A BIG STEP - The Alberta Urban Municipalities Association (AUMA) is now backing the City of Red Deer in asking the provincial government to support hospital infrastructure. Carlie Connolly/Red Deer Express

AUMA backs City of Red Deer in hospital expansion

More voices are now behind hospital expansion

The expansion of the Red Deer Regional Hospital has been on the minds of Red Deerians and it could soon become a reality.

Last week, City of Red Deer representatives came together at the annual convention of the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association (AUMA) in Calgary and heard some exciting news regarding hospital expansion.

The AUMA decided to endorse a resolution, which called on them to join the City of Red Deer in their advocacy efforts to encourage the provincial government to support hospital infrastructure in the Central Zone.

“It means that the AUMA will join the City of Red Deer in calling on the Alberta government to reinstate the Red Deer Regional Hospital in the capital priorities list in the 2018 capital budget,” said Mayor Tara Veer.

She added that the infrastructure, programming and service needs at the hospital have been of primary importance to not only Red Deerians, but to all Central Albertans in the AHS Central Zone.

The City has received strong support from the community to push the provincial government to fulfill this need.

“In heading into AUMA we were seeking out the support of our municipal colleagues across the province, and we felt that it was not only a Red Deer or Central Zone issue, but ultimately an Alberta issue,” said Veer.

A very strong voice for hospital expansion has been Councillor Ken Johnston, who was excited to see another voice brought to the table.

“Our whole council, the mayor and myself were just overjoyed that the vast majority of the delegates in the room supported equitable hospital funding for Red Deer and Central Alberta,” said Johnston.

Hospital expansion has been something close to Johnston’s heart as his wife passed away last year. She suffered a heart attack and wound up in the Calgary hospital rather than Red Deer due to the lack of service.

He added that the importance of this resolution is not only the support of Red Deer’s voice and the surrounding area’s voice that will be heard, but the whole provincial body will now advocate for hospital funding.

“It’s a tremendous endorsement of our cry, of our ask for the needed services that we so desperately need in Central Alberta. Now we have our provincial body behind us making the same request to the province, so it’s fantastic.”

Although the City of Red Deer was there to sponsor the resolution, the Town of Sylvan Lake seconded the motion, recognizing that the hospital issue is of regional concern.

The municipalities that have given the City of Red Deer letters of support to submit to the province includes the Town of Castor, the Town of Bashaw, Hardisty, Olds, the Village of Elnora, the Town of Tofield, the County of Wetaskiwin #10, Hanna, Innisfail, Drayton Valley, Bentley, Coronation, Sylvan Lake, Lacombe, Eckville, Ponoka and Red Deer County.

Veer and members of City Council also discussed other items on the agenda, which included the need for additional prosecutors in Red Deer, staffing for 9-1-1 operations centre, cannabis legalization, vacant provincial properties and needle debris.

Veer closed the conference by inviting all members to the 2018 AUMA conference in Red Deer in September.

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