City Council approved a $121 million capital budget this evening after two days of deliberation. The capital budget includes projects that will take place in 2019, or projects that require additional funding from previous years.
Debate on a future aquatics centre for Red Deer ended with a resolution to further consider scope and location and with a commitment to move detailed design costs forward from 2023 to 2019. The placeholder for construction remains as recommended in the plan.
“This decision made tonight is the next logical step for the future of the aquatic centre. It allows us flexibility but holds true to the fiscal reality of this budget,” said Mayor Veer. “We need to balance competing community expectations while navigating significant reductions in provincial government infrastructure funding. This City is genuine in wanting to move the community forward, but need to manage expectations about the timeline for major projects given financial realities.”
City Council also approved $2.6 million to plan an expansion and enhancement of the G.H. Dawe Community Centre. The project, including a twinned and expanded arena and new spray park, would cost $32 million in construction costs with preliminary dates scheduled for 2021 and 2022. A $15 million federal grant has already been applied for to help support these costs.
The 2019 Capital Budget focuses on sustainability for our community and preparing for future growth opportunities. Some of the items passed during Council deliberation include crown paving, infrastructure upgrades in Riverside Meadows and water and wastewater infrastructure including a phosphorus recovery facility.
Some components of the Northland Drive project, connecting along Highway 11A were approved as a part of a long term plan to connect along the river to 30 Avenue. The improvements along Highway 11A will also provide access to development in the north.
“We are focusing our investments towards projects and infrastructure that ensure our sustainability while ensuring we are still being proactive in planning for growth,” said Veer. “We recognize the importance of keeping tax rates as low as possible for our citizens while the economy continues to move through a state of recovery, and also ensuring we have the infrastructure in place to meet growth and support economic development that positions us for our community’s future.”
With the approval of today’s capital budget, the City’s estimated debt limit for 2019 sits at 56 per cent, which is below the 75 per cent debt limit set by Council.
“When we developed this budget for Council’s consideration, we focused on sustainability of our infrastructure and kept the current economic reality at top of mind,” said City Manager Craig Curtis, “The reality is the economy continues to recover more slowly than anticipated, and recognizing this, we recommended a capital budget that respects Council’s direction, vision for community amenities and budget guidelines surrounding debt limit and minimal tax increases.”
￼Along with the 2019 Capital Budget, Council approved the 2020-2028, $1.5 billion capital plan in principle allowing the flexibility for administration to adjust the priorities outlined in the plan based on community need and project funding.
“A project’s inclusion in the capital plan does not mean that it is necessarily going ahead, it simply means that the City is considering it, planning for it, and looking at financing options,” said Curtis. “We plan projects well into the future based on Council direction, community needs and funding.”
To see further details on the approved capital budget, visit www.reddeer.ca/budget
-Submitted by the City of Red Deer