Council Chambers were packed at City Hall Monday night as former municipal employees, former councillors and one former mayor gathered at a historic meeting to mark Red Deer’s centennial.
One hundred years ago on March 25th, Red Deer was incorporated as a City. A number of events are running throughout the year to celebrate the milestone.
On Monday night numerous presentations were given including one from local archivist Michael Dawe regarding ‘100 years of community history’ and Pat Matheson, the City’s public art coordinator, on ‘Ghosts of the past’ – an overview of the bronze statues in the City.
Sheila Bannerman, chair of the Red Deer Centennial steering committee also talked about the events that are to come in celebration of the 100th anniversary, while City Manager Craig Curtis gave a presentation regarding the City’s centennial projects and Mayor Morris Flewwelling talked about ‘A future for the past’.
Former Mayor Gail Surkan also spoke about her time in Red Deer as well as serving as the City’s mayor for 12 years (1992 to 2004).
“It was pointed out to me that as this is a 100 year celebration that I have been in the mayor’s chair for more than 10 per cent of the City’s history. That was a little awakening for me,” said Surkan.
Seventeen former councillors were also on hand to help mark the momentous occasion.
Bill Scott served on City council from 1962 to 1965 and was on the committee of the 50th anniversary celebrations as well. His son, Greg Scott, is the City’s director of community services.
“I served for three years and lost my seat because I ran for mayor,” he said. “The City has progressed and has done well. I think council has done great. We need to keep our mind on agriculture and a few other things with the environment and economics. As long as we keep our dollar in front of everything else we’ll be ok I think.”
Flewwelling spoke about where the City will go in the next 50 or so years.
“About five years ago this council set about looking forward and what Red Deer would be like in 45 or 50 years. After much community consultation we came up with a report called ‘Future Directions: Red Deer at 300,000’. People want the values of the past to carry on in the future,” said Flewwelling. “People want to make sure we have green space and open space. They value the setting with the two creeks and the river and the natural state.
“Red Deer has always been an agricultural area. The challenge for us is to make sure we design for livability and that we reduce the amount of space that we occupy. For the future Red Deer will be increasing its density. It will be going up, not out and we will occupy only a third of the space for the doubling and tripling of our population that you would expect us to do based on what we’ve used in the past 100 years.”
He added environmental protection is also a key value.
“We have invested millions into making sure our water and our wastewater treatment is second to none and we are gauged into treating the water and sewage of all of Central Alberta,” said Flewwelling. “We have discovered that land-filling is not the way of the future. We need to be able to convert waste to energy, waste to heat, waste to fuel. I can tell you the future of this community will not be with landfills.”
Flewwelling said another value in Red Deer is affordability and fiscal responsibility.
“The future will be keeping the fiscal house in order, fees and taxes affordable and making sure there is affordable housing,” he said. “As we enjoy one of the highest standards of living, with one of the highest household incomes with $105,000 per household in Red Deer right now, that doesn’t apply to everybody. There are 15 per cent of people in our community who live in poverty. We need to make sure there is affordable housing in the community. We have led the way in Canada in the last decade in building affordable housing and leading Canada in looking after the homeless.”
In addition, Curtis outlined the centennial projects the City approved for this year.
“We have two capital projects that are new capital projects that were the result of asking the community what they wanted. One of the projects is the spray park which will be located in a portion of Rotary Recreation Park. This will open officially on Aug. 6th. And then there is the new skate park which is being built in Normandeau next to the Normandeau School and will be a state-of-the-art facility,” said Curtis.
Other projects the City has contributed to as ‘centennial’ projects include the curling centre renovation, the expansion at the Centrium, among others.
For more on the City’s centennial, including upcoming events, check out www.reddeer2013.ca.