Issues ranging from snow removal to the City’s debt load and making Red Deer more pedestrian friendly were raised at the Red Deer Chamber of Commerce election forum.
About 300 people filled a room in the Red Deer Lodge last Thursday for the event, which saw the City’s mayoral candidates and council candidates take the hot seat.
Candidates were given three minutes to introduce themselves and state their platforms, followed by a question and answer period, which took place for the remainder of the evening.
One citizen asked mayoral candidates Morris Flewwelling and Hilary Penko how the City can be more pedestrian friendly.
“I think widening our trails as they are frequently used would be something to look at,” said Flewwelling, who also added building sidewalks where there have been trails worn in the ground is also something the City should consider.
Penko said it’s the City’s drivers that need to be educated in order to make Red Deer more pedestrian friendly.
“I think launching a campaign to make drivers more aware that pedestrians are out there is an answer,” she said. “We also need to make our crosswalks safer and we need more signage.”
Roger Will, a Red Deer citizen and participant at the forum asked Flewwelling and Penko what they were willing to do about snow removal.
“I think we need to examine the policy and set aside money for the snow budget – when it’s in the snow budget it should stay in the snow budget and not go into the general revenue pool if it’s not used,” said Penko.
Flewwelling added he would be willing to open up the City’s snow policy and re-examine it.
One audience member asked the candidates how the City will balance the infrastructure that is needed and paying off debt at the same time.
“We have bylaws for borrowing that we have not used and we probably won’t have to use them,” said Councillor Cindy Jefferies. “In 1993, our debt level was higher per capita and interest rates at that time were about 11 per cent – they are currently about four per cent.
“Many municipalities have asked the province to allow them to raise their debt level but Red Deer has not and we have no intention to.”
The Molly Bannister Dr. debate also surfaced at the forum with an audience member asking if candidates supported the extension to 22 St.
“I think we need more research on it,” said Councillor Lynne Mulder. “I don’t think it’s something we’ll be doing in the next three years. It wouldn’t be my first choice, but I wouldn’t rule it out.”
Council hopeful Calvin Yzerman said he would want to hear what the public wants before making a decision.
“I would have to gather input from individuals,” he said.
The municipal election takes place Oct. 18.