With 2012 behind him, Mayor Morris Flewwelling reflects on the last year and looks forward to 2013.
He is calling 2013 a year of celebration as the City hits a milestone – its centennial birthday.
“That’s a big look-forward and includes projects like the skateboard park and spray park, the museum exhibit, the 1,000 new seats in the Centrium, the curling rink renovations, the new book on Red Deer’s history and more,” said Flewwelling. “That was work done in 2012 that will bear fruit this year. And the centennial was something I wanted to stay on for as mayor because I’m particularly interested in that.”
He added he is especially looking forward to a centennial event that will “Culminate in the River of Light and I have no idea what that will be. It’s the centerpiece community event for the City in the middle of the summer, on the river with lights and it will be all along the river. I think this will be the memorable piece.
“Going forward into this year we’re not going to rip up the streets because we did all of that last year. This is a year of celebration. We have as little bridge repair and street repair as possible – consciously. You don’t want people coming back to Red Deer to celebrate the centennial after they’ve been away for 30 years and find they can’t get around due to construction.”
Last year, council took some heat from the public on a number of items including bike lanes, the fluoridation of drinking water, the Francophone school location and the Native Friendship Centre project.
“One way you could look at it is that we got the public engaged. There is a challenge of engaging the public, but we had them all engaged this time. Part of that is social media – it played a huge role in getting the message out to the public and also in from the public,” said Flewwelling. “It’s interesting that we dealt with those issues in the middle year of the term. It would not have been helpful to have those four controversies in the final year before the election because then they would have spilled over and become election issues.”
Despite the challenges, council had many accomplishments in 2012 as well.
“One of the really interesting things is when council is at work there is the category of things that is highly visible like the re-opening of the Dawe Centre, the Gaetz Avenue revitalization. Then there are the ones that don’t show up at all like the IDP (Intermunicipal Development Plan). It’s an enduring one; it doesn’t have a sunset clause in it. That is historical for all of Alberta – there isn’t another one like it that is open-ended,” he said. “Then there are projects that are out of mind. Most people don’t know there is massive work being done on the wastewater treatment plant – it’s huge work. Most people don’t realize how much work has been done on the north highway connector — it’s a virtual road now, except for the bridge.
“A portion of what we do is ‘invisible’ and that’s an important part of our work.”
Another accomplishment in 2012 was the re-design of the 32 St. and 40 Ave. intersection, said Flewwelling. “That was a huge project last year and it was a project that was delayed for three years and people were anxious to see it and so now it’s done and they’ve done a beautiful job.”
Meanwhile, Flewwelling said council will face some challenges this year but they are really winding down before the municipal election this October.
“2013 will be a year of wrap-up on some things. This council has kind of done its thing, unless something unforeseen comes up, you don’t really start something before an election. You kind of calm things down. We’re in that calming period.”
He added the election will be a big part of 2013 because he is stepping down as the City’s mayor. “Whenever you’ve got a serious vote for mayor you have a fair bit of excitement with the election.”
Heading into his last year as mayor as he is set to retire Flewwelling said he feels happy with what he has accomplished in his career.
“Everything I do is my last. I laid the last wreath for Nov. 11th and we had the last staff Christmas party at our house, it’s my last Christmas as mayor,” he said. “Each time I do something that’s traditional, it’s the last.
“I am personally looking forward to not carrying the load. This load is very heavy and when I say that I don’t mean to whine, it is a huge commitment for my wife and for me and it means that our life is fettered and circumscribed.
“Just always knowing the phone call could come to say that there was an ammonia spill, there’s a flood coming or a power outage. You’re never not the mayor.”