Stormy season for council

City council has been going through a rough season lately.

Between the outpouring of criticisms over the bike lanes, which they were forced to partly backtrack on, to dealing with residents of Clearview North who are upset about the proposed rezoning of land that could lead to the Red Deer Native Friendship Centre Society’s affordable housing and cultural centre in their neighbourhood.

Feelings of discontent have been surfacing, and much of the blame has been directed at council.

First, the Bike Lane Pilot Project had hundreds of citizens frustrated this fall as they tried to adjust to narrower routes, newly-designated areas for cyclists and slower moving traffic.

Although there were supporters, it became clear that council would have to do something to satisfy angry motorists who wouldn’t accept the changes.

Eventually, council supported a recommendation that bike lanes on 55th St. and 40th Ave north of 52nd St. revert to the original configuration.

Council also opted to remove the lanes on 59th Ave. north of 70th St.

Ultimately, many citizens felt that they weren’t kept in the loop as to the extent of the project. And many blamed the City for not better communicating the entire plan.

This was also the case with the Clearview North Area Structure Plan, which proposes to change the zoning of a four-acre site to allow for affordable housing.

The Red Deer Native Friendship Society is looking to build a cultural centre and affordable housing units on this site. Citizens voiced their concerns earlier this week about the proposal at a public hearing. Many said they were not informed about the plan.

Council heard concerns over declining property values, crime and safety and increased traffic to the area. A classic case of ‘not in my backyard.’ Council will make a decision regarding the issue Oct. 15.

So was there a breakdown in getting the word out on either issue?

Perhaps both sides should shoulder the blame. With many claiming ignorance about City projects and the impact they would have, the City is to some degree coming up short about getting the word out about some projects.

Or at least they aren’t communicating the message about how far-reaching or impactful a certain project will be.

As for the public, many just don’t bother keeping up with City development and projects until they basically trip over it.

Then they are completely taken by surprise, when if they had kept an ear open – even to some degree – on municipal politics, they would have an idea of the project in question.

The time to act is during the conceptual stages when the City is inviting the input. Both parties apparently have to step up in the communication field.