Category: City Hall

Applications now open for FCSS Funding

The Red Deer & District Family & Community Support Services (FCSS) Board is now accepting funding applications for preventative social programs.

School boards, municipalities and non-profits in the Red Deer and District FCSS region – including the partner municipalities of The City of Red Deer, Red Deer County, Town of Bowden, Town of Penhold, Village of Delburne and Village of Elnora – can submit applications for funding for preventative social programming. Funding through this Grant Application Process will be allocated to successful proponents for three years (2021-2023).

The FCSS mandate is to provide preventive social programming that enhances the social wellbeing of individuals and families through promotion or intervention strategies provided at the earliest opportunity. In-school mentoring, preschool wellness and seniors outreach programs are among some of the many programs currently funded by FCSS.

Applications will be accepted until 4:00 p.m. Friday, April 3, 2020. Complete details, including information about the application process, can be found at reddeer.ca/FCSS

Applicants can choose to attend one of the following procurement orientation sessions for more information on the requirements and process:

– March 5, 2020 from 10:00 a.m. to 11:15 a.m. in the Crimson Star room, 2nd Floor, City Hall

– March 10, 2020 from 1:30 p.m. to 2:45 p.m. in the Crimson Star room, 2nd Floor, City Hall

City seeks business feedback through survey

The City of Red Deer is launching a new survey geared towards business owners in Red Deer and their dealings with city hall.

“Doing Business with The City” is a five-question survey all about how The City of Red Deer works with businesses, and are looking for ways to “help us remove unnecessary red-tape and work better for you.”

The questions focus on what business barriers the city should consider removing, what they’re doing well with, economic and industry trends, and what other similar-sized cities are doing well that Red Deer could look into adopting.

In September, city council was delivered an Economic Leader Report with eight recommended initiatives which included financial incentives for downtown, red tape reduction, and customer service.

Jason Taylor, a divisional strategist with the city, says this survey isn’t just meant for downtown business owners, but city-wide.

“While the other seven initiatives (of the economic report) are focused on economic development and promoting positive activity in the downtown, the eighth initiative is really kind of city-wide in terms of how we do business in all areas of our operations for all of our customers and stakeholders.”

Taylor also says this is the first specific survey geared towards red-tape reduction.

“The survey is related to council’s strategic goal of establishing Red Deer as an economic leader, as well as in recognition of not only the provincial economy, but provincial efforts. We see an opportunity for us to take advantage of the feedback from the community and improve the way we do business, to serve our customers and citizens better.”

Taylor adds, “Hopefully, we will be gaining a lot of good feedback in terms of the effectiveness of our current outreach activities and opportunities to improve, or various avenues we might be able to engage the business community further.”

If you are a business owner and would like to share your thoughts, you can complete the survey here.

Grant funding available to groups that help city’s homeless

Grant funding available to groups that help city’s homeless

Local groups that help accommodate homeless people can apply for $15M in grant funding from the federal and provincial governments over the next four years.

Earlier this month, city council endorsed the 2020-2024 housing and homeless services funding allocations as recommended by the Community Housing Advisory Board (CHAB).

The City of Red Deer is the fund administrator on behalf of the federal and provincial governments and allocated funding based on the recommendations of the CHAB.

Three funding streams will run from April 1, 2020 to March 31, 2024:

Grant funding available to groups that help city’s homeless 1(City of Red Deer)

CHAB also recommended allocations for Community Capacity and Innovation (CCI) funding, which comes from the Reaching Home – Designated Stream. This provides funding for the Point-in-Time Homeless Count, Coordinated Access Administration and Innovation and Training Funds.

“This funding means we are able to continue supporting the community and housing individuals in need,” said Philippa Gregoire, Vice-Chair of the Community Housing Advisory Board. “Through a Coordinated Access Process, agencies will work together to house individuals experiencing homelessness in support of the shared goals of the Community Housing and Homelessness Integrated Plan – to implement a responsive, sustainable, safe and effective housing and homelessness response system.”

“We are grateful for the continued funding we receive from the federal and provincial orders of government and the opportunity it provides our community to meet local housing needs,” said Mayor Tara Veer.

The full list of funding recipients will be available The City’s website in the coming weeks.

For more information, visit www.reddeer.ca/socialplanning.

City seeks public input on snow and ice control

The City of Red Deer has arranged a series of public consultation sessions as they aim to its snow and ice control program

The City evaluates and makes improvements to the Snow and Ice Control program each year in an effort to balance safety, access, and costs while minimizing impacts to road users.

This year, however, the City wants to hear from residents about their experiences and ideas for improvements.

“As we approach into this multi-year budgeting program, we want to make sure that we’re making decisions based on community need and the representation of the community,” explains Greg Sikora, Public Works Manager.

“We hear from residents, we hear from phone calls, we hear from emails, we hear from social media, but there’s a large silent majority. What we want to be able to do is tap into that resource and make sure that we fully understand clearly what the community needs.”

Between Feb. 12 and Mar. 31, residents can participate in one of four Snow Workshops and provide their input online or interact with staff at various locations and events throughout the city.

The online survey is available starting today by visiting www.reddeer.ca/snow and there are four Snow Workshops planned for the month of March. Workshop dates include:

Mar. 3 at the North Side Community Centre from 6:00-8:00 p.m.

Mar. 4 at Festival Hall from 6:00-8:00 p.m.

Mar. 24 inside the gathering area at Notre Dame High School from 6:00-8:00 p.m.

Mar. 25 at the Golden Circle from 3:00- 5:00 p.m.

Sikora says the goal is to be absolute certain they’re making decisions around the services they provide to the community, based on the most complete and accurate information possible.

He notes that this year has been a challenging one for Public Works, from a snow and ice control perspective.

“As everybody knows we’ve gone through some very cold temperatures into about three weeks of really warm temperatures where it has required us to be flexible and nimble on our program service deliveries,” he reveals. “Our Grey Route plow program was suspended because of the amount of melting that was occurring, no longer required that plowing of residential areas to prevent the future ruts that could develop through the balance of winter.”

Sikora says historical weather data helps them plan for what they might expect each year.

“We work with that as the best information we have and we want to position ourselves so that we don’t have mobility issues later in the winter that may impact residential accessibility, or even worse, ambulance accessibility into areas,” adds Sikora. “It’s about getting the right information, getting what is of value to the community and working towards finding optimum programs to meet that service delivery.”

Sikora encourages residents to sign up for the Notify Red Deer program to be notified of when your neighbourhood is scheduled to be plowed.

Information gathered from the workshops and online survey will be used by City administration to develop operational recommendations and potential program changes to the City’s Snow and Ice Control Program.

Administration will be reviewing the workshop learnings and operational recommendations with council later this summer.

All residents who share their thoughts online, at a workshop or pop-up event will be entered to win one of two $150 Visa gift cards.

Business owners say more can be added to city’s downtown incentive program

A new incentive program for downtown development projects announced by the City of Red Deer this week is getting mixed reviews from at least two local businesses.

Ken Heywood, owner of Heyrock Chartered Accountant on 47 Street, describes them as mostly a “bricks and mortar thing.”

“The City and the Downtown Business Association (DBA) have promoted those sorts of things a number of times and there’s certainly nothing wrong with them, but I don’t think it’s addressing the issue,” says Heywood. “It’s not the bricks and mortar as much as it’s what’s inside the bricks and mortar that we need to deal with to revitalize our downtown. I think we need a little better focus from governance.”

Heywood says downtown’s reputation and perceived safety issues are obvious challenges to overcome.

“My personal view of that is it’s somewhat overblown,” says Heywood. “The perception is worse actually than reality, but there is certainly a reality there and I think until we address those kinds of issues, the bricks and mortar are nice but it’s not going to solve the problem.

“I walk the downtown three or four times a week and generally I feel very comfortable downtown – we just have to somehow convince people that it’s not that bad and once people start coming back downtown again, then I think some of the other issues go away.”

Heywood wants to see the City of Red Deer more strictly enforce downtown businesses to adhere to the municipal bylaws, fire codes and safety regulations they’re supposed to be adhering to.

“I think if the City did a better job of monitoring that, that some of what we view as tardy or not particularly nice would suddenly start to disappear,” he explains. “It would force the owners of some of those properties to get on with the job of revitalizing them. That would be an easy one for the City, I mean they send their fire department out to check that stuff on a regular basis, so they just have to make sure that there’s follow-up and that everybody adheres to those.”

Lisa Spencer-Cook, owner of LV’s Vinyl Caf on Ross Street, says she’s pleased with the City’s new incentive program for downtown development projects, but adds there’s more that can still be done.

“It appears these are all initiatives aimed at attracting new businesses, which is great, but there’s very little on this list to help us existing businesses,” she suggests. “We’ve been asking for low level street lighting in alley ways, parking meters to be addressed, a stronger police presence, for council themselves to populate and utilize our businesses in order to get a clearer understanding of what can be done while we wait for these initiatives to take place.”

RELATED: DBA lauds City’s downtown development incentives

Lacombe’s chamber of commerce moving to make way for commercial development

The City of Lacombe will be helping the Lacombe and District Chamber of Commerce move to a new home as plans get underway to turn their current location into a new commercial development.

The Chamber’s current office and Visitor Information Centre are located at 6005 50 Avenue. The chamber will be relocating by the end of May with help from a relocation package from the city that includes compensation for their building, reimbursement for costs to move the digital outdoor sign, and a suite of in-kind contributions for meeting and event space at low or no cost.

“This relocation is the first step in the redevelopment of this high-visibility property,” said Mayor Grant Creasey. “Both the City and the Chamber realized the potential that this land holds for development, and agreed to take steps to repurpose this underutilized site to expand Lacombe’s commercial tax base and promote economic growth.”

“On behalf of the Board of Directors, I would like to thank the City for working with us to ensure a positive outcome for the Chamber moving forward,” said Lacombe and District Chamber of Commerce President Theresa Johnston. “The Chamber’s mission is to be a collective voice advocating for growth and prosperity, and we believe this decision embodies that mission. With this agreement, we are pleased to be able to contribute positively to the growth of our local business community.”

“Our board and staff remain committed to our membership, and look forward to serving the local business community for many years to come,” said Johnston.

Lacombe city council previously decided to close the Visitor Information Centre due to low visitation.

City of Lacombe calls land exchange deal a “win-win” for taxpayers

The City of Lacombe has reached a deal with a local developer that is says will benefit taxpayers and revitalize key downtown properties.

The deal sees The Tricon Group purchase the former police station and current fire station building, as well as the former Provincial Building, from the city in exchange for Tricon’s property at 5046 56 Avenue, formerly the Parkland Regional Library building, and a $375,000 cash payment.

Under the deal, the Lacombe Fire Department will continue to operate in their current space as part of a lease-back agreement starting at $36,000 per year, until relocating to a new fire hall, which is anticipated for construction in 2023-24 as detailed in the City’s 10-year capital plan.

“This is a positive development for all parties involved,” says Mayor Grant Creasey. “At first glance the City may be exchanging two assets for one, but in reality there is much more to this agreement. We are trading closed doors and darkened windows for spaces that will immediately generate tax revenue, and once redeveloped, add to our vibrant downtown.

At one point the City of Lacombe has considered turning the former Provincial Building into a new city hall. Now, however, a new city hall is not part of Lacombe’s 10-year Capital Plan.

“This agreement also releases the City from significant ongoing maintenance obligations for buildings that had no immediate municipal purpose,” Creasey added.

Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Matthew Goudy says the operational costs of the former Provincial Building and current fire hall/former police station last year was well over $100,000.

Goudy says the land exchange is a win-win for both parties and for the community as a whole, given the Tricon’s track record with other local projects such as the transformation of the former Empress Hotel and the new Lacombe Community Health Centre, where the Parkland Regional Library will be moving to.

“This is a great example of a public-private partnership delivering value to the community, thanks to the differing but complementary needs of the two entities,” explains Goudy. “The acquisition of the former Parkland Library site creates a large, continuous municipal land reserve in the heart of our community from City Hall to the Gary Moe Auto Group Sportsplex, which gives us flexibility to respond to opportunities in the future.”

Darcy Stingel, marketing coordinator for the Tricon Group, says their hope is to create beautiful and vibrant downtown properties through this deal.

“Our intent is not to disrupt fire services whatsoever, so all will continue as operating,” says Stingel. “Our key focus will be on the Provincial Building – an underperforming municipal asset that we will have designs for shortly,” he exclaims.

“We appreciate the history of the Provincial Building, we appreciate the businesses former and potential future that could operate out of that space, and we are taking into consideration best practices when utilizing the existing structure, as well as courting interest from interested parties,” he points out.

Officials note the deal is expected to close in March, and will impact the City’s 2020 Operational Budget.

DBA lauds City’s downtown development incentives

The City of Red Deer has announced a new funding program aimed at supporting downtown development projects.

It’s hoped the program will increase activity and growth opportunities in the Greater Downtown Area while supporting the City’s overall Strategic Plan.

There are five funding opportunities in the program, which was announced Monday, including the Facade and Storefront Improvement Rebate intended to increase a sense of downtown pride through an investment in beautification, restoration, signage and improved security features.

Another is the Environmental Site Assessment Rebate, which supports owners of properties that require Environmental Site Assessments before redevelopment can occur, and the Demolition of Vacant and Derelict Properties Rebate, which assists property owners with demolition costs to facilitate sale or redevelopment of their property.

The others include the Utility Connection Fee Rebate, which supports property owners required to replace or upgrade utility connections as part of developing or redeveloping on their property, and the Residential and Mixed Use Development Grant, which promotes the development of newly constructed multifamily residential and/or mixed use units,

City officials anticipate these opportunities to contribute to a healthy, successful downtown by improving aesthetic, encouraging developers to build residential units downtown, and reducing the costs of investing in the downtown.

“These economic development programs are taking intentional actions to incent development in our downtown,” says Tara Lodewyk, director of planning services, in a release. “We recognize that downtowns are the heart of our cities and play a vital role as our communities’ business, administrative, and cultural centres.”

Property owners and developers may apply for funding from all five opportunities for a single location, pending eligibility. The first intake occurs from Feb. 15-Mar. 15, with a second intake planned Jul. 1-Aug. 1, pending available remaining funds.

Amanda Gould, executive director at the Downtown Business Association (DBA) says she’s particularly excited about the Facade and Storefront Improvement Rebate and Utility Connection Fee Rebate.

“The DBA has partnered with the City on the Facade and crime prevention program, as we run a very similar program with the DBA but with a much smaller budget,” says Gould. “So to be able to contribute meaningfully to the costs associated with a development, I think proves that the City is serious in their support of downtown.”

In regards to the Utility Connection Fee Rebate, Gould says the city has hit the nail on the head.

“Again, the City here is recognizing the costs of those associated with development in the financial climate that we’re in, and they’re trying to do their best to spur on investment in the downtown.”

Gould says the DBA’s new mission is to make downtown Red Deer a vibrant, diverse and engaged healthy community.

“The benefits of operating a business downtown is when you have a community of other like-minded business, you’re surrounded with over 500 businesses all doing the same thing,” she explains. “You have a dedicated police force down here dedicated to looking after the downtown core, a number of incentive programs to help you be successful whether that be through the City or DBA, and a big focus on the downtown. To be part of the solution has got to be quite a rewarding thing.”

Gould says the time is now for downtown businesses to take advantage of these incentives.

“If you have been considering development, if you’re about to start development, right now is the time to actually move ahead with any plans that you have,” adds Gould. “It’s a great time to do business in the downtown.”

For more information and to apply online, visit www.reddeer.ca.

Tri-Council working to ratify new fire services agreement

In September 2018, the Town of Rocky Mountain House, Clearwater County and the Village of Caroline held a Tri-Council Meeting to re-endorse the Stronger Together agreement and begin the discussion of a possible amalgamation.

The Stronger Together agreement, originally created on September 13, 2013, was intended to create opportunities for new partnerships for the provision of municipal programs and services and resolve matters of mutual interest.

On June 14 of last year, the Tri-Council held an Intermunicipal Collaboration Committee (ICC) to initiate discussions on various agreements such as regional waste and fire.

Four days later, Clearwater County announced their intention to pull out of the Regional Fire Rescue Service Agreement.

“Council’s intent with leading the change to the fire agreement is to continue in the spirit of partnership and the best interest of the region as a whole,” responded former Clearwater County Reeve Jim Duncan.

In their letter of intent, the county stated that a restructuring of the agreement was needed and that they owned the bulk of equipment and assets, and that the current agreement was “not effective.”

The agreement was set to end December 31, 2019.

A mediator was brought in in September after negotiations between the three municipalities accomplished little. Mediated negotiations began the following month and a draft of the Collaborative Discussions/Negotiations Protocols was drawn up, with the official signing taking place in November.

With the termination deadline of the Regional Fire Rescue Service looming in mid-December, Clearwater County agreed to extend the date till January 31, 2020 to allow for the completion of a new agreement.

The Town of Rocky held a special council meeting on January 30 and approved the draft of the new Intermunicipal Regional Fire Rescue Service Agreement. A special public Tri-Council Meeting was then scheduled for February 4 to ratify the agreement.

While both the Town of Rocky and the Village of Caroline approved the agreement, Clearwater County Clearwater County did not and the Feb. 4 meeting was postponed.

“The Town feels we are close to having a new regional fire service agreement with two of the three regional partners agreeing to the draft agreement,” Mayor Tammy Burke said in a statement. “The Town is hopeful that one more negotiation meeting to address the concerns of Clearwater County will result in strong agreement that serves all residents with exceptional fire service that is fair and equitable for all.”

The next mediation meeting is set for February 14.

Strong start to 2020 for building permit values in Red Deer

Strong start to 2020 for building permit values in Red Deer

Building permit values in Red Deer are off to a strong start this year thanks to some large projects getting underway.

The city issued $60.6 million in building permits last month, which is up from $20.5 million in January 2019. That’s despite only 56 permits being issued last month compared to 87 the previous January.

In December 2019, 67 permits were issued totaling $4.2 million.

Notable permits for the month of January include $26.4 million for construction of a six-storey addition to Points West Living phase 2 at 6960 Taylor Drive, $22.8 million for a 90-unit assisted living facility at 4736 30 street and a permit to construct an industrial building at 6430 Golden West Avenue, valued at $3 million.

Strong start to 2020 for building permit values in Red Deer 2(Source: City of Red Deer)