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Forth Junction Project
Frequently Asked Questions about the
Forth Junction Project

 
Forth Junction Project Vision Sharing Historical Perspective Ground Transportation
Heritage Preservation
Forth Junction
Heritage Society


Frequently Asked Questions

What does Red Deer have to do with trains?
Red Deer has grown in population in the past 22 years from 58,000 to over 97,000 people (over 50% increase). It was in 1991 that the large Canadian Pacific railyards were completely relocated from downtown to the west side of the city. Since then, a new major road was built (Taylor Drive) as well as major residential and commercial developments on the former railyard site. The only clues left that there was ever a railway there is the historic CPR railway station at the head of Ross Street and the CPR bridge across the Red Deer River now used as part of the Trans Canada Trail. So it's reasonable to understand that a large segment of the population wasn't exposed to the railway activity. But the fact remains that Red Deer would not exist, certainly at its current location, without the decisions made by the railway. The city would not have developed nearly as quickly as the distribution, social and economic hub of Central Alberta without the railway. For 60 years, the railway was the only viable means of settlement, distribution and travel in the region. The fact that the question is asked so many times is, in itself, the best reason for celebrating the railway heritage of Central Alberta and creating a marketable theme around it.

Would the Forth Junction Project attract only people interested in trains?
The Forth Junction Project proposal, although based on a ground transportation theme that includes trails and transit as well as railways, has been developed to attract people with all kinds of interests and various demographics. Displays and activities would be interactive, fun, educational and social. A central heritage centre or series of connected interpretive centres in the region including the downtown would be focal points for use as multi-use community gathering areas with recreational and educational activities for all ages, various social activities and set within pleasant natural and historic areas linked with the valued city trail system and the historic downtown. Such a facility would attract railway and transit enthusiasts from all over North America, especially if it is unique and high quality. There are an estimated 500,000 model railroaders in North America as well as hundreds of thousands of railfans, rail historians and transit buffs.

How many people could the Forth Junction Project attract?
A project in the U.S. similar to but smaller than what is proposed for the region attracted 100,000 people in its first year (2009) in spite of a deep recession. Two stand-alone model railway museums in the U.S. attract between 150,000 and 250,000 people per year. A model railway museum in Germany attracts one million people per year! The Forth Junction Project is much more than a model railway museum and is not just designed for visitors from all over North America but as a gathering centre for the community as well.

Why the possibility of multiple venues?
Although the original concept proposed two venues that would have the same general theme, they would have very different characteristics that compliment each other as well as other heritage attractors of the area. A downtown venue would be designed as a community and visitor focal point that would draw people into the downtown while at the same time showcase what residents tend to value the most, the river valley, parks and the trail system. A rural venue, proposed as a railway station and transit resort, on the other hand would require between 40 to 100 acres of land to fulfill its purpose as a railway station heritage lodging village and outdoor activity park in an open and natural environment. Currently, sites are being explored that could combine both proposed venues or conversely, a series of smaller interpretive sites, each with a specific focus.

Do we really need another railway/transportation museum?
The challenge of many railway and other transportation themed sites and museums is that they are usually too small, too static, too localized, too far away from main transportation routes, too unattractive and often too boring for most people not interested in heritage, trains or transportation. To attract visitors and residents alike, a major heritage and community venue needs to be interesting to different age groups, interactive, inviting, educational, changeable, relevant, authentic, comfortable, easy to get to, unique, fun and big. The Forth Junction Project takes all of these into consideration in the concept of the multi-function attractors. There are several unique-in-Canada aspects to the concept and the intent is to celebrate not only the past but the present and future as well. In addition, the venue(s) will have unique architectural treatment blending the future with the past. Another aspect is to link together, by means of heritage tours and integrated marketing, the various transportation heritage icons and venues in Central Alberta, including those in Stettler, Big Valley, Nordegg, Innisfail, Delburne and Wetaskiwin.

Is this a city project and will taxpayers have to pay for it?
The Forth Junction Project is not a municipal project but will require the support of the City of Red Deer, Red Deer and/or Lacombe Counties and possibly other municipalities as well as the general population and business community in order to fulfill the potential of these tourist, heritage and recreation attractors. It also has the potential to be a basis of a general branding of the city and region and there will be many opportunities for entrepreneurs and other non-profit organizations to collaborate with the general theme. Once built, the facilities are designed to be self-supporting, requiring no tax dollars to maintain. The structures that will need to be built to support the attractions will require considerable capital funding, most of which is expected to come from individuals, corporations and fund-raising activities. Creating tourism in Red Deer as a major industry will require considerable investment but if done right and done big will pay for itself over and over as a generator of jobs, community investment and pride.

Are the venues expected to be stand alone attractors?
Although each of the attractors are designed to be self-supporting and complete entities, they cannot be successful without a general integration with other attractions in the immediate area. If a downtown venue is created, it would integrate with a possible hotel and convention centre, the historic downtown, a variety of shops and restaurants as well as other cultural, entertainment and heritage venues, all of which would compliment one another. It may also link up with Bower Ponds, Alexander Way, the Rotary Recreation Park, other downtown heritage icons and regional heritage sites. A rural site would also integrate with regional attractors. The project is compatible with other regional plans including the Greater Downtown Action Plan, the River Valley & Tributaries Park Concept Plan and the Red Deer County Open Spaces Master Plan.

 

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