We are really truly lucky to live in a city like Red Deer. Our City is well maintained, our taxes are not overly high, and despite some reports, Red Deer is a safe community to live in overall.
For those of us who have called Red Deer home for most if not all of our lives, the City has certainly seen its changes – some subtle, some more dramatic.
In the last 10 years in Red Deer, for instance, the City has seen rapid growth, with more development popping up especially on the south side, larger-scale shopping complexes and more big box stores.
Residential areas have also boomed as well, stretching the City’s perimeter in ways unimaginable in earlier days.
With this scale of growth of course come challenges that larger centres often struggle to find answers to – homelessness, increased drug use, prostitution and crime in general.
Red Deer continues to feel the pressures of these issues as well.
Although this City has really revamped part of the downtown over the last year (think Little Gaetz), still, a drive through the City’s downtown will reveal some of these challenges up close.
These problems are certainly not going away, and thankfully there are people in our community who are trying to make a difference. Not only for the benefit of Red Deer as a whole, but for those within these lifestyles as well.
Of course the RCMP does a great job of keeping our streets safe. On the other side, we have an organization that works to connect one-on-one with many who are sometimes caught in a street-involved lifestyle through no choice of their own.
The Central Alberta AIDS Network Society (CAANS) works nightly to make that kind of a difference. They go out on the streets to hand out mitts, toques, food, clean needles and condoms in an effort to bolster harm reduction measures. The personal connections they make with these folks are perhaps the most meaningful aspect of the program as a whole.
These people should be commended because it’s just too easy to pretend these kinds of problems don’t exist – especially in a city that is relatively small like Red Deer.
Without trying to solve these issues or at least reach out to this vulnerable population, the problem will only escalate as the ‘mixed blessing’ of urban growth continues.
Even with these challenges, we should still count ourselves lucky to be living in a clean, walkable, welcoming City like Red Deer.