Reader responds to recent council decisions

  • Jan. 8, 2014 5:26 p.m.

I read with interest, two recent articles in the Red Deer Express.

The first reported the defeat of the proposed $90 million aquatic centre into the 2014 Red Deer City budget. Well done council! Your better judgment is to be applauded.

For a reason, this proposed aquatic centre didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me.

A recent census reported the average earning income of Red Deerians to be under $15 per hour which begs the question to be asked – who was actually going to be on the hook for the increased $290 million debt?

Simply answered, it would have been on the backs of low income wage earners and without a doubt increasingly higher taxed property and business owners. A facility used by the rich but paid for by the poor. Meeting the needs of your cost of living basics is difficult enough for low-income wage earners (the poor); so then, the only people able to afford using the facility would be those with higher expendable pleasure income (the rich).

No matter how proponents dress it up, the average citizen would not see a personal financial gain even if the Winter Games were awarded. History shows that financial gain goes to those already well positioned in the business community. This present four-year term council could be well advised to defeat any new motions for increases to City debt.

Current debt is already unsustainable regardless of however Mayor Veer gloats with satisfaction during the AUMA convention about Red Deer sustainability initiatives – the current debt is not one of them: $290 million in the hole for a city of 100,000 people would not be sustainable. Local governments should aspire to maintain low serviceable debt, without need to overtax business and the working class.

A more apt, true example of sustainability is the second letter by Lorne Keeping regarding the Kerry Meadows subdivision. Having recently moved to Red Deer from Mountain View County, I am well versed in the politics of urban encroachment into rural lands with the ensuing fragmentation of landscapes and disruption to ecosystem function.

Urbanization and intensification of population leads those living within urban communities to be more focused on social programs or pseudo-environmentalism like non-herbicide use. Genuine land conservation concern stems from educated recognition of threats to disruption of ecosystem function. This relates to how folks like aquatic centre proponents think. To them, increased debt is to be repaid by intensifying activity of urbanization through growth and consumption of adjoining rural land or annexation.

The thought process is antagonistic to the very cause of those like the Village of Delburne area concerned citizens who wisely oppose rural land subdivision for rural urbanization. Subdivision of rural land means land fragmentation. Future subdivision becomes easier because allowances become precedent. Rural landforms are essentially ‘classrooms without walls’. Economic benefit to urban areas from intact functioning ecosystems is well documented. Informed rural residents; as opposed to social program urbanites, note the value of intact functioning ecosystems because they live in this classroom.

They’ve learned to care for the land they love. The value is the land itself. It is not what fragmented land gives from taxation through development for social programs or pleasure needs of a growing urban population. Hence, the rationale comes full circle. A city or a county living within their means are not reliant on future changes to rural land designations for subdivision leading to ecosystem dysfunction through fragmentation. The Delburne group has got it right! Their efforts are to be applauded. Red Deer City and Red Deer County councillors – the electorate is reading.

Will Davies

Red Deer