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Opinion

Red Deer’s A-List talks swimming but the city talks Pickleball

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  • Alberta is forecasting to lead the country in economic growth again next year. Red Deer is expecting thus preparing for more declines in economic growth.
    Alberta is expecting population growth of almost 4% next year while Red Deer talks of declining population. Blackfalds leads the country in population growth again and is also, again expanding their recreational facilities. Lethbridge with a population growth making it one of the fastest growing cities in the country is also investing in more recreational facilities.
    Red Deer’s A-list came out and interesting enough the number one activity mentioned was swimming and the city is talking about delaying building the Aquatic Centre for another 4 years for finishing in 2025. The A-list also says the favourite location is the Collicutt Centre, located in the south-east corner of the city, the city wants to just replace the downtown pool with it’s inherent traffic and parking problems which would only be multiplied with hoped for population growth.
    Red Deer A-list stresses swimming, the city should be facilitating an accelerated expansion of swimming pools but they are delaying the construction of another pool for another 30 years. Fear not remember the city is spending a million on pickle ball courts.
    The city hopes to attract 25,000 new residents north of Hwy 11a in the north-west corner of the city. No plans for a swimming pool, they can travel downtown exasperating traffic and parking issues or travel to the Collicutt Centre in the south-east corner of the city which is the preferred choice of the 60% of the city’s recreational population.
    Why not, as there will not be any high schools north of the river, anyways, with 5 high schools built and planned for east of 30th Avenue, just beside or down the road from the Collicutt Centre.

    2023 will be a pivotal year in Red Deer. Red Deer will be reduced to having only 3 pools.
    Collicutt Centre will be celebrating it’s 22 anniversary just as the shovels hit the dirt on a proposed replacement Multi-plex Aquatic Centre.
    2001 the Collicutt opened it’s doors for the first time. Red Deer’s population was a hefty 68,308 residents.
    1991 Mayor McGhee and council decided it was prudent for Red Deer to have a fourth recreational complex. The population was 58,252 residents and a recreational centre for every 15,000 was the established goal.
    2001 Red Deer’s fourth recreational centre opened to a population ratio of a recreational centre for every 17,077 residents. Already behind the target.
    There was, as recently as last year that the ratio of 1 indoor ice rink per 15,000 was established as determined for recreational complexes. With that in mind we should have built a new recreational complex with a swimming pool, in 2004 when the population was at 75,923. Giving us 5 recreation centres or 1 for every 15,000 residents as was deemed appropriate. Then again in 2010 when our population was 90,084 we should have built the 6th recreational complex.
    If we followed this reasoning we should be planning on opening our 7th recreational complex because our population is 99,832 according to our last municipal census and if we were to grow at 1.2% annually we should hit 120,000 in 2021.
    That did not and will not happen. The best we can hope for is a replacement Aquatic Centre to open in 2025.
    The ideal goal is one for every 15,000 residents but if we build a 5th recreational complex with an indoor pool then we would have to settle for 1 for every 24,000 residents, which is better than just replacing a pool, as currently planned.
    A fifth recreational complex north of hwy 11a would service the residents, expand tourism and kick start development north of 11a.
    The current thinking is the city will tear down the downtown recreation centre and build the aquatic centre there. Leaving us with only 4 or 1 recreational complex for every 30,000 residents.
    Instead of 7 we would be left with 4 for another 25 years.
    What do we do? Councillor Tanya Handley has declared that she cannot support building the aquatic centre downtown with poor parking but would support building it as Councillor Frank Wong has been advocating, north of 11a near Hazlett Lake to kick start development. Newcomer Councillor Michael Dawe would consider moving the aquatic centre as would another.
    That gives us 4 councillors but with 8 councillors and the mayor voting on the issue in a year, we need the commitment of 5 to ensure a new pool and not just a replacement.
    I am asking all councillors and the mayor to commit to building a new aquatic centre north of 11a. Why now?
    The city is a bureaucracy that tends to move slowly and in precise steps. It is always too early then it’s too late. We need commitment now so the city can make the necessary adjustments when necessary. Please commit.
    I was on the citizen committee that made the recommendations cited by the city. Those recommendations was made on the premise of (1)an immediate build when (2) no land was available for a new aquatic centre. There is now a delayed construction start and there is lots of land available for a new build.
    So while the province and neighbouring communities are investing in recreational facilities and reaping the rewards of economic and population growth why is Red Deer taking the reverse route?
    I guess I will learn to play pickle ball.


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    Opinion

    3 wards for the city based on federal and provincial governance models.

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  • An interesting proposal has been suggested for our municipal governance that is modeled after the provincial and federal electoral system.
    Federally we have Members of Parliament (MPs) and one of them is also the Prime Minister. Provincially we have Members of the Legislature (MLAs) and one of them is also the Premier.
    Federally our fine city is divided into 2 electoral districts or ridings both federally and provincially, so we have 2 MLAs and 2 MPs, and anyone could also be our Premier or Prime Minister, or Speaker, Cabinet Member, or Opposition Leader.
    Back to our city’s governance, we elect 9 people currently, 8 councillors and 1 mayor for 1 electoral district. The idea being suggested is 3 wards, 3 councillors each with 1 also being the mayor.
    Population wise and geographically 3 wards would be fairly easy. Using the last municipal census. Approximately 1/3 the population lives east of 30th Avenue so that would make an easy boundary and approximately 1/3 live north of the river, another easy boundary. The other 1/3 would be south of the river and west of 30th Avenue. Easy and already done.
    Now, why would we consider 3 wards over governance of a single entity?
    Look at thhe history of the wards, the services offered, crime rates, return on investments and you can see the reason.
    The east of 30th Avenue ward has, 3 high schools with plans for 2 more, has the Collicutt centre with a recommended site for the next multi-use aquatic centre, 2 emergency services location, and a pickle ball court centre.
    The north of the river ward has no high schools with no plans for any, the Dawe recreation centre, YMCA, and 1 emergency services centre.
    The other ward has 1 high school, 1 college, downtown recreation centre, museum, tennis courts, Michener pool, Westerner, Kinex arenas, curling rinks, a proposed cultural centre, hospital, multiple emergency services to name but a few.
    So it is easy to see the rationale behind and the appeal for a ward system as our city grows in a manner favourable to some and not to others. 3 wards with 3 councillors each and 1 of the 9 would also act as mayor. It works provincially and federally and it would make councillors responsible and accountable for any continued disparities, right?
    It is an option. Just saying.


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    Opinion

    Will Red Deer finally get a seat at the adult table? Do we want a seat at the adult table?

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  • Opinion by Garfield Marks

    “Red Deer needs a Cabinet Minister“, says the Chamber of Commerce. Yes the fact is we need a seat at the table, but do we have a politician worthy enough to sit at the adult table?

    Yes, I believe we do, at least 2. For far too long, Red Deer has been electing invisible politicians, seat warmers, trained seals, caricatures of what we think we want as politicians. People representing in some shallow way what the population wanted, perhaps we want invisible politicians. But that is not what we need.

    The subject came up due to the recent Provincial election but it is the same in all 3 levels of government. Federally, too like Provincially there is a cabinet table that makes the decisions and sets directions and implementation but there is a somewhat cabinet like table municipally, involving a few people including city manager, mayor, downtown reps, developers and others, that kind of set the game plan, at least in my opinion.

    This came up over coffee one day, started when someone asked who decided to spend almost a million dollars of our taxes on a piece of art off 32 Street saying “Welcome to Red Deer”?

    The hypothesis is that there is an inner circle or small group, not city council, that decides what, where and when to do anything in this city. Which subdivisions to build as we seem to be opening up new subdivisions every year while we have trouble filling the ones already on the market, means there must be at least one developer at this table.

    The question remains then about whether the citizens of Red Deer want a seat at the adult table? Do we accept just paying the bills as our only role?
    We spend millions and millions of dollars every year on politicians, for what? Photo ops, ribbon cuttings, welcome speeches and to vote as they are told by the members at the adult tables.

    Will we get a Cabinet Member from Red Deer? I think we might but just 1 at the Provincial Cabinet level, because the table is small and Red Deer is not seen as a major player needing to be heard. As for federal and municipal tables that is not even on the horizon. Just saying.

    The views in the above story are the opinion of the writer’s. 


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