Mayor Tara Veer talks about City’s ‘hot button’ issues

  • Nov. 20, 2013 4:41 p.m.

In the next four years there is much Mayor Tara Veer hopes to accomplish for the betterment of the community.

A number of ‘hot button’ issues were heard during the election campaign and Veer recently talked about how some of those would be tackled.

Something Veer said she felt passionate about during the campaign was elevating the City’s profile on the provincial landscape.

“In the absence of Red Deer saying who we are and selling ourselves, our fellow Albertans will fill in their own definition of who they think Red Deerians are, so we need to be our biggest voice and advocate in telling them who we are.”

She added that that manifests itself in issues such as ambulance dispatch.

“It is a great example of how critical that issue is to Red Deer’s integrated fire and ambulance operations. It’s actually a provincial issue that has the potential to detrimentally impact our citizens, so we’ve been strong and resolute in our opinion about that and I’m very proud of our council for that.”

Veer added the future of Michener Centre will also be an issue that council will address as well.

“It’s an issue that we have heard a lot of concern about in our community, particularly on the residential side but also on the recreational side,” she said. “What I’m hoping this council will do is stay true to the public position that our previous council had taken which is our strong preference the provincial government would keep Michener open, but we recognize that it falls completely within their decision-making authority.

“If they don’t shift their decision on that, then we need to strongly advocate for a safe and fair transition plan for the residents there.”

As for the City’s debt, Veer said it’s an issue council will discuss as well.

“There was a lot of public conversation around debt in the campaign and I think council will have to have a philosophical discussion on debt specifically,” she said.

“But on the financial sustainability of the organization and community in general, I think is very worthwhile and necessary. I do think there is room for new and revised policy around reserve contributions and long-term savings as well as a refinement of the existing debt policy,” she said.

“The challenge that we are faced with at this point is the capital budget is within a few weeks. The capital budget that the 2013 council will debate in late November is ultimately a reflection of policy direction from the previous council so that will likely invite some interesting debate.”

In addition, when the bike lane pilot project was approved by the previous council, Veer was only one of two councillors who voted against the project.

“Speaking for myself, throughout the campaign my strong sense on the public was that there still is substantial anger and frustration over the bike lanes debate,” she said. “Where I have landed as mayor is what I think council needs to do is lay down a pro-bike lane, anti-bike lane ideology and positioning that we all brought to the table and actually just review the pilot in a very specific road by road, section by section basis and be honest with what is working and what is not.

“I think we need to weigh that in terms of safety for both the cyclists and motorists,” she said.

“My hope is that we will land on a decision that all members of the community would feel heard in terms of their opinion and that we would be able to move forward and move past this issue.”

Looking ahead Veer said there will be additional work done around policing service levels, burying the power lines in the Riverlands area so that development can begin to take place in that area, among others.

She added she is excited for the next four years and believes the City has elected a strong council.

efawcett@reddeerexpress.com

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