By Sheldon Spackman
“Planning for Sustainability, People and Infrastructure”. That’s the theme of the 2017 Capital Budget and Ten Year Capital Plan for the City of Red Deer. The recommended budget and correlating plan were released on Wednesday, with City Council to review it in detail starting November 22nd.
Council will consider a proposed Capital Budget of nearly $107 million dollars for 2017, with the focus over the next few years being on preparing for the 2019 Canada Winter Games in Red Deer. Proposed major Capital projects for 2017 include water utility infrastructure replacement and rehabilitation and future growth planning of the North Red Deer Regional Water Services Commission Supply Line project, totaling nearly $15 million dollars. Roadway reconstruction, pavement rehabilitation, crown paving and future growth planning for Ross Street expansion from 20th avenue to 10th avenue, totaling nearly $15 million is also being considered, as are improvements to the Taylor Drive intersection. Some fleet replacement for Red Deer Transit to the tune of $3.4 million dollars is also being proposed.
Other proposed Capital projects for 2017 include the Riverwalk Phase 2 and Plaza for over $2 million dollars. It’s planning and visioning stage is nearing completion, so the project will now focus on marketing, land sales, economic development, construction of amenities and further site development. A new playground is also being proposed for Mattie McCullough elementary school next year. It’s a $500,000 price tag and would be funded by the Rotary Club.
Last year, Council approved in principal the 2017-2025 Capital Plan that projected an over $128 million dollar budget for 2017 but some projects have now been moved out of the Ten Year Capital Plan to realign with the current economic conditions in Red Deer. Those projects moved to the 11-20 year Capital Plan include more dry space for the Collicut Centre, (with that need to be partially accommodated by the field house in the new St. Joseph’s High School), a Performing Arts Centre and Concert Hall, another Collicut Centre, (with that need to be addressed by the new North Red Deer Community Centre which will see construction start next spring) and a new larger outdoor concert site. These moves bring the proposed 2017 Capital Budget down to the current $107 million dollar budget. City officials say this will still maintain the amenities and infrastructure Red Deer has in place, while dealing with reduced growth and development in the economy.
Red Deer’s Capital plan for 2018-2026 currently totals $1.27 billion dollars, with transportation and the 2019 Canada Winter Games being key drivers of that document. However, projects in that plan mean city council is simply considering it, planning for it and considering financing options for it.
Longer-term capital projects include trail upgrades to River Bend Recreation Area, the site of Cross Country Skiing and Biathlon events for the 2019 games, enhancements to Great Chief Park which will house a future long-track speed skating oval and turf on the new football field. Renovations to Canyon Ski Resort, the home of free-style skiing and snowboarding events for the 2019 games. Also the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre already under construction at RDC. Other highlights include a new Multi-Use Aquatic Centre which could see design begin in 2019 and construction start in 2021 and expansion of the ice surface at the GH Dawe Centre with a twin rink to be added and an outdoor spray park at the facility as well. Construction for those proposed projects would start in 2024.
Members of the public can now review the proposed 2017 Capital Budget and provide feedback to council before they consider it. The feedback submission deadline is November 16th. Check it out at:
(Photo courtesy of the City of Red Deer)
Ex-UK leader Truss to urge tougher China stance in Tokyo
By Sylvia Hui in London
LONDON (AP) — Former British Prime Minister Liz Truss will join the former leaders of Australia and Belgium at a conference in Tokyo later this month to call for a tougher international approach to China.
The Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China, an international group of lawmakers concerned about how democratic countries approach Beijing, said Friday that Truss will speak alongside former Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison at the Feb. 17 event in the Japanese Diet. Former Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt, who is also a European Parliament lawmaker, will attend as well.
Conference organizers hope the event would help spur more coordinated diplomacy on threats raised by China ahead of the next Group of Seven richest democratic countries’ summit, scheduled in May in Hiroshima.
Truss is expected to address growing concerns over Beijing’s threats to Taiwan, which China claims as its own territory. Morrison will call for more targeted sanctions against Chinese officials for serious human rights violations, while Verhofstadt will speak about the European Union’s role in maintaining international rules under pressure from Beijing.
“The scale of the challenge posed by the People’s Republic of China is such that we all need to rise above our differences and come together to defend our fundamental values and interests,” Verhofstadt said in a statement.
The three former leaders will address about 40 Japanese lawmakers as well as legislators from the U.K., Canada, the European Union and Taiwan. Senior Japanese ministers are also expected to attend.
Truss has kept out of the public eye since she quit as Conservative British prime minister in October after just 45 days in office, following an ill-conceived economic plan she unveiled that triggered a political and financial crisis.
As foreign secretary she was outspoken in criticizing China, advocating stronger ties between democracies so they can counter China and Russia more effectively. She had suggested that the U.K. should work with its allies to ensure Taiwan could defend itself against Chinese military aggression.
Her successor, current British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, has rejected “grand rhetoric” against China and wants a more “pragmatic” relationship with Beijing. While he has called China’s growing authoritarianism a “systemic challenge,” he stopped short of describing China as a threat to British security and said the U.K. and its allies needed to engage Beijing in diplomacy.
Western countries are rethinking their relationship with Beijing after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but the U.S., Britain and the EU’s 27 member states have disagreed with each other over how to approach an increasingly assertive China.
In November, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz was criticized by both his European partners and his own coalition government when he led a delegation of senior business leaders to visit Beijing.
Critics said the bilateral visit undermined unity among EU leaders, who discussed reducing their heavy economic dependence on China during a Brussels summit in October. While Scholz said there should be recognition that China was increasingly a competitor and systemic rival, he also warned against decoupling ties.
CP NewsAlert: Liberals withdraw controversial amendment to guns bill
OTTAWA — The federal Liberals are withdrawing a controversial amendment to their guns bill that would have added many popular hunting rifles and shotguns to a list of prohibited firearms in Canada.
The amendment has caused an outcry in many parts of rural Canada, and the Liberals have been under pressure from many of their own MPs to change or withdraw the new definition of weapons being banned.
The Canadian Press
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