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Opinion

Why is Edgar Industrial Zone empty?

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  • As I campaign for the UCP nomination for Red Deer North I continually ask voters to share their priorities and concerns. By far the most frequently heard concerns are those of the economy, the quality of jobs available, and the cost of living.

    Since assuming power in 2015 the NDP government has enacted a series of changes that have made the cost of living and doing business in our province far more expensive. Not only that, these changes exacerbated the effects of the worst recession in a generation. A quick drive through Edgar Industrial Zone is evident of the costly and uncompetitive policies our government has legislated.

    So let’s go through a quick rundown of some of the more devastating changes:

    Increased corporate tax rates by 20%
    Instituted the carbon tax increasing the cost of doing pretty much everything
    Changes to the Municipal Government Act have increased the cost of new homes by thousands
    Early shutdown of coal power plants increased the cost of electricity and cost taxpayers billions

    It is no secret that much of Alberta’s prosperity is due to our resource sector. This is especially true for Red Deer with our disproportionate presence in the oil & gas service sector and equipment manufacturing. Unquestionably weakness in the sector was due in part to an oversupply of oil coupled with low prices. However, as oil prices rebounded drilling and the service activity that goes along with it have moved to other lower cost jurisdictions.

    As the NDP raised the cost of doing business, activity has fled Canada while states like North Dakota, Pennsylvania, and Texas have seen record growth. Through my work at the Chamber it is a regular occurance to hear from local businesses that are struggling to get business and others that are moving asset abroad

    So thanks to a higher cost of doing business Alberta still has lower private sector employment than we did in 2014, less capital investment, and higher crime.

    If successful, one of my primary focuses as MLA will be taking action to restore our competitiveness and bring businesses and the high-paying jobs that go along with them back to areas like Edgar Industrial Zone.

    Reg Warkentin is running for the UCP nomination in his forever-home of Red Deer North and Policy and Advocacy Manager of the Red Deer & District Chamber of Commerce


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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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