The Canadian Home Builders’ Association – Central Alberta, the Central Alberta Realtors Association and the Red Deer Construction Association held a municipal election forum in order to see where candidates stand on development in Red Deer.
The forum was split into two sections, with the first section consisting of nine prepared questions from the associations, which mostly regarded home building and the second section consisting of questions from the audience, which were more general.
Incumbent Candidate Frank Wong began the evening by saying that council can forge relationships with homebuilders both formally and informally.
“It is good when conversation is shared both ways,” he said.
Answering the question of what would you advocate for, Candidate Rob Friss said building a world-class hotel and casino resort would drive cash flow into the downtown core.
On the issue of development permits being provided by the City, Candidate Matt Slubik said he was in favour of streamlining the process.
“It isn’t the seller’s burden to go through a cumbersome process,” he said.
Candidate Calvin Goulet-Jones, who describes himself as fiscally conservative, said the the new Municipal Government Act will bloat house prices to the tune of thousands of dollars.
“I do not believe this will help the community,” he said
Candidate Jordy Smith said, although busses to Gasoline Alley are not subsidized with City dollars, he would be in favour of it if they were, especially if it helps bring people to work.
“If providing a higher quality of life for our citizens means providing access to something outside the City, we should be in support of it,” he said.
In order to improve business in the downtown, Candidate Ian Miller said it is important to improve walkability as well as building apartments and high-density living in the core. He added providing adequate parking is also important.
With regards to affordable housing, Candidate Rick More said it is important to improve the economy so that people have jobs. He said temporary housing is a Band-Aid solution, whereas employment would return dignity to those struggling to find work.
As far as improving the economy goes, Candidate Jonathan Wieler said it is important for council to work with business in order to help clear red tape and help discover what they need to be successful.
When asked if taxpayer dollars should be involved with development, Candidate Doug Manderville said it is important that the City helps develop recreational facilities, traffic lights, sidewalks, libraries and other essential infrastructure.
The first question from the audience was regarding the impending federal cannabis legislation which will take effect next year.
Incumbent Candidate Tanya Handley said the legislation was put forward too fast, which puts the onus on municipalities. She added, considering this, most of the revenue generated from cannabis sales needs to pushed back into the municipality.
In regards to the implementation of future bike lanes, incumbent Candidate Dianne Wyntjes said public engagement is crucial and that people need to not label people solely as drivers, pedestrians or cyclists, as anyone could be all of these things.
Regarding the importance of culture in society, Candidate Jeremy Moore said it is important to strike a proper balance when investment.
In regards to infills in historic neighborhoods, incumbent Candidate Buck Buchanan said neighbourhoods tend to regenerate and rejuvenate themselves and don’t need to much input from government.
In regards to the City working with homebuilders for mutual benefit, Incumbent Mayor Tara Veer said it is important the City and council remains in consultation with homebuilders in order for the City to progress.
Other council candidates running in the election include Jason Habuza, Matt Chapin Jim Kristinson, Michael Dawe, Cory Kingsfield, Vesna Higham, Sam Bergeron, Brice Unland, Kris Maciborsky, Ted Johnson, Ken Johnston, Bobbi McCoy, Valdene Callin, Lawrence Lee, Bayo Nshombo Bayongwa and Lynne Mulder. The other mayoral candidate is Sean Burke.