City Councillor Tanya Handley hopes to continue the work she has already done on council as she announces she will seek re-election this fall.
“I have thoroughly enjoyed my last four years. It’s hard to believe that it has been just about four years,” she said. “It has been a huge learning curve and I have met lots of people and have really seen the good in Red Deer and I would like to continue the work.”
Handley said she has enjoyed many things about her position, but one of the most enjoyable aspects has been getting to know the people in Red Deer.
“Attending community events and seeing the capacity that we have for good in the City – the volunteer spirit, the charitable giving blows me away. It never ceases to amaze me – the generosity in Red Deer and how people rally for their neighbours as evidenced this past week even more than ever,” she said.
“It makes you proud to be from Red Deer seeing all the good in the community.”
Handley added there have been some challenges that council has worked through over the last three and a half years.
“One challenge that we worked on was the courthouse advocacy and that came to a positive conclusion recently with the provincial government announcing we would get a new courthouse.
“That is a very important thing to have in our community for victims to get justice. It has been delayed for a long time and that was a big win,” she said. “Another very exciting thing that was a challenge at first, but became an opportunity, was retaining ambulance dispatch in Red Deer. That was also a big win for the community.”
One challenge council continues to tackle is the City’s snow and ice removal policy, Handley added.
“We’ve seen some big improvements but we have a long way to go with that to get it right for the community. That is something we continue to grapple with. We review and tweak it as needed from feedback from the community.”
During the last election, Handley’s platform was heavily based on fiscal responsibility and transparency.
“I try to bring to council a fairly fiscally conservative viewpoint and I think I’ve carried that through these past three and a half years,” she said.
“I brought forward a Notice of Motion to see our allowable debt limit – the amount of debt the province allows the City to go into reduced. Previously we were at 90 per cent of the allowable debt limit and I brought forward a motion that was supported by council to reduce that to 75 per cent. All of our capital plans and our planning in the future have to come in at under that 75 per cent debt cap.”
She added she would like to see the City run as it did this past budget.
“We worked very, very hard to get that tax increase low. It was a lot of belt tightening and response to the economic conditions that the City was facing,” said Handley.
“But what that proved is that we can do it, because in the past we have seen much higher tax increases. I would like to see us continue to manage our finances the way that we have this past year, but still allowing the City to move forward. I think that is what we did in that last budget.
“I would like to see us do our core services very, very well and continue to work as we have on roads and road conditions – I think we have made huge strides the last council on roads. Another big one in our community is policing and crime – that is a focus I would like to see for the next council.”
Looking ahead, if Handley is re-elected, she said she will continue the advocacy work that has begun for the hospital expansion.
“While that is a provincial mandate or a provincial responsibility, I would absolutely add my voice to what we have heard from the community that we need expanded services for Central Alberta. We draw in over 300,000 people from the Central Alberta region that the hospital serves and I am hoping to add my voice to that advocacy effort to the province to bring it to light,” she said.
“Another initiative I would like to see us move forward on in the next four years is affordable housing. It has definitely been an issue in our community for our seniors and for our vulnerable citizens and for those without a home. Again, advocacy to the provincial government and other governments to see more affordable housing in the community and see supports wrapped around these people that are potentially falling through the cracks.”