RED DEER, ALTA. — The city council for Red Deer, Alta. has approved a $121 million capital budget that includes plans to move forward with improvements to the G.H. Dawe Community Centre as well as a commitment to continue planning a new aquatics centre.
After discussing the future of the new aquatics centre, city officials decided on a resolution to further consider scope and location with a commitment to move detailed design costs forward from 2023 to 2019.
The placeholder for construction remains as recommended in the plan.
“It (the decision) allows us flexibility but holds true to the fiscal reality of this budget,” said Mayor Tara Veer in a release issued by the city. “We need to balance competing community expectations while navigating significant reductions in provincial government infrastructure funding. This city is genuine in wanting to move the community forward, but we need to manage expectations about the timeline for major projects given financial realities.”
City council also allotted $2.6 million to plan an expansion and enhancement of the G.H. Dawe Community Centre. The project includes a twinned and expanded arena and new spray park.
It would cost $32 million in construction costs with preliminary dates scheduled for 2021 and 2022. A $15 million federal grant has already been applied for to help support these costs.
Also passed by the council were commitments for crown paving, infrastructure upgrades in Riverside Meadows and water and wastewater infrastructure, including a phosphorus recovery facility.
The city also approved some components of the Northland Drive project, connecting along Highway 11A as a part of a long-term plan to connect along the river to 30 Avenue.
“We are focusing our investments towards projects and infrastructure that ensure our sustainability while ensuring we are still being proactive in planning for growth,” said Veer.
“We recognize the importance of keeping tax rates as low as possible for our citizens while the economy continues to move through a state of recovery, and also ensuring we have the infrastructure in place to meet growth and support economic development that positions us for our community’s future.”
The new capital budget puts the city’s estimated debt limit at 56 per cent which is under its debt limit of 75 per cent.
“When we developed this budget for council’s consideration, we focused on sustainability of our infrastructure and kept the current economic reality at top of mind,” said city manager Craig Curtis.
“The reality is the economy continues to recover more slowly than anticipated, and recognizing this, we recommended a capital budget that respects council’s direction, vision for community amenities and budget guidelines surrounding debt limit and minimal tax increases.”