The Students’ Association of Red Deer College (RDC) held a Mayoral Forum to discuss the issues facing Red Deer.
Incumbent Mayoral Candidate Tara Veer and Mayoral-hopeful Sean Burke took questions from the students of Red Deer College and the greater community in order to provide the community greater clarity on their respective visions for Red Deer.
Topic included RDC becoming a polytechnic university—which both candidates felt is very important; the ongoing crime issue throughout the City—which both candidates said needs to be addressed; the need for more recreational facilities and programming—which both candidates felt was important and the rising opioid crisis—which both candidates were concerned over.
Veer, during the discussion, addressed the issue of the City losing business and development to Gasoline Alley—which resides in Red Deer County.
She said the current annexation agreement, which is through the Intermunicipal Government Plan, allows the City to easily annex lands to the north, east and west.
Gasoline Alley is excluded from this plan and remains a County development.
“The County, under provincial statute, has the right to develop in that area,” Veer said.
“That is causing us social and fiscal challenges as a City. Red Deer will need to become more aggressive in the coming years in order to provide incentive and attract development within the City of Red Deer borders—in response to systemic differentials throughout the province.”
Veer said difficulties between municipalities are something that can be possibly addressed through the new Provincial Municipal Government Act (MGA). She said agreements between neighboring municipalities need to be developed—including for social services.
“Right now, part of the challenge is many of the social services around Central Alberta are concentrated in Red Deer,” she said.
“Hopefully with the amendments in the Municipal Government Act, we will be able to have the tools we need to address those.”
Burke said that Red Deer is facing difficult social issues that need to be addressed.
“We have a lot of problems facing our community and our children are our future,” he said.
“I want to be part of these conversations because as a concerned citizen, I can take that out to the people and help them understand what’s going on.
“No one understands what is going on. We live in a social media age and no one is getting the correct information.”
Burke expanded on the issue of safety, saying that Veer failed to address her promises from the 2013 election.
“Citizen safety and community image were really important and stood out in the 2013 election and at the forum here at the college,” he said.
“As we reflect, I can look back and say there has been no citizen safety—we have been turned into victims and we aren’t getting the right answers.
“It is important we put somebody in the position to open the doors to ensure the person who is mayor represents the people.”
Burke added it is important that the the mayor and council represent the people of Red Deer and small business, rather than, “corporate Red Deer.
“We have a lot of regular everyday citizens as candidates this year,” he said.
“They haven’t had an agenda over the last four years and are actually here for the people.”
Veer said it is important for candidates to attend forums and listen to Red Deerians.
“Forums are a really important way for citizens to connect with candidates,” she said.
“Anyone who attends a forum certainly has an opportunity to delve more into the issues. Different forums have different themes and you often hear a different cross-section of the community and we heard that today from the students of Red Deer College.”
Burke said it is important to connect with citizens personally—rather than through election advertising.
“I have never been for campaign advertising, so it is important to me shake everyone’s hand and meet every small business owner so I can hear why you vote,” he said.
“That is why I have done this campaign and if it gets me elected, I will be very grateful to the citizens.”
Veer said people of Red Deer should get out in vote.
“First and foremost—whoever is elected needs a mandate from the citizens,” she said.