Alberta’s Municipal Affairs Minister was in Red Deer Thursday as part of his effort to visit all 342 municipalities in the province.
Shaye Anderson met with Mayor Tara Veer council and City of Red Deer officials, as well as Chamber of Commerce representatives and local businesses.
Anderson cited a number of positive things going on in the region, especially with the new QE II/Gaetz Ave. Interchange, expansion at Red Deer Airport and a future courthouse.
“The college is doing really well, business here is doing well,” he said. “I think there are a lot of opportunities with the integration of urban and rural down here in Red Deer. It’s something we hear a lot about, actually.”
Mayor Tara Veer says she and council stressed to Anderson the need for predictable, stable Municipal Sustainability Initiative (MSI) funding from the province.
“The 10-year capital plan and City operations are heavily reliant on that provincial funding," she noted. "We covered off police funding and inequities in urban and rural Alberta, highlighting that as the third largest city and being along the QEII corridor, we have substantial crime issues that we need provincial government support in order to address."
Veer says they notified the minister today that they will be appealing the province's decision to deny Red Deer emergency compensation in the aftermath of last June's windstorm.
Overall though, Anderson said the province’s relationship with The City of Red Deer is very healthy.
“It’s the third biggest city in Alberta. We have to make sure we have good, open lines of communication,” he said. “We just want to make sure we hear from them. I’m not a top-down type of person, and I need to hear from people on the ground, and then I can make my decisions.”
Reg Warkentin, Policy and Advocacy Manager with the Red Deer and District Chamber of Commerce, said the biggest thing for the city, county and the province is to find the right path forward together.
“What we want is to create municipal tax framework that has reliable funding to grow key infrastructure and we also need a tax framework that is fair to business, doesn’t pit regions against one another and just really allows them to work collaboratively while complementing the differences between one another,” Warkentin said. “The Municipal Government Act was just reviewed, but there are a number of aspects to that aren’t set in stone yet, and that includes the tax framework and the funding for infrastructure.”
Anderson visited the Permolex flour, gluten and ethanol plant in Edgar Industrial area on Thursday. He applauded the company for its efforts in looking for more ventures into bioenergy, as well as being part of the agriculture and agri-value landscape.
“Instead of shipping away our valuable resources and getting them back at a higher price, we can do that stuff here and Permolex is one of those companies that has an opportunity to show us that,” he said.
Permolex President Randy Cook said the province has done very well by his company, particularly with bridge funding they began receiving last fall allowing them to look at expanding.
“The NDP has been very supportive for Permolex in our work to continue with environmental sustainability and lowering the carbon of vehicles on the road,” Cook said.
Expansion could mean additional jobs down the road, he adds.
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