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Chance of a lifetime
 
reprinted from Red Deer Advocate (Paige Aarhus) January 23, 2009
 
City councillor Cindy Jeffries hopes Red Deer residents will get on board for a "once in a lifetime" opportunity to completely redevelop the city's riverfront.

Jeffries presented an update on the Greater Downtown Action Plan (GDAP) at city hall Thursday. She and Lorne Daniel, a head consultant for the project, described a dramatically different downtown Red Deer.

"This will be and is one of the highlights of my council career so far," said Jeffries, chair of the GDAP steering committee.

The update reflects a growing interest in long-term high-density urban development and greater pedestrian access to the riverfront, developments that could transform Red Deer's low-lying downtown core.

"One of the themes we use is 'growing up.' Red Deer is moving beyond being a town, a small city and you'll see some high-rise towers coming up," said Daniel.

Three new areas -- Historic Downtown in the city centre, Riverlands west of Taylor Drive and Railyards west of Gaetz Avenue and north of Ross Street -- would be developed using three separate themes of live, work and play.

Daniel said high-density residential development in the Railyards area will offer living space for "people of all ages and income levels. Housing for everybody."

The neighbourhood would feature high-rise apartment buildings close to the riverfront and smaller apartment and single-family residential blocks in the area formerly known as Cannery Row.

"It will be a mix of low- and high-rise, lots of windows and doors to create a sense of urban safety," he said.

The Riverlands area, with its theme of play, is attracting the most attention. Developers envision a pedestrian bridge connecting Bower Ponds to a vibrant recreational area tailored to tourism.

On the other side of the river, where the civic and transit garages now stand, there are plans for a "Spirit of the River" plaza with space for outdoor cafes, buskers, market stalls and an "urban-style pool with fire pots" to attract evening viewing.

Riverlands plans also include a new hotel and convention centre and a year-round indoor garden and water centre, initially called "The Ark" and re-dubbed "Prairie Oasis" by developers.

Historic Downtown would get a new civic plaza, parkades to reduce congestion and a pedestrian path that connects Barrett Park to Bower Ponds.

The path will make it much easier for downtown workers to ride a bike to the office instead of driving, said Daniel.

According to the report, the full build-out of the action plan will take anywhere from 20 to 25 years to complete, depending on city budgets, government funding, private investment and the overall economic climate.

"The GDAP 2008 Update is a concept plan . . . It guides the future development of area redevelopment plans . . . but does not prescribe specifics," said the report.

But Daniel said baby steps, such as creating new public parks, will be taken as early as next year.

"The idea is to build on what we have right now and not feel that we have to completely re-do things," he said.

Council will decide on Monday whether to adopt the plan, which includes recommendations to hire a projects manager, hold public design competitions for major development elements and create a volunteer design review panel funded and coordinated by the city.

"I think the plan looks great and I hope council will give it approval," said Jeffries.
 


News articles related to historic downtown Red Deer redevelopment
(the original vision of the Forth Junction Heritage Society included an attraction in the new downtown
Riverlands but this vision was modified to have one destination close to the city and active rail line):

       Commentary: The Greater Downtown Action Plan progress and potential (Red Deer Express May 2013)
       News article: Riverlands development ready for debate
(Red Deer Advocate Sep.2011)
       News article: Railyards: Open house on a 20-year plan for downtown
(Red Deer Advocate June 2011)
       News article: Riverlands: Strong turnout for open house
(Red Deer Advocate March 2011)
       Commentary: Red Deer could use more bold visionary landmark designers
(Red Deer Express Sep.2010)
       News article: Paths to change (Rotary Recreation Park) (Red Deer Advocate Aug.2010)
       Editorial: Time for downtown vision
(Red Deer Advocate July 2010)
       News article: Big expectations for downtown Red Deer (Red Deer Advocate June 2009)
       Editorial: No San Antonio but hope left for Big Wow (Red Deer Express Nov.2008)
       News article: Canal plan jettisoned (Red Deer Express Nov.2008)
       News article: Red Deer - Alberta's next great city (Red Deer Express July 2008)


Downtown Red Deer Ground Transportation Themes

Michael Dawe articles related to railway heritage of downtown Red Deer:
       Looking back to when Red Deer landed city status (Red Deer Express March 2013)
       Prosperous times for New Year's, 1912 in Red Deer
(Red Deer Express Dec.2011)
       An early community landmark - the Michener Fountain (Red Deer Express June 2011)
       Lots of street name debate in City's history (Red Deer Express Sep.2010)
       Region celebrating century of railroad heritage (Red Deer Express March 2010)
       CPR Station Park once shining jewel of Red Deer (Red Deer Express June 2009)
      
Canadian Pacific Railway Bridge now 100 years old (Red Deer Advocate June 2009) 
       Red Deer's downtown hotels have celebrated history
(Red Deer Express June 2009)
       The history of Red Deer's CPR station
(Red Deer Express April 2007)
       Red Deer becomes a divisional point for CPR
(Red Deer Advocate Special March 2007)


 

 News articles about the Forth Junction Heritage Society:
World-class destination centre still in the works 11/13       Praise today's big dream 01/12       Forth Junction targets county 12/11 
Forth Junction pulling toward a new station
12/11        A volunteer on the right track 12/10        Tourism board supports rail project 10/10
Forth Junction rail project seeking charitable status
10/10        Rail tourist attraction idea gets rolling 07/10        Railway heritage 06/10
New idea for Riverlands worth an Olympic cheer 02/10       Happy to hear more talk on large-scale attractions 02/10
One-time opportunity 02/10       Tourism proposal facing obstacles 02/10       World-class attraction proposed for Riverlands 02/10
   

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