Councillor Survey Question 2

What do you think are the biggest issues affecting Red Deer are, and how would you approach being an elected representative?

Janise Somer:

Please refer to my website.


Brenda Campbell:

I think safety and personal/property well-being is the biggest issue affecting Red Deer area. I would lobby higher levels of government for more stringent laws and penalties for repeat criminal offenders and to get the money they've promised us for treatment and transitional housing as well as the hospital funds supposedly alloted by the provincial government as this is another big concern.


Bruce Buruma:

Our Economy - Strong economies create strong communities. Red Deer needs to be competitive, responsive, service oriented so that businesses will want to invest here. Reputation matters and when it comes to business, we have work to do! We need to focus on recovery and long term diversification of our economy. Crime and Safety are the most common concerns. We need to have an effective plan that demonstrates results on homelessness, addictions, crime that has the confidence and support of our community


Kraymer Barnstable:

One of the biggest issues facing Red Deer is the growing concern for public safety. Within this problem is the reality of our growing homeless population. These concerns are very troubling especially for people that have lived in Red Deer for a long time. I believe our current council has only attempted bandaid solutions and in turn have made the problem worse. We need to take a hard look at possibly adding our own police force. I would need to see the costs associated before I blatantly declared this is our best option. I am afraid that costs may be too high at this point, but it needs to be tabled at the very least. We also need a shelter for our homeless. Within that I would like to see resources reallocated towards detox and counselling. This should allow some members of our homeless population to be able to get off the streets and back into society.


Victor Doerksen:

Segregation of our community over the implementation of the Restrictions Exemption Program and the mandatory vaccine policy for City staff and volunteers. Governance … why is it that Council was not part of the decision making on the above two major issues? We need a full Governance review. City involvement in land development. We need to take a hard look at the City expenditures in Timberland, Capstone, Queens Business Park, and the Econ Development park. Downtown: please refer to my blog for a more comprehensive answer.


Dianne Wyntjes:

As an elected representative you are one member of City Council; five votes for majority are needed to support a motion/matter. Citizens want and expect their elected Council to work well together. I’d like to see a quarterly or bi-annual communication piece to Red Deer citizens “what’s happening with Red Deer Council”. I would continue my approach as a Councillor by being accessible and responsive, continue my community communications on social media and continue to connect with the community. Reading additional information, in addition to the Council agenda is important for me as a community leader, conversations within the community and listening is important, along with reading Council agendas in advance and preparing for Council and committee meetings is my way of working. Biggest issues: - immediate conversations with the provincial government about their committed funding of $7 million and the location and their operational decisions for a permanent integrated shelter for Red Deer. In the meantime, ensuring appropriate temporary shelter measures are in place for the vulnerable. - mid year budget review from the two year budget of the past Council; two year 0% tax increases were determined for 2021 and 2022; how is the City of Red Deer doing financially and communicating that to the public; many asks come before a Council so knowing the financial statements is key. Council must be cognizant of the local state of the economy and specifically the challenges for individuals, families, seniors and businesses. And Council must also recognize the impact and striving not to increase fees and charges such as transit fees, recreation fees, facility rentals and development fees. - attention to community safety is never done; new Council hearing from the RCMP Superintendent at his regular update to Council, continuing to mitigate safety concerns through out the City and the downtown, including policing, bylaws and the social diversion team and continuing crime prevention education with Red Deerians. - attention to the economic development and business lens for downtown and all of Red Deer; responding to the concerns of the business community of safety, zoning and ease of doing business with the City, recognizing a healthy community brings jobs and services, economic recovery through and from the pandemic is a priority. How are we marketing Red Deer as competition among all Alberta municipalities is strong? How can we attract and anchor major new businesses such as a a large anchor business to Red Deer and/or the region? - looking to the arts and culture scene and what we can do to promote more vibrancy in Red Deer in this sector, eg. creative spaces, community ways to support local talents, City planned events and working through the Red Deer Major Events strategy to attract future events to Red Deer - looking to advancing “Community Days” where citizens, organizations, business can meet face-to-face with Council and Council can listen and hear ideas and concerns; no decisions at these meetings as Council makes them at the Council meetings - continued conversations with the provincial government to ensure Red Deer has mental health supports for Red Deerians; and we are moving on the plans for Red Deer Regional Hospital needs and expansion, including working with the local regional municipalities on this advocacy matter - attention to continued actions for a more welcoming and inclusive community, actions and initiatives to challenge racism in Red Deer, and truth and reconciliation community work with Urban Aboriginal Voices, Red Deer Native Friendship Society and the Metis Nation - connecting with Red Der’s youth with their ideas for Red Deer community - a lens to age friendliness for Red Deer seniors and connecting with what else we can do in Red Deer - followup on the motion from Code of Conduct #2 and the next Council’s attention to the issues for Council governance


Chad Krahn:

Red Deer’s current struggle is that it has not sought to define itself and has let its reputation get derailed by social issues and has been outflanked on economic development by its neighbours and larger centers.


Ryan Laloge:

The council getting City Administration on the right page and getting the priority setting process down in its own structure to allow it to make measurable progress on our downtown social and policing challenges.


Vesna Higham:

In my view, the most significant issues affecting Red Deer are: Crime and Social Disorder: Addictions & Homelessness Economic Development: Business Loss/Retention Fiscal Responsibility: Pressures on our Operating/Capital Budgets There are so many diverse issues and pressures facing our community; however, the three named above are the most pressing, difficult, and immediate challenges we need to address as a community. Addictions & Homelessness: So much of the crime and social disorder in our community is tied directly to drug addictions in particular and to the chronic homelessness that often precipitates. There's been a lot of media coverage of these issues over the past year or so. The existing shelter been before Council three times in the last 6 months with requests to extend the temporary shelter contract at Cannery Row - with the majority of Council (myself included) denying the requests due to absolutely untenable negative social disorder impacts to the surrounding neighbourhoods, businesses, and residents. I'll begin by saying that I do support the need for shelter services for the homeless, particularly given our harsh winter climate - and the City is working with the Province to construct a new permanent facility to accommodate our vulnerable population. However, what I cannot abide is the ongoing, unrelenting, totally unacceptable: garbage, smashed window/doors, personal threats, street fires, urination, feces, discarded needles, private property encampment, violence, and chaotic "war zone" that local residents and businesses describe taking place on a daily basis in the area surrounding the temporary shelter. We need a different operating model if we ever hope to make the permanent shelter work in our community. And we NEED to get the shelter and Overdose Prevention Site (OPS) out of the downtown core. The single most important thing we need to do as a city to mitigate the social disorder in our downtown is to consolidate shelter and related services into one permanent, integrated shelter program - to eliminate the ongoing migration of vulnerable people throughout the downtown. Currently, the homeless migrate from place to place daily: to obtain food, needles, rest, shelter, health care, to use the OPS (Overdose Prevention Site), and unfortunately, sometimes to commit crimes. They often leave a path of destruction and disorder in their wake, particularly if they're under the influence of drugs or alcohol. What I strongly advocate for is to work with the Province (who funds and oversees shelter and all social services) to bring related social services onto the one permanent shelter site. That means bringing as many of the following services onsite as possible: daily food services, health clinic, mental health counselling, job/skills training, leisure/recreation, and addiction recovery modalities, etc. Furthermore, I've been very vocal about my position respecting the operating model employed by the current shelter and OPS operators, which effectually requires little personal responsibility or organizational accountability for these negative activities happening in our downtown. I feel strongly that the new shelter must be required by the Province to adopt a "Good Neighbour" operating model with strict oversight and mandatory clientele intake questions/data gathering, as well as basic expectations of community service. We need to elevate our expectations (both in the short and long term) to help people break out of the cycle of these addictions and crime that are so destructive not only to their own lives, but to our community with such devastating negative impact. I would support having clients sign some form of a shelter "contract" upon entering (it's been successfully done in California) that sets out basic expectations for clientele such as: committing to a daily evening curfew (so they're not hopping in and out of the shelter to commit crimes in the middle of the night) and daily assigned chores around the shelter or neighbourhood (picking up garbage, sweeping up, dishes, etc.). The only way the new permanent shelter can successfully co-exist with its surrounding neighbourhood is to embrace and meaningfully maintain a "Good Neighbour" operating model that respects surrounding uses. The status quo cannot continue. We must fight for a more accountable "Good Neighbour" operating model. Our citizens deserve better." Business Loss/Retention: To say the pandemic has been hard on business and our economy is an understatement – with rising inflation, these hardships are ongoing and exponential. It’s critical to foster a more streamlined, business-friendly environment at City Hall as we continue to navigate residual Covid impacts to our economy. Regarding economic incentives, development approvals, tax breaks, and other regulatory levers that support business, my record reflects strong leadership on this file. Fiscal Responsibility: While the stats are down from previous years, crime and social disorder are still far too prevalent in our community – especially downtown. I support diverting more resources to our Social Diversion Team – to free up the more expensive police resources to focus on serious crime. Additionally, I support creating our own Municipal Police Force in a phased-in approach. A 2021 Parliamentary report recommends that the RCMP end municipal contract policing across the country as applicable.


Cindy Jefferies:

I believe the we need to focus on our downtown from a couple of perspectives. First and foremost, we need to use the $7 million the province allocated for a Red Deer shelter and build a permanent shelter with wrap around supports on site. We need temporary supported housing and permanent supported housing, as well as affordable housing. People experienceing homelessness and/or drug addiction need help. All of this work will help businesses too and help citizens gain a sense of safety in the downtown core. I also believe we need to work at attracting new businesses and retaining existing businesses. Encouraging more residential development in the downtown is essential. At this point, I am not certain what the best way to provide incentives is - reduction in taxes or DBA membership dues might be worth considering.

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