An interesting proposal has been suggested for our municipal governance that is modeled after the provincial and federal electoral system.
Federally we have Members of Parliament (MPs) and one of them is also the Prime Minister. Provincially we have Members of the Legislature (MLAs) and one of them is also the Premier.
Federally our fine city is divided into 2 electoral districts or ridings both federally and provincially, so we have 2 MLAs and 2 MPs, and anyone could also be our Premier or Prime Minister, or Speaker, Cabinet Member, or Opposition Leader.
Back to our city’s governance, we elect 9 people currently, 8 councillors and 1 mayor for 1 electoral district. The idea being suggested is 3 wards, 3 councillors each with 1 also being the mayor.
Population wise and geographically 3 wards would be fairly easy. Using the last municipal census. Approximately 1/3 the population lives east of 30th Avenue so that would make an easy boundary and approximately 1/3 live north of the river, another easy boundary. The other 1/3 would be south of the river and west of 30th Avenue. Easy and already done.
Now, why would we consider 3 wards over governance of a single entity?
Look at thhe history of the wards, the services offered, crime rates, return on investments and you can see the reason.
The east of 30th Avenue ward has, 3 high schools with plans for 2 more, has the Collicutt centre with a recommended site for the next multi-use aquatic centre, 2 emergency services location, and a pickle ball court centre.
The north of the river ward has no high schools with no plans for any, the Dawe recreation centre, YMCA, and 1 emergency services centre.
The other ward has 1 high school, 1 college, downtown recreation centre, museum, tennis courts, Michener pool, Westerner, Kinex arenas, curling rinks, a proposed cultural centre, hospital, multiple emergency services to name but a few.
So it is easy to see the rationale behind and the appeal for a ward system as our city grows in a manner favourable to some and not to others. 3 wards with 3 councillors each and 1 of the 9 would also act as mayor. It works provincially and federally and it would make councillors responsible and accountable for any continued disparities, right?
It is an option. Just saying.
Local opinion writer: Is Scheer in charge?
Contributed as an opinion piece by Garfield Marks: Who is the de facto conservative leader?
Andrew Scheer is on record as being the leader of the Conservative Party of Canada. But who is the de facto leader? Is it Doug Ford, Jason Kenney or Stephen Harper? Who is really running the show or calling the shots?
Premier Doug Ford has shut down the Ontario legislature till after the federal election. Premier Jason Kenney, newly elected of Alberta has set up a $30 million war room, and spends more time talking about Prime Minister Trudeau, than about Alberta wildfires’ 10,000 displaced Albertans. Stephen Harper was key in getting Jason Kenney elected and keeps giving advice and direction to conservatives.
Here in Alberta the Conservatives will win handily but silently. Here in my region, the federal Conservatives could run a sock puppet and win. Our Premier can focus his attention on provincial issues, because I believe, (as I was once told), that the candidates send much of their brochures and donations to candidates in other provinces.
Premier Doug Ford of Ontario is according to recent public opinion polls sinking to levels much lower than former Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne. I do not think Ontario residents want to be pushed by the Premier in any direction at this time.
Premier Jason Kenney is still carrying the baggage from his leadership race. Workers, staff, and members being fined, $75,000 last I heard, kamikaze candidate and election fraud investigations and being from Alberta are not positive attributes to encourage voters to support Andrew Scheer.
Stephen Harper is a political creature who cannot let go. He is like a hockey player, past his prime but still hungry for the game. Intelligent, political but polarizing and not a good shadow obscuring Andrew Scheer’s leadership.
So who is the real conservative leader? Depends on who you ask, I guess. Just don’t ask me, because I don’t know anymore.
Former City Council Candidate says taxpayers mislead on tax increase
Submitted as an Opinion by Calvin Goulet-Jones
1.89% Tax increase you say? I beg to differ.
Every Spring the city sends out a news release stating how much the city has increased our property taxes. Have you noticed something off with your taxes over the last few years? Now before we get into it, note that the city collects taxes in three ways. First they collect your property tax, next they collect the provincial education property tax, and third they collect the piper creek foundation taxation levy which I believe goes to seniors’ housing. The increases I am going to refer to take out the education and piper creek amounts as the city isn’t on control of those and focusses specifically on the tax revenue collected for the city.
In 2017 (May 1 to be exact) the City put out a news release saying the combined taxation increase was 1.1% for that year
In 2018 (April 30) the City put out a news release saying the combined tax increase was 1.5% for that year
In 2019 (April 29) the City put out a news release saying the combined tax increase was 1.89% for this year.
If you are like me you pay close attention to your taxes. I noticed an extreme variation between what the City News release stated and what we are actually taxed. And in case you’re wondering, no, the variation is not because of property value swings.
Now hold onto your seat here.
Red Deer Council (who seem to have smiles plastered on their faces every time they announce the tax rate increase) are either extremely ignorant or purposely deceptive as the property tax increases that you and I receive are not at all what they announce.
When the city announces what the tax rate increase is, they are not actually announcing the tax rate, they are announcing the Budget Increase. This may seem somewhat similar but it is not especially In a city who’s growth has stagnated, and where businesses are fleeing downtown causing the tax base to decrease substantially. If you lose 2% of your revenue and increase your budget by 2% you have to make up that difference and that is done in the real tax rate which is called the Mill Rate.
Red Deer’s administrations position (as sent to me in an email) is that “Mill rate changes are not indicative of tax rates”. Nothing could be further from the truth as your taxes are calculated by the Mill rate multiplied by your homes assessed value. When you are paying significantly more per $1000 of your house’s value than what they announce, you know that their statement that the mill rate not being indicative of tax rates is full of bologna.
Lets look deeper where you will see Red Deer’s Mill rate increasing since the beginning of the largest recession our province has seen in a generation. The increases are mind blowing.
Unbeknownst to many the 1.89% announced this year does not reflect the actual increases. The actual Mill rate increase was not 1.89% (remember this is just the city portion) it was a whopping 4.85%. That’s right,but still barely scratching the surface. In 2018, Red Deer’s 1.5% increase announcement was actually a 4.323% Mill rate increase. In 2017, the city’s 1.1% announcement was actually a 4.611% increase!
To give some context Red Deer’s Population growth since 2015 has officially shrunk, we recorded 100807 people in 2015. The latest data has us at 99,832. Inflation since 2015 has been 6.21%, and Albertas GDP since 2015 has grown by less than 1%. The popular line during elections is that we are going to tax population growth + inflation. Well that only works if you actually follow through. The actual tax increases we have experienced since 2015 have been nearly THREE TIMES inflation + population growth. Since 2015 Red Deer residents have seen a whopping 17.014% increase, which is a 10.8% higher increase beyond inflation and population growth and it appears to me that council believes they have done a good job here. What a joke.
Red Deerians know full well how hard this recession has hit us. Many of us are easily down 10% in our earnings and many more are down 20%, 30%, some even 40% in their yearly earnings since 2015. This doesn’t even include those who have been affected by unemployment. Council owes it to Red Deerians to do better and frankly Red Deerians owe it to themselves to ensure that in 2021 more than just 29% of the electorate show up to vote.
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