important to Canadians, why do we not allow female Premiers a second term?
    Many argue that historically parties in decline and doomed to electoral defeat elect a female leader to clean up their mess. When the mess gets tidied enough for a possible electoral win they replace the female with a male.
    2 recent examples may be highlighted with British Columbia’s Christie Clark and Ontario’s Kathleen Wynne. Were they desperate measures for parties in decline? Yes according to polls at the time of their taking the reins.
    Alberta’s Allison Redford could be another example but not Alberta’s current Premier, Rachel Notley.
    With most cases, the women were elected leaders of governing parties, but not Alberta’s NDP Premier Rachel Notley. She became a party leader then became Premier through a provincial election.
    She outshone her competition that was split on the right and many of her MLAs rode her coat tails to victory.
    She cleaned up a lot of messes and unfinished business, so is it time to give the office back to a man? According to many talking heads on the television, it looks like we are.
    So is gender equality really important to Canadians or are women here for cleaning up the messes of men and only arm candy for political parties desperate for the next win?
    We have been slow to give women the right to vote, we have yet to give them income parity, we are still trying in some circles to control a woman’s right to control her own body, so will we ever allow a woman to have a second term as a Premier in Canada? I hope so.
    I have argued with various ministries of this government, on issues like no high schools north of the river and plans for 5 high schools east of 30 Ave. in Red Deer. Basically thinking that they were identical to the previous 40 years of Conservative governments, on these issues.
    Now it appears that this government has made progress on many other issues like minimum wage, environment, and pipelines, they are very different from the previous Conservative governments.
    Based on skills, accomplishments, direction and many other things, I will consider voting for giving for the first time in Canadian history a second term as Premier to a female. GASP.


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    Community Events

    june, 2018

    wed30may - 26sepmay 303:30 pmsep 26ATB Financial Downtown Market(may 30) 3:30 pm - (september 26) 6:30 pm

    sun10jun - 24jun 1010:00 amjun 242018 Edgar Farms Asparagus Festival10:00 am - 4:00 pm (24)

    sun17jun - 1juljun 1710:00 amjul 1- 4:00 pm2018 Edgar Farms Asparagus Festival10:00 am - (july 1) 4:00 pm

    tue19jun7:00 pm- 11:30 pmSebastian Bach w/ Guest The Standstills & Sweetgrass- June 19th7:00 pm - 11:30 pm

    tue19jun - 15juljun 198:00 pmjul 15Freewill Shakespeare Festival8:00 pm - (july 15) 10:30 pm

    wed20jun9:00 am- 11:00 amAlliance MeetingsTopic: Red Deer’s Community Safety Strategy9:00 am - 11:00 am

    wed20jun5:45 pm- 8:00 pmRed Deer County Eco-Buffer and Shelterbelt Workshop5:45 pm - 8:00 pm

    thu21jun - 3juljun 216:30 pmjul 3THE WORKS ART & DESIGN FESTIVAL6:30 pm - (july 3) 12:00 am

    fri22jun - 1juljun 227:30 pmjul 1- 9:15 pmEdmonton International Jazz Festival7:30 pm - (july 1) 9:15 pm

    fri22jun - 23jun 229:00 pmjun 23A Weekend With St. James Gate I Bo's Bar & Stage9:00 pm - 1:00 am (23)

    sat23junAll DayRed Deer Highland Games(All Day: saturday)

    sat23jun4:00 pm- 8:00 pmOlds Beer Festival4:00 pm - 8:00 pm

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    tue26jun5:00 pm- 6:30 pmUnited Way Central Alberta Annual General Meeting5:00 pm - 6:30 pm

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