More interviews with Red Deer City Council Candidates + Andrew’s How and Why (and a note about grammar).
Andrew Kooman: Two words: Bike Lanes. Let’s just get this Q out of the way. In my lifetime, I’ve never seen two words create so much conversation in the City. This is a 2 part question.
A) What was your position on the pilot project before it became a reality – were you for the pilot or not – any why?
Dianne Wyntjes: Movement of traffic, transit, cyclists and walkability are all ways to move people. At its onset, I supported the pilot bike infrastructure project because cycling is a mode of transportation that some citizens choose or will choose in the future. Important for me, is this is a “pilot” project, which allows exploration of options without full commitment. In the initial stages of the plan, I acknowledge and continue to believe that we should have safe and appropriate connections which include routes and lanes for those who choose to use bikes as their means of transportation and/or recreation. As our City grows in population, as fuel prices increase, when people want to improve their health habits – we’ll see more cyclists on our streets.
B) What have you learned about the people of Red Deer and the political process through this pilot project, and what is your opinion of Bike Lanes now?
DW: While the pilot bike lane was contentious, I would hope our citizens recognize there were many other issues and priorities addressed for our City, during this Council term. I would hope, that just as our family members or co-workers may make decisions that we do not agree with, we don’t dismiss them in their entirety.
One never knows the full ramifications, impact and full extent of the pros and cons of a project and options for changes, until it’s completed; hence why this is a “pilot” project.
- Any road changes should be well communicated, staged and allow for adjustment. When people are accustomed to a certain routine or structure, it can be difficult to adjust to change. I’ve learned that when something new arises, there must be adequate awareness of the issue and adequate consultation. And that more dialogue will bring better decisions.
- The pilot project has engaged our community and community interest and conversation is always a good thing. The political process includes listening to diverse opinions, attempting where possible to find a balance of the interests, testing (the pilot), and keeping to the vision for our City’s future. Survey’s face-to-face and progress check-ins are important.
- Council, mid-term of the pilot project, recognized we didn’t get it right in some areas. This was acknowledged and recognized when changes, adjustments and some lanes were removed.
- An important component of any exercise is an education component. As a driver, I need to understand the bike lanes. Equally, when bikes are used as a vehicle, the practices and rules of road safety apply. I acknowledge we lacked this important component at the right time.
- Cycling infrastructure for transportation and recreation means connectivity throughout our City for cyclists to travel to their destination. This includes connectivity from our wonderful paths and trails to move throughout the City. It will be easier to plan for cycling infrastructure in new developments.
- There is no “one size fits all” for bike infrastructure. In some cases it can be a bike route (sharing the road), a designated bike lane, a shared asphalt sidewalk, a shared trail, or a separated bike lane with medians or planters that divide high bike traffic and high bike speed from vehicle traffic. Think about the “8-80 rule – safe for an 8 year or 80 year old”.
- Most North American cities who have implemented bike infrastructure have experienced pushback against the change and there’s always controversy. I’ve wondered if our City did not begin planning and preparing for other transportation choices such as bike lanes, future Councillors would wonder why we didn’t make that consideration.
- The ABC’s for a City – Always Be Changing. There are more cyclists on the Red Deer roads than there were 3 years ago. The pilot bike lane project has created awareness of our streets and sidewalks; for drivers, pedestrians and cyclists. For instance, some citizens have recognized the value of bike lanes as they’ve seen vehicles are slowing down, e.g. 39th Street. Som
- e citizens acknowledge they’ve adjusted to the road changes and are able to share the road without road rage and angst.
- I would not support a decision to “remove all the bike lanes”. In the pilot, mid-term, some of the bike lanes were removed. Listening to citizens, I still have concern for 39th Street/40th Avenue and the lane along 48th Avenue. These will be a priority for review.
- My opinion of bike lanes now? Mobility choice must include vehicle choice, transit, walkability, and cycling. So a vision of bicycle infrastructure in sharing the roads, sidewalks, paths and trails will continue to be an important community conversation for our future as we prepare for population and City growth. The next Council will include bicycle infrastructure in a proposed Transportation and Trail Master Plan
AK: The City has put much effort and resource into uncovering Red Deer’s true identity. What is Red Deer to you and what does the City have to offer the province in its next 100 years?
DW: Red Deer is home to me, I’ve lived here since 1975. I plan to retire here. Coming from a farm west of Red Deer, I appreciate our central Alberta soil and agriculture production and being conscious of growing up, not out. We are a community who sees the beauty of the four seasons. Our location between Calgary and Edmonton, being a smaller City is an asset. We’re growing, but continue to have friendliness throughout our City. We pride ourselves in keeping our City clean, with community volunteers participating in GreenDeer and the annual Red Deer River Cleanup. Our location in central Alberta is an asset. We’re in close proximity to 3 Lakes – Sylvan, Gull and Pine Lake with potential for swimming, fishing and boating. We have Canyon Ski Hill nearby for winter fun recreation. We have healthy living opportunities with our City trails, many sport organizations with active Red Deerians of all ages. We have many parks and trails, our Riverbend Golf and recreation area, amenities at the Pidherney Centre with curling, the Dawe and Collicutt Centres, our Recreation Centre, new spray park and two skate board parks. Many diverse events such as our farmer’s market and Wednesday market, cruise night at Parkland Mall, summer festivals and our Christmas Santa Clause parade give provide lots of free things to do. We have the expanded Centrium with concerts, our Rebels Hockey team, our Westerner days and a world class event of Agri-Trade. We have community spaces such as the Golden Circle, the HUB downtown, our Red Deer Museum and Art Gallery and culture events throughout the year. There’s always something to do or volunteer. We’re a great City to raise a family, get an education, get a job, and earn a decent standard of living, a City with opportunities, for the young and the old.
We enjoy our freedoms in Red Deer. We have access to many public amenities for our education, health, senior care and aging needs. We have our libraries, Ronald McDonald House to support sick children and families, and the new cancer centre at the hospital. We have Red Deer College and the downtown Donald School of Business,
I’m always amazed by the Red Deer spirit and the “can do” attitude within our community. There is generosity within our community to contribute to so many events, occasions and fundraisers for local charities. Red Deer works together to make things happen and that’s impressive and builds community.
Our future for the next 100 years:
We can benefit from our location between Edmonton and Calgary as a desirable city and community to live and for business and job opportunities. We can maximize our potential to be a city and community that’s innovative and diversify our economic development, expanding beyond our central Alberta agriculture sector and the oil and gas sector to opportunities in health management, technology and renewable energy.
We will be environmental leaders and a community that recognizes the value of our land and that we are building up, rather than out, and preserving prime agriculture land for the production of food. We will be water stewards of our Red Deer River and watershed and we will have planned for weather and climate impact of drought and floods. We will be land stewards for environmental sustainability and our land use. We will be progressive and move forward on environmental initiatives such as waste management.
Community partnerships will be strong. We will have effective education institutions with our public, catholic and francophone schools. Our Red Deer College will be known as the significant learning institution with education opportunities for learners that will include continuation of trades, degree granting status and accommodation for different ways of learning, e.g. classroom, community, on-the-job, on-line and lifelong learning.
We will have leadership and decision making where Red Deer is fiscally responsible and wise with investment into community infrastructure and amenities. We will be welcoming to large and small business and prosperity, and be a welcoming and inclusive community to all. We will be a vibrant and attractive City within central Alberta.
AK: What do you think are the biggest challenges the City faces in the next four years and how do you propose to address them?
DW: As a political decision maker, one of your Red Deer City Councillors, when facing challenges, it boils down to the questions: “What do you want me/Council to do?” and “How much will it cost us?” Listed below are the many challenges I see us facing within the next four year term of office.
The answer to “how do you propose to address them?” lies with determining community priorities through citizen engagement, conversation and dialogue, and determining as a collective Council, where we have the capacity to respond within our City financial means and our people/administration resources. Some issues also rest with our advocacy initiatives and discussions with the Province of Alberta.
- Staying in tune with the results from 2013 Ipsos Reid citizen satisfaction survey. The polling results indicate that transportation is on the top of those polled and that Council must manage our road infrastructure. I will also add the maintenance of sidewalks and water/waste water pipes in the ground.
- Economic Development for the City to retain and attract business investment which diversifies our local economy with jobs and services and diversification of our economy. It’s important to recognize that labour market shortages will be a challenge and that our community has a skilled and educated workforce to meet employment needs. The business sector working with the education/post-secondary education institutions to determine education and training requirements so we have a skilled, educated and available workforce.
- Affordability and keeping property taxes competitive and comparable to our neighbors and Alberta mid-sized cities is a priority. We will identify capital projects for the next 10 years, and have a critical view during the operating, capital and mid-year budget review(s). One of the conversations will be whether to invest in an aquatic centre/50 metre pool, what value that brings and means for our community, and how that decision can impact other community needs and interests.
- Affordable housing options and choices integrated throughout our City is a priority.
- Safety in our downtown, throughout our neighborhoods and recognising the importance of our role as citizens as we report crime, police enforcement but also focusing on the root causes of crime.
- Grants and funding challenges from the provincial and federal governments may be reduced which impacts infrastructure investment and city needs. Municipalities require alternative revenue sources to pay for capital infrastructure. Through continued advocacy as Council and through municipal organizations such as the Alberta Urban Municipality Association and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, we work together to ensure long term and sustainable funding. For instance, this includes the MSI – Municipal Sustainability Initiative (provincial), and federal funding for transportation, recreation, water and waste water system funding. Great things happen when we work together in advocacy and planning at all 3 levels of government: municipal, provincial and federal.
- A City taxes, borrows and spends. The City has an operating budget of $288.6 million (2013). We must keep our debt manageable and at the same time ensuring we are maintaining and investing in infrastructure and community amenities so we don’t grow stale. At the same time we manage expenditures to ensure we don’t have unnecessary spending. Yes, we have debt but it is manageable debt. Our City of Red Deer debt (2012 financial statements) of $205,964,000 was divided by the population of 91,877 for a debt per capita amount of $2242. For comparison sake in 1982 in today’s dollars, the debt per capita was $3190. Red Deer is in the “middle of the pack” for mid-sized Alberta cities for both debt and debt limit. Red Deer has not asked the province to increase their debt limit like other Alberta cities. Red Deer has among the lowest tax rates for commercial and industrial development in comparison with other cities. Working on a multi-year budget model is important work for the next Council.
- We face challenges that the federal and provincial governments place on funding tied to P3’s – public private partnerships. These have risks, including higher private financing costs, loss of democratic decision making and authority by elected officials based on long term contracts of 25-40 years, and hidden costs for the tax payer.
- As Red Deer looks to growth, expansion and future development, being watchful and considerate of urban sprawl with review and change, as required, to the City’s design guidelines and neighborhood planning principles.
- Attention to how we move about the city and recognize citizen choice of their mode of transportation. This includes vehicles, efficient transit, car-pooling, and active transportation of walking and cycling.
- The Riverlands Development investment, a major project for our City and development community, which will include housing options and urban living downtown, business opportunities and public meeting spaces, will be a wonderful development for Red Deer.
- Managing increasing utility costs which impacts all Red Deer households and businesses is a challenge. We have limited decision making based on the deregulation of the energy market.
- Cooperation, support in regional planning with our neighbor counties/municipalities, including land use, public transit, regional economic development, and water/waste water agreements is important work.
- Continued advocacy with the province on issues of ambulance dispatch and the contract with Alberta Health Services. Red Deer should continue to retain the services of ambulance dispatch rather than the province’s vision of centralized services to Calgary. Other advocacy issues include the development of a new Court House (provincial jurisdiction), which will impact City lands, funding issues such as the Municipal Sustainability Initiative (MSI), green trip funding, the future of Michener Centre, and importance of housing models and programs, including seniors housing and supports as our population ages.
- The Alberta Municipal Government Act (MGA) is undergoing a review by the Province. We will continue our advocacy with the Province and monitor how changes will impact Red Deer and our decision making.
- We will continue environmental stewardship and ensure we are caretaking our air, land, water, including education about what each of us can do, e.g. composting and less in our landfill, participating and supporting community gardens.
- Communications and dialogue with our Red Deer citizens is a priority. Including social media, public engagement, surveys, and traditional communications of newspaper, radio, and face-to-face dialogue.
AK: What are you most proud of accomplishing or contributing to in your term as City Councillor?
I’ve been honored and proud to serve our community and represent our City as one of Red Deer’s eight City Councillors. I have committed my time and energy and treat Council as my full time job.
I am Proud of supporting motions that provided support to make things happen in our City. Such as my contributions and support for:
- In this term of office, Council’s prioritized and determined this Council’s Strategic Plan with themes and work plans focused on the economy, design, movement, identity, safety and dialogue. This kept us focused and demonstrated the integration of Council decisions and the operational work required.
- Working with administration on our governance model, we reviewed, developed and adopted policies that will provide a very good foundation for the next Council.
- My motion and support to keep Michener Centre open, our advocacy with the Province on their decision, it’s impact on our most vulnerable Red Deer citizens, and how any changes will impact the community, people and lands.
- Recognition of poverty reduction initiatives such as support for the motion that the City of Red Deer support the Central Alberta Poverty Reduction Alliance (CAPRA) and the community conversation to define a living wage for Red Deer. Note: a living wage is not the same as a legislated minimum wage. A living wage calculation understands how much it costs for a person or family to meet their basic needs of safe, decent standard of living in their community, including basic expenses of rent, food, transportation and childcare. Alberta cities such as Grande Prairie and Calgary have calculated a living age for their community.
- This Council adopted the Plan and our City is moving forward with its Environmental Master Plan. We now have measurements to account for progress, analysis and adjustments as we work on our role and initiatives, to improve our environment.
- New neighborhood planning guidelines and standards which focus on density.
- Financial support for Red Deer Regional Airport infrastructure which enabled their board and management to have Air Canada have its first flight from Red Deer in September 2013, with international flight access for Red Deer.
- Support and working relationship with our aboriginal community that provided 20 grandfather stones in a Circle at Coronation Park that celebrates aboriginal people and culture. As well, working with the Red Deer Native Friendship Society on land rezoning for aboriginal housing and a culture centre. Conversations continue with the RDNFS considering the impact of the provincial 2013 flood.
- Support for City participation with CCMARD – Canadian Coalition of Municipalities against Racism and Discrimination.
- Supporting the motion to bring the Tour of Alberta to our City.
- Supporting the bid for the 2019 Canada Winter Games and how we can come together as a city of people, organizations, business and sports enthusiasts to put in a winning bid.
- Supporting the Ross Street Patio and seeing people enjoy themselves and the community activities in our downtown (entertainment on the Patio, the Wednesday market throughout the summer, the Centennial Street dance, walking tours and interpretive signage).
- Support for the City of Red Deer Sponsorship which included Blue Grass Sod Farms sponsorship of the centennial spray park.
- Progress on regional initiatives such as the transit partnership to Blackfalds and Lacombe. And having a respectful and on-going working relationship with the County of Red Deer including progress and agreement on the Inter-municipal Development Plan.
- My Council work this past year includes working with our community Centennial Committee who has organized a number of family friendly and affordable events throughout the year to celebrate Red Deer’s 100th anniversary.
- Understanding and learning more about the Red Deer River’s watershed and as a Board member of the Red Deer River Watershed Alliance, working with a committed board and community on the Integrated Watershed Management plan with reports on surface water quality and wetlands, riparian areas and land use, and water quantity and groundwater resources. What’s key is our role and the steps we take in promoting good use and proper management of water within our Red Deer River watershed. A particular incident that caused consternation was how fortunate we were downstream of the Plains Midstream pipeline spill and how that impacted the RD River watershed.
- An appreciation for the skills and commitment of our city staff that provide services each and every day throughout our City. An example of this is the City’s Emergency Planning team that went into effect and how Red Deer has the structures and strategies for emergency action. Red Deer was also able to provide support to the provincial flood emergency in southern Alberta as well as the Slave Lake Fire.
- I’m proud this was not a divisive Council. I have an open mind to different perspectives and while we may not have always agreed, we disagreed with respect and continued to move our City forward.
AK: How a City helps to provide services to those in need and those who are vulnerable can make it a great municipality. How do you rate Red Deer in this regard; where is the City doing well and where can it improve?
Those vulnerable in our city include not only those who have poverty of the pocketbook, but also includes citizens with poor health where treatment isn’t being received for chronic conditions, those with health conditions such as HIV, dementia or mental health challenges, those who have addictions, community members (young, singles, families and seniors) who have housing challenges, and children who are living in poverty. There are those with suicide risk and depression. We have seniors suffering elder abuse. We have a growing urban aboriginal population and new Canadians, many living in poverty.
These are the faces within our Red Deer community. There are also the working poor who cannot provide adequately with their part time or full time job or where the pay cheque doesn’t meet the daily needs of shelter, food, transportation and if needed, child care. Reliance on the Foodbank is their norm. There are those who have literacy challenges which bring many barriers in their lives.
We have many needs throughout our community. Some are visible and others not so visible. I think about the story I heard of a young child who went to school and was sleeping. It was found the child couldn’t sleep at home because of difficult home circumstances. Then there are the many breakfast programs provided for the children who come to school hungry. We are fortunate in Red Deer to be a compassionate and caring community. We have many organizations and volunteers throughout the City who provide services and supports. Many non-profit organizations experience scarce resource and stretch their dollars to the maximum. It’s recognized the community works together to prevent duplication and maximize efforts and initiatives. Funding is always a challenge for our community agencies. So too is turnover of the caring staff who provide the services and need training and rejuvenation in their work.
How do I rate Red Deer in this regard?
We’re working away to make a difference in reducing and preventing poverty from a moral and economic lens, but the challenges continue and grow. Assessing programs and asking whether current practices are working is always important.
Much is accomplished through tax dollars allocated through the FCSS – Family and Community Support Services, along with donations through the United Way, the supports provided through the many social agencies, volunteer organizations, private sector support, service clubs and our church communities. This is how Red Deer contributes to make a difference. However, as tax dollars are limited for social supports, even with collaboration throughout our community, there is competitiveness for the grants and dollars. There’s not enough dollars for the many needs we have throughout our City.
It’s key those needing support and services know how to access those services, including preventive support and services. Being up-stream and pro-active of any challenge makes a difference. I think about our downtown where the majority of community services/resources are provided and we have many less fortunate and vulnerable citizens residing in our downtown. Differences are made with services such as our policing with domestic violence supports, elder abuse interventions, and the police in crisis team who can assist, rather than incarcerate those with mental health issues. The challenge of our downtown community continues to be in the lens of attention and response.
Where we can do better?
Our City has made progress. That progress will continue, but we cannot be alone in the response. Even though we live in the wealthiest province in Canada, we need to be together with provincial and federal actions. The province and Premier Redford in the last election committed to eliminating childhood poverty within five years. The work of a provincial poverty reduction strategy and working together – makes a difference.
Being familiar with organizations such as the Central Alberta Poverty Reduction Alliance (CAPRA) and a province initiative of Action to End Poverty in Alberta, brings people, ideas and actions together. Groups like these make a difference and have synergy for change. The province needs to pressure the federal government to work with the provinces and cities to have a national coordinated plan to address inequality. Cities also see provincial and federal programs and supports reduced or eliminated over the years. This downloading impacts our City. For instance, federal initiatives such as social/affordable housing are set to be phased out in the next five years. That will be problematic for all Canadian municipalities, including Red Deer.
I was pleased that our City Council passed a motion (7 to 2) to support CAPRA on determining a living wage for our community. This is an important step and community conversation so we all understand the costs for living in our City as well as a conversation about poverty reduction.
I and other community members see the need for a community treatment centre in Red Deer. I’m hopeful through community partnership and vision; this facility will become a reality within the next few years.
With the City’s report to the community of homeless and affordable housing initiatives, and with the City’s Point In Time Count in October 2012, real statistics demonstrate the need for adequate youth and homeless shelter beds as temporary options along with permanent affordable housing within our City. We have challenges within our community in this area.
As our population grows, the needs will continue to provide supports and services for the vulnerable in our community. It is not only about compassion, and the team community approach of working together. We must also remember that poverty is an economic issue, considering impact on health, policing and justice, and lost economic opportunities for those who have no jobs. People do not choose to be poor or homeless.
AK: Vibrancy of the Arts can make a City remarkable, even inspirational. On a scale of 1 to Remarkable, where would you place Red Deer? What is your connection to the Arts and in your opinion how important are they to a thriving community?
Arts and Culture are a significant part of any City’s identity and increasing our arts and culture community will bring attachment and attraction to Red Deer as we live and work in our City. There’s also the economic impact for those who are involved and work in the arts and culture field.
There are great things happening in our arts and culture community, including the creative work of Red Deer’s Art Council and many community artists. It’s to be recognized that artists need affordable living and work space and a community that supports the arts and culture community. I place Red Deer at a “7”, with room for more inspiration, energy, creativity, excitement and community support. Our downtown, and perhaps even the future development of Riverlands, has opportunities to advance and promote our arts and culture community. September 2013 saw the opening of the Red Deer College City Centre Stage, which is a space for not only RDC student artists and faculty, but a community hub for Red Deerians, visiting artists to learn, enjoy and celebrate art and culture.
This past year, I had the honor to work with many volunteers as Red Deer hosted the Lieutenant Governor Alberta Distinguished Artist Awards Gala in June. The Arts Council organizes the yearly Red Deer Artwalk Festival and this year, celebrated 25 years. I’ve also volunteered at Sunnybrook Farm’s pancake breakfast and encourage Red Deerians to enjoy the Farm with its history and key events throughout the year (lunches, turkey and ham dinners and BBQ’s at the Farm, their tasty pie sale, youth summer day camps, and the annual Pioneer Days).
Red Deer’s Festivals such as the Children’s Festival, Centrefest, the Latin Fiestaval are growing in attendance each year. So too are events such as the Mayor’s Garden party in July. There are also events at Bower Ponds with theatre productions from local groups such as Tree House Youth Theatre and musician performances. Bull Skit Comedy entertains Red Deerians and show cases the many talents of the performers. And of course, the Ross Street Patio has brought vibrancy and activity to our downtown with musicians, performers and people watching. Our public libraries also host arts and culture functions such as music, galleries, readings and events for our citizens to enjoy.
Unfortunately, this year Red Deer’s Central Music Festival event was cancelled due to poor ticket sales. The last six years have seen enjoyment of an outdoor family oriented music festival. Hopefully Red Deer’s committed volunteers and the community will see the Festival return in 2014.
With municipal investment to our Museum and Art Gallery, Red Deerians can now enjoy many changing exhibits as well as MAGnificent Saturdays to enjoy family fun activities. There are always lots of things to enjoy at the Museum, including Red Deer’s permanent exhibit – Remarkable Red Deer, with stories from the last 100 years that celebrates and recognizes Red Deer’s history.
AK: What qualities do you expect and hope for in the person who will be elected as Red Deer’s Mayor?
Three “i’s “come to mind: integrity, inspiration and insight. I hope for a leader who has integrity, is inspiring to lead our City in a progressive direction, and a leader who is insightful to our current and future needs. A Mayor who weighs out the issues, who recognizes the ramifications of decision making – both positive and negative, and who has vision for Red Deer’s future opportunities and challenges. As Councillor, I would appreciate working with a Mayor who is collaborative and able to draw upon the diverse opinions at the Council table as we build Red Deer for today and tomorrow. A Mayor who understands respectful relationships and can establish an effective working relationship with our City Manager is also important.
A Mayor who has wisdom for our city’s best interests, including fiscal responsibility (I’m a tax payer too), an ambassador for Red Deer, who attends the many events and occasions, a Mayor who is out and about our City – talking, listening and communicating as they meet with citizens from all walks of life. A Mayor with patience, compassion and wisdom.
AK: There will be a number of individuals elected to Council for the first time in this election. If re-elected, what is your strategy for working well as a Council member for Red Deer’s best interest and what do you bring to the table as a team player?
We run independently as individual Councillors, but when elected, are required to work together as Council to made decisions in the best interests for our citizens and community.
My strategy is to continue to learn on the job, to learn from my colleagues, hopefully they will learn from me, and I will be available to answer questions from new Councillors. I will be collaborative, not competitive with my colleague Councillors. I have experience with conflict resolution, negotiation and mediation skills. I am a good listener with my ear to the ground of what our citizens are providing as ideas and feedback. I use leadership qualities of being a leader with my head and my heart, to be open minded to different opinions and ideas, but still not be one to be lead down a path I don’t agree with. I like to think I have “common sense”.
AK: As a Councillor you are given an expense account of roughly $20,000 to attend City related conferences and training each term. Through the expenditure of these funds, how have you used them to develop both personally and professionally in the last four years as a member of Council?
While a new Councillor brings their personal tool box of knowledge and skills, there’s much to learn about being a Councillor; hence the allowance, which if not used is returned back to the overall Council budget. Since my first election in October 2010-2013, I attended the yearly Alberta Urban Municipality Conference (AUMA) when Alberta municipalities/Councillors/Mayors come together and discuss issues of importance and priority as well as hearing speakers/presentations on topics of interest for City Councillors. These included taxation and property assessment, policing, women in municipal government, waste management, to name a few. At the AUMA conference, we also have opportunity to hear the Premier address the conference and meet and discuss issues with Ministers of our Provincial Government, e.g. Municipal Affairs, Transportation, Economic Development, Culture, Aboriginal Relations, Tourism, etc.
I also attended the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) Conferences, an Alberta Economic Development Conference, and an FCM Sustainable Community conference.
I attend when available, local Chamber of Commerce luncheons to build relationships with local Red Deer business/Chamber members, and to learn from guest speakers and presentations, e.g. energy, education and diversification opportunities for our community. I attended the Canadian Water Summit conference which was held in Calgary in 2012, learning about water consumption, conservation and environmental initiatives.
I participated each year in representing Red Deer on “parade duty” and had opportunity to represent Red Deer at the Stettler, Bowden, Delburne and Bentley parades. It’s always valuable to build respectful relationships and have interesting conversations with neighboring community Councillors, including our County of Red Deer Mayor and Councillors.
AK: In the lead up to the last civic election, I asked who you would like to emulate in life. In the future, when people consider your legacy as a person and as a public servant, what do you hope they will remember about you and want to emulate?
I hope I’m remembered as having passion for my community and City. I am approachable, a good listener and inspire others to become knowledgeable. I hope I’m remembered that I worked well with my colleague Councillors and together, we made an impact during our Council term(s). And that I encouraged our Red Deer citizens, including our youth, to vote and participate in democracy and their municipal level of government, as well as the provincial and federal levels of government. That I walked the talk, I didn’t shrink from challenges or opportunities, I was thoughtful, and that I did my homework. I hope that I am remembered that I made a difference – whether in a conversation, listening and learning, in my decision making, when I gave a smile or word of encouragement and in my work of public service for our community.