City Manager Craig Curtis said as Red Deer is seeing more of a diverse community, more planning needs to be done to make the area immigrant friendly.
“I think the issue is that we are obviously going to be an aging community over the next 15 or 20 years and the situation is, communities across Canada that aren’t immigrant friendly will not grow,” said Curtis.
“I think it’s important to recognize that we’ve made a lot of progress towards diversity. We’ve got a significant portion of our population that are relatively new immigrants and we have to look at strategies that continue to embrace that as part of our future.”
Curtis said in Red Deer there are a total of 57 languages that are spoken. Also, for 10% of the City’s residents, English is not their first language.
He added the aboriginals are the fastest growing population group in Red Deer.
“Things are changing,” said Curtis. “We need to have a cultural vision and we need to embrace diversity.”
The City of Red Deer currently has a number of initiatives in the area of diversity.
“We work closely with agencies like the Central Alberta Refugee Effort Committee and we also have a number of initiatives with the growing aboriginal population,” said Curtis.
“I think it is enough for now. This trend is going to be one that is going to be in the future but I think we’ll see a growing number of initiatives over the next five or 10 years.”
Meanwhile, Mayor Morris Flewwelling said he believes there are many things the City is currently doing to ensure all people in Red Deer feel like the community is their home.
“We have different aspects of diversity in our community,” he said. “Diversity could mean culture, religion, those with disabilities. We do a number of things in the community to make sure all of those people feel comfortable.”
He added the City has done much in the way of offering transportation for persons with disabilities and developing new commercial areas with those people in mind to ensure they have good access to them.
“We also just signed the Common Ground with the aboriginal community,” said Flewwelling.
“This is really groundbreaking and it will allow the aboriginal community to have one voice when it comes to municipal issues.”