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Railyards -- City 'too late' on railway lands: citizen
Open house on a 20-Year Plan for Downtown

reprinted from Red Deer Advocate (Lana Michelin) June 15, 2011
The City of Red Deer is two decades too late in planning for the redevelopment of the downtown railway lands, says a Red Deer citizen concerned about preserving the city's rail history.

Paul Pettypiece, a member of the local Forth Junction Society dedicated to keeping alive the city's railway heritage, attended an open house Tuesday that starts the ball rolling on a 20-year plan for the region around Superstore.

While the area northwest of the downtown, which includes the Saputo dairy plant, Cannery Row Bingo, the city's water treatment plant, and new Edges project on the Red Deer River, is predominantly commercial and industrial, the vision is to make it mixed residential/commercial in future.

According to the City's Greater Downtown Action Plan, Red Deer's downtown cannot be revitalized unless more people live, work and play/shop there, said the plan's chair Shirley Hocken.

She sees families living in a high-density neighbourhood near the river, within walking distance of playgrounds and shops.

Pettypiece believes this kind of redevelopment planning should have been done before the railway tracks were ripped out in 1990.

"If the city had some forethought," he said, a bike trail, or green corridor, could have been created between the pedestrian former CP Rail bridge and the downtown CP Rail station.

"The trail would have followed the path of the former rail tracks, preserving this bit of city heritage.

But all the land was, unfortunately, sold to private developers, said Pettypiece, making a new trail now all but impossible.

Some of the landowners are not likely to be moving anytime soon," he added.

While city planners realize that the water treatment plant and industries such as Saputo will likely remain downtown for the long term, the area's redevelopment must be planned for, otherwise it will always remain the same, said Haley Mountstephen, who did not work for the city when this land was sold to private developers.

Hocken believes the city saw a need, at the time, to make some money back.

In any case, she believes there will always be a place in the area's future, for commercial ventures such as Superstore. "You will always need a shopping centre."

Devon Snideman owns an automotive service shop in the area, and wonders if it will fit with the high-density vision.

Snideman also wonders how parking will be handled. Unlike the small vehicles shown in many of the photographic examples of townhouse-style developments, city planners are seeking public input on, Red Deer residents drive big trucks and SUVs, he said. While underground garages could be built, Sniderman predicted "the big hang-up will be parking."

Local residents can comment until June 30 on various visions for the area, and also enter a naming contest for the region online at

Webmaster note: A few minor typos have been corrected in the above article and the subtitle given more prominence than in the original article. A note of clarification: Pettypiece, a railway historian and resident of Red Deer County, does not believe a redevelopment plan for the area is 20 years too late -- only a linear park connecting the Canadian Pacific Railway bridge and station that would have given the area greater railway heritage value. The original right of way, which would have made a natural pedestrian and bicycle pathway from North Red Deer to historic downtown, was sold to local landowners (who are not necessarily developers) making it very difficult for that specific heritage value to be retained.

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: 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)
       News article: Chance of a lifetime (Red Deer Advocate Jan.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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