While attending the annual Alberta Urban Municipalities Association (AUMA) conference this week, Mayor Tara Veer and members of City Council met with Members of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta to discuss topics important to Red Deerians.
“We held several meetings this week with ministers and RCMP K Division to raise items important to our community,” said Mayor Tara Veer. “Every opportunity to sit down with our provincial representatives is an opportunity to build relationships and increase understanding of the unique issues of Alberta’s third largest municipality.”
Meetings were held with the Ministers of Justice and Solicitor General, Municipal Affairs, Environment and Parks, Transportation, Health, Infrastructure, and the Deputy Commissioner for the RCMP K Division. Some of the items on the agendas included the need for additional prosecutors in Red Deer; staffing for 911 operations centre; cannabis legalization; vacant provincial properties such as the Michener site, Valley Park Manor, and Red Deer Nursing Home; the need for infrastructure at the Red Deer Regional Hospital and needle debris.
“At the top of our agenda was a brief meeting with K Division to discuss emerging concerns with increasing service demands on the 911 system and its potential impact to call timing,” said Mayor Veer. “911 calls and wait times for the Southern Alberta Operations Call Centre, which takes calls for Red Deer, are among the highest in the province. We shared how this is potentially affecting service to Red Deerians and discussed the need for additional staff for the operations centre.”
The Southern Alberta Operations Call Centre has not had an increase in staffing for 10 years resulting in a decrease in service over this same time period. The discussion ended with a commitment to a follow-up meeting in the coming weeks to further discuss strategies that ensure crime prevention and enforcement efforts are effective in responding to the safety challenges Red Deer is facing.
“We also discussed the need for additional prosecutors to deal with the backlog of criminal and civil cases in Red Deer. Given Red Deer’s crime challenges, charges should not be stayed because of delays in criminal court proceeding,” said Mayor Veer.
“On the need for expanded health services, we are highly concerned that a hospital that serves such a large area is not on the master planning radar for the Provincial Government,” said Mayor Veer. “The health needs of all Albertans, but, in this case, especially Central Albertans, should be a priority for the government.”
Expansion of the Red Deer Regional Hospital was identified as an infrastructure priority for the Provincial Government in 2015, however, it was absent in the 2017 Provincial budget. “Considering the population growth in the region, the regional service of the Red Deer Regional Hospital, and the proximity to the Queen Elizabeth Highway 2 (QE2) there is an increasing need for expanded hospital services in Central Alberta,” said Mayor Veer.
Mayor Veer closed the conference by inviting all members to the 2018 AUMA conference in Red Deer in September. “We look forward to hosting Alberta’s municipalities next year as the conference comes to Red Deer for the first time in decades. It is another chance to showcase Red Deer to the entire province and stimulate the local economy.”
Each of the meetings held this week will be followed up with a letter to the Ministers formally documenting the discussions and ensuring follow-up meetings are held on all of the items discussed.
“All in all, we were successful in making sure Red Deer’s issues were understood and heard. We look forward to provincial action on the issues raised,” said Veer.
The Alberta Urban Municipalities Association was founded in 1905 and represents Alberta’s urban municipalities including cities, towns, villages, summer villages, and specialized municipalities, as well as Associate and Affiliate members, representing more than 85 per cent of Albertans. Their goal is to develop a strong and engaged partnership between all three levels of government.
For more information, please contact:
Mayor Tara Veer
The City of Red Deer
Communications & Strategic Planning
The City of Red Deer