Red Deer has recently received an award from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) for the bike lane pilot project. It is important to note that one of Red Deer City councils most vocal supporter of the bike lanes, was a member of the FCM board from 2011 to 2012. The award was given by a group of people who don’t have to drive in Red Deer and apparently have never visited our City in the winter.
What worries me is this award will serve as a green light for council to continue to spend our tax dollars on pet projects like this that the majority of citizens believe we don’t want or need. City council moved forward on this program with approximately 250 online responses from the citizens of Red Deer, most of which were from the local bike club. After council voted to take away driving lanes and spend $800,000 on bike lanes (which have proven largely unused, especially during the six to seven months of winter), I set up an online petition asking them, in essence, to rethink the program. In 10 days the petition received approximately 3,000 names and comments, and this with mostly word of mouth promotion.
Most residents of our City are not aware that our City will be $258 million in long-term debt at the end of this year and plan to spend over $1.3 billion in the next 10 years. Also important to note, there is no rainy day/contingency fund left and taxes get raised above inflation and population growth every year.
The other thing that worries me is council voted down a motion to let the citizens of Red Deer vote on how we want to be governed during the next election. Holding a plebiscite on a major issue during an election is an inexpensive method of getting feedback from the citizens, and yet council is afraid of letting the people decide.
The good thing that comes out of the whole bike lane issue is that citizens are now aware of how City council has spent and wasted our tax dollars over the last number of years. They are now realizing it is time for a more fiscally responsible council. I hope the citizens are still concerned enough in October to do some research and find this type of new candidate, get out and vote, and bring common sense back to the governing of our City.