Questions From Red Deer Residents
I have been receiving emails from residents that wish to hear my views to the questions they have. I have posted their questions and my responses. If you wish to contact me with your questions, please do not hesitate to do so.
*Election Questions from Judy S.
HH: Thank you for reaching out to me. As I am a new candidate, I am still in the process of gathering information so that I can make informed decisions as well. I will answer your questions to the best of my ability. If you wish for further clarification on any of them, please do not hesitate to contact me again. It is my goal to have my website established with these policy goals in the very near future for reference by others.
*How would you provide accountability to the public? I believe that if I am a successful candidate; I am a representative for all citizens of Red Deer. As such, it is my responsibility to communicate what we as a Council are doing on behalf of the citizens. I was asked this question yesterday in a forum. I related the story that I had to make a decision on whether or not I was going to post my personal telephone number. I said yes because that is a way to contact your potential representative and I would not change that practice if I am elected. I think it is important to work for the citizens of Red Deer and that includes having the availability to answer questions and discuss future actions. And if the phone doesn’t work – text, Skype, email etc. are all viable communication methods.
* What are your solutions to the problems in the downtown core? This is a multifaceted question. It would depend on the problem that you would like to discuss. I will discuss economic development – if you wish for another topic, please reach out again. I would like to create a program of economic growth for our downtown core, as I feel that this area has been neglected for too long. I would like to see a rezoning of the Little Gaetz area into a walking mall. I think that this street is an excellent choice as the traffic flow is already very restricted on this particular street; it would not make much difference to close it off entirely. I would also look for support from business owners and the Downtown Business Association to create incentives to open small businesses in this new walking mall area. This area has many long established businesses but there are too many empty storefronts as well. Small business is the heart of any growing economy. I would also like the City to encourage special events for this area, like a Christmas market or a street performers festival to encourage tourism and bring more people into the area.
* Local police force: I am not in favour of a local police force. It is easy to undermine and underfund an institution and then blame it for not doing its job properly. Alberta once had a provincial police force and it was replaced because it was determined to be too expensive. As this was 100 years ago, I do not think it would be any more cost effective now. Local areas like Lacombe, Camrose or Lethbridge, that have local forces, tend to not have the same effectiveness in certain area like crime prevention or major crime investigation as they do not have the same regional resources that the RCMP have at their disposal. Given the recent events in the Lethbridge police service, and their questionable tactics and practices, I would depend on a well establish police service instead. (Not that they are perfect but it is easier to renew something than start from scratch and not know what you are going to get as a finished product).
* Ward system: I would like to be a representative for all of the citizens of Red Deer so I am not in favour of the ward system.
* Fiscal responsibility: Our main job as a Council is to use our resources wisely. As a teacher, I have a very good practical experience with making a few dollars stretch into an excellent program. I am hoping to use this experience with Council as well. It is not about just cutting costs but finding ways to increase the tax base and then create alliances within the province to convince the provincial government to actually give our own financial resources back for the use of all the citizens of Red Deer. If we have any large financial decisions, that could affect the budget for multiple years, it is incumbent upon the Council to have public consultations about that decision with the people who will be affected by it for years to come. A very good example of this for me is the money given to the Westener. While I am not necessarily opposed to the decision that was made, I was never made aware that this was even happening until recently. I think that I try to make myself aware of what is happening within the city on a regular basis. The lack of consultation irks me.
* Hospital/Medical: I would like to gather more information on this topic. My sister is a nurse but she is only one viewpoint. I would agree with her that the hospital is much too small for the population that it serves. Even with the announcements that have recently been made, we need to look at a major capital project to build another hospital or health facility for the city. If the Red Deer REGIONAL Hospital serviced the regions around Red Deer and we had a Red Deer CITY Hospital, that would make much more sense. That would require many citizens contacting all of their local representatives at every government level to voice our needs, which have not been met to this moment in time.
* Freedom of speech: Votaire said: “I may not agree with what you say but I will defend your right to say it.” Within reason, of course. I have tried to make that a guiding principle.
* Mask mandates: As a councilor, it is your job to be a good role model and follow the regulations set out by experts in their field. There is still a lot of fear in the city, which was not helped by the lack of clear communication by all of the public health measures and how they would affect the population. There is also much misinformation and that again is not helped by a lack of clear communication from our leaders.
* Lockdowns: Necessary when necessary and not necessary when not necessary. I can’t really say much more about this as this is not my area of expertise on why they happen. I really only have anecdotal evidence.
* Mandatory vaccination and vaccine passports: I do not have enough information to make an informed decision on this. I did not like it when seatbelts became mandatory but I don’t even think twice now about putting it on. I just think mandatory vaccination is not quite the same. I will need some time to research and think of a clearer view on this topic.
* How do you feel the provincial government has handled Covid-19? I think like most things in government, they did some things well and others I would like the opportunity to have a discussion with them on why they made those decisions. I know that this answer is affected by my last two school years. Kids need consistency to learn and there was a lack of consistency in a wide variety of different areas for them. I do not think the general public is that much different and a clear, concise, practical and cohesive plan that was communicated clearly would have alleviated much of the fear that is still currently found in our society as a whole.
I appreciate the questions. They really made me think. I hope that I was able to give you enough information that will allow you to make your informed decision. Take care,
*Election Questions from Travis
HH: Thanks for reaching out. I will do my best to answer your questions but I am sure that you realize that they are multifaceted and require our entire community to work together for viable and sustainable solutions. I believe that I am a community builder in my current job and I would like to use my skill set to build our community as a whole. We can do these things together.
*How would you work to diversify and rebuild the local economy? Red Deer has gone through many boom and bust cycles as we have not diversified enough. I would like so see Council encourage a wide variety of small businesses to come to Red Deer, which is why I proposed a renewal of our downtown area. My dad was a small business owner and I believe that small businesses are the life blood of any economy. That being said, I would also like to see a shift towards encouraging more of the giga economy to come to Red Deer. What can we as a city do to encourage the next tech start up to actually start here. I believe the city has much to offer but we need to get the word out.
*What role (if any)do you see municipalities (particularly Red Deer) playing in combating Climate Change? I like that most of the lighting in Red Deer is now LED but is that enough. I very much encourage the concept of Green Deer. The city should give incentives for individuals to retrofit their home with energy efficient lighting, heating, etc. I am also proposing a transportation audit to be made of Red Deer. Where can there be more efficiencies in our transportation network? How can we encourage more use of public transportation or zero emission travel?
*What ideas do you have for combating with racism within the city? The simple answer is empathy, to walk a while in someone else’s shoes, but that is not easy. The more that we can do to encourage getting to know those around us, in our own neighbourhoods, will go a long way to helping to create empathy. This will not be done over a short amount of time but we need to encourage it a lot more than is happening now. As a teacher I would also say there is definitely some learning that needs to go along with developing empathy.
*How do you plan on making the city welcoming and safe to the LGBTQ2S community? This would be the same as above. In many ways the attitudes towards these diverse communities are linked. We need to do more to create a caring atmosphere for all, no matter who you love.
*How would you help those struggling with addictions and homelessness? There are not enough mental health services in our city. I believe that this is the underlying cause of much of issues with addictions and homelessness. While I am not sure what Council can do to influence AHS directly, I would be a strong advocate to push for dedicated mental health services for all citizens but especially our most vulnerable.
*What is your top priority? For renewal: I believe there are many great things in our city but there has been neglect – of our downtown area, for many areas of culture, for the economic viability of many businesses and for our most vulnerable populations. I would like to be an advocate for all but these are the areas that I would like to help renew for our city.
I hope that I have answered your questions to your satisfaction. I know that I could probably talk even more to fill out these answers. If you wish, please give me a call on my cell: 403 392 8084. I can answer your questions better, I bet.
Have a great day,
*Election Questions from Red Deer and District Labour Congress
*Do you support a living wage policy for all City and contracted staff? Why/why not? I would support this as an ongoing policy for City workers and contracted staff. While “living wage” may have different meanings to different people, we, as a City, need to have the best workers who are compensated at the best rate so we can retain their services. My dad was a small business owner who had loyal employees for many years because he always said that it was easier to keep good people than to continually retrain new ones. This is a policy I would support for our City as well.
*Where do you stand on the privatization of Public Services? Do you support the use of Public-Private Partnerships (P3s) to finance projects? As a teacher, I have yet to see a P3 school that worked well for students, staff, or families. They seem to be more interested in turning a profit rather than create an atmosphere of learning or the development of a community. With so many restrictions put into place for the use of the facility, it makes it an empty shell rather than a place where knowledge and culture are welcomed. I think that would apply to many other P3 projects as well–care for profit over people.
*In what ways would you support having social procurement built into city contracts? If not, why not? I have to admit that I had never heard the term “social procurement” before and had to look it up. If we look for ways to develop the skill sets of a wide variety of different community groups, especially those that may not have received the same access to opportunity, I would wholeheartedly support such a venture. As my parents were immigrants, they had to forge many opportunities themselves with very little knowledge of a system that was often not understandable. Anything that we can do to level the playing field for all qualified candidates, no matter their background, the better it will be for the City.
*What are your thoughts on community economic development and the role of workers in the economy? My number one priority is a RENEWAL for the City, starting with Central Business Core. Downtown has been neglected, in my opinion, for far too long. There are small pockets of development and success, but they are small and far between. We need to increase the level of development for the entire city, but should first focus on returning our downtown area to a viable economic center. Rather than chasing after the shiny new Capstone area, a place that has been in the works for 25 years, we should return our focus to the heart of the community. Small business and small business workers and owners are the center of any economic recovery and I would champion this for our city.
*What are your goals for affordable and supportive housing in Red Deer? While my last name may be pronounced “housing,” it is definitely not my area of expertise. I know that there is a shortage of quality safe spaces for our vulnerable population. I would like to explore the use of the old bus terminal land as a place to put some of the tiny homes that are currently being used for veterans. I think this might be a viable solution to the affordable and supportive housing situation here. Some of our vulnerable population may want homes from month to month, which need to be accommodated elsewhere, but the tiny homes may be a solution for day-to-day safe spaces. I would like to see an increase in residential density in our downtown area for all members of our community. I think it is possible with some clear direction from Council.
*What steps would you take to support harm reduction initiatives for Red Deer’s vulnerable population? Do you support safe injection sites? Why or why not? I do support a safe injection site. I think that it is important to have expertise ready and available for those that require help when they are in crisis or when they have made a life decision to change. It also needs to be located where it will be used the most, not relegated to a quiet, out-of-the-way (NIMBY) area of town where it will not fulfill its intended purpose.
I see addiction, mental health services, homelessness, and policing as a single issue with many prongs. It is like a chair with four legs. If one of the legs is shorter because it does not have the same length, the other three legs will feel it. A chair works best when the support of all four legs are felt. These four areas need equal support to work best for everyone. It is all of our jobs to make the average citizen of Red Deer understand that. I would start with the lack of mental health services, including the creation of a mental health ambulance and a mental health trauma center at our hospital, but I know that I can only inquire about such things. But I will INQUIRE until change occurs.
*How important is public transit to you and how will you work to keep it accessible, affordable, and sustainable? I have called for a transportation audit for the city of Red Deer. I put a post out recently about our bus system. There were two respondents that really struck a chord with me. One was a single mom that does not have the ability to drive. She has three kids, and it is their fares that affect their monthly expenses the most. I would like to see what the financial impact on the bussing system would be if kids under the age of 12 rides for free. I suspect that it would be very doable.
Another respondent was disabled and also lacked the ability to drive. I think we could copy Edmonton and Calgary and offer a reduced rate monthly or yearly pass for riders with disabilities. Again, I would suspect that this would be attainable.
One respondent said that she remembers Dial a Bus and hated it because it took so long. I would like to investigate if smaller busses that ran on more direct routes, with times linked to a real-time tracker phone app, would alleviate the wait times that Dial a Bus had and make the entire system more viable.
*This past year, the provincial government made decisions about coal mining and many Albertans expressed concerns about the potential impacts on our water sources. What are your thoughts on these issues? Unilateral decisions without public input are frustrating and fruitless. Leaders need to be representatives of the people but need to listen to the people first. This type of leadership seems to be happening more and more in the province. First, a decision is made in an echo chamber, then many people rally on social media or the regular media, and the decision is reversed. If I did this in my job, I would have a mutiny. It is better to collect all the information that you can, from a wide variety of sources, to make an informed decision that takes into account future impacts. Alberta has always been known for a shot from the hip but it seems it is becoming more shoot from the lip without any thought put into decisions. It is one of the reasons that I used the word RENEWAL in my campaign. It is important to have renewal on many levels, especially when it comes to seeking public input into major decisions. Council only heard from five speakers to the road that is being pushed through on 22nd St. That does not seem right.
*Election Questions from Barbara B.
HH: I will do my best to answer your questions. I like how you said “briefly” so I will do my best.
*Please answer the following questions. Quick yes/no/ OR A BRIEF (one or two sentences) response for questions that require a bit of detail.
*Is your CURRENT and COMPLETE List of Funders for your campaign posted publically online? I have no funders yet but I intend to list them on my website, under supporters**
*Do you send your child to private/public school? I have no kids in school; I am a teacher in a public school.
*Do you PRIMARILY prefer ‘user pay’ OR ‘general taxation to fund current city projects? General taxation with consultation with the public who we represent
*How long have you been a resident of Red Deer? 1975 – 1988; 1997 – current
*Prior residence? The Netherlands, university in Edmonton, worked in Camrose, one year overseas.
*List of your VOLUNTARY Community Involvement in Red Deer, INCLUDING your local church/religious voluntary activities. That would not be brief: currently, I sit on SPARC and several ATA committees; I have sat on committees for my church in the past.
*Your Views on LGBTQ+ CHILDREN’S rights in Red Deer school systems. That may not be brief either; I am a teacher so the Professional Code of Conduct is very important to me and I try to treat everyone as equally as possible, no matter who they are, where they come from, or who they love. If you wish for further discussion about this, I would love to have a further conversation. Please give me a call at 403 392 8084
*Your Views on LGBTQ+ HUMAN rights, in general, incl marriage. Please see above. I have several LGTBQ2S+ Family members that are married.
*Opinion, what is the role of religion in the Red Deer city council government? My religion is for me personally; my job as a Red Deer City councilor is to represent my constituents to the best of my ability. While there may not be a distinct separation between church and state in Canada, we need to be aware of our role as a representative for all members of our community.
*Opinion, what is the role of the Red Deer city council government in religion? None.
*Five words to describe your understanding as to the Cause of Homelessness in Red Deer? Mental Health/Addiction services lacking
*Do you support UCP GoA back to school plan for Alberta students? At this point, I have to but I would speak further with my school community as to what their views would be for their kids in my school.
Thank you for your questions and for reaching out to me. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you wish for further clarification on any of my answers.
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