City council handles pipelines, power lines and ambulances during mid-year budget review

By Josh Hall (Twitter: @Vancan19)
August 22, 2017 - 1:22pm Updated: October 27, 2017 - 9:21am

Red Deer city council underwent its annual mid-year budget review on Tuesday, making only a handful of adjustments related to capital projects.

After all was said and done, the 2017 Capital Budget was raised by $734,000 to $105.7 million.

A capital reduction of $4.152 million was found for the cost of purchasing a portion of the North Regional Waterline from the North Red Deer Regional Water Services Commission. The new total is $4 million, with $1 million to come from reserves and $3 million being borrowed.

First reading for the addition of $2.2 million in debentures was approved to pay for the oversizing of the regional sewer gravity main line which stretches from Chiles Industrial Park to the Wastewater Treatment Plant. This portion of the line, which will convey wastewater from Lacombe and Blackfalds to Red Deer, will not only save the City money in the long run, but also minimize the use of limited available land down the escarpment along the future Northland Drive. It will also allow for faster servicing to the Chiles Industrial Park.

In the past year, two ambulances were involved in collisions which caused irreparable damage. To meet provincial standards, they must be replaced. Council approved a 2016 Capital Budget increase of $184,500 ($129,500 from insurances proceeds and $55,000 from Fleet Reserve) to purchase the first one. Council approved a 2017 Capital Budget increase of $195,000 ($154,000 from insurance proceeds and $41,000 from Fleet Reserve) to purchase the second.

A total of $2.491 million was approved to bury the power line on 48 Avenue from 50 to 53 Street in advance of the 2019 Canada Winter Games. Officials say the move will ultimately allow for a more effective design of the Canada Games plaza and provide a greater quality connection between it and City Hall. The area is expected to be a major pedestrian hotspot during the Games.

“This much needed development will improve safety, community access and economic development for our community and is especially important with the upcoming 2019 Canada Winter Games,” Mayor Tara Veer said. “The opportunity exists now to bury the lines and ensure increased sustainability.”

Most of council agreed the long-term gains far outweigh the short-term cost. Councillor Ken Johnston pointed out that with the reduction in cost of the water line purchase, they’re essentially getting this burial done for a few hundred thousand dollars. The project would also cost more down the road if council had decided to wait.

As well, council received a progress report on the new speed skating oval and football field at Great Chief Park. The report recommends maintaining the current rental fee structure for the facilities when they open later this year, while giving the public free access for skating for the first two years in recognition of Canada 150 and the 2019 Games.

“Balancing the needs of our community with our responsibility to ensure financial sustainability today and in the future is increasingly difficult as we continue to navigate the current economic conditions and as the full impact of the recession becomes a reality,” Veer continued. “The items approved by city council today were only considered in response to an immediate need or an emerging opportunity.”

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