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Our Opinion (Editorial)
New idea for Riverlands worth
an Olympic cheer

Opinion reprinted from Red Deer Express (Johnnie Bachusky) February 24, 2010
While Olympians continue their quest for glory this week in Vancouver, there are those in this city and region quietly moving forward with dreams of their own.

Before the recession dropped like a bomb in late 2008 Red Deer was positioning itself for an exciting and prosperous future with ambitious Olympian-like plans for the Riverlands that featured a canal-driven development concept with an ultimate goal of making the city a major tourism destination point.

But after a less than thorough process, the City opted for a Vancouver-imported plan that was less ambitious on the tourism generating scale and more directed towards a glitzy revitalization project for a new Red Deer community.

The latter proposal, while credible, was without any theme that was either historically, culturally or geographically relevant, or even remotely interesting, for the city or anyone visiting.

Now comes an idea from the Forth Junction Heritage Society, which is pitching a concept it believes would be a world-class tourism attractor. And it is certainly interesting, and relevant. The idea is based on a ground transportation theme, particularly the railway and its past and future role in the region. The concept envisions using the Riverlands as its base in the city while stretching into Red Deer County where the municipality is embracing open spaces, trails, and heritage, with the latter underscored by its recent acquisition of the historic Mintlaw trestle railway bridge.

Like the past proponents of the canal idea for the Riverlands, society members are urging the public to think bold and big. They note, even in spite of the recession, the timing is just right to aim for the stars, particularly with Red Deer's 100th anniversary just three years away in 2013.

What should appeal to the many naysayers of the past canal idea is that the society has moved slowly and methodically with its ambitions, and has come up with a plan that is original and relevant, not transplanted from Texas or Canada's west coast.

The society was formed 10 months ago from a group of local transportation historians and model railroaders. There is now a board, society bylaws, business plan, non-profit charity status and a web site. With Paul Pettypiece as president, the society also has credibility.

The early and cautious word from City Hall is that the idea is an interesting one and worth exploring.

While everything at this point is just preliminary, Pettypiece and his people have certainly done their homework, far more so than the well-intentioned proponents of the early canal idea.

And while any refined and final approved concept is still a long ways off it is encouraging to know that dreams of glory, thinking grand and big, are flourishing in this community. Like any great Olympic performance, that is worth celebrating.

News articles about the Forth Junction Heritage Society (more below):
       News article: World-class destination centre still in the works (Innisfail Province Nov.2013)
       Editorial: Praise today's big dream
(Innisfail Province Jan.2012)
       Editorial: Railway concept captures region's uniqueness (Olds Albertan Jan.2012)
       Feature article: Forth Junction targets county
(Mountain View Gazette Dec.2011)
       News article: Forth Junction pulling toward a new station
(Red Deer Advocate Dec.2011)

News articles related to ACR/CPR Mintlaw bridge mentioning the Forth Junction Heritage Society:
       News article: Plans for Mintlaw Bridge waiting on public feedback
(Mountain View Gazette Feb.2012)
       News article: Opposition comes forward to Mintlaw Bridge preservation
(Mountain View Gazette May 2011)
       News article: RD County antes up for Mintlaw Bridge repairs
(Mountain View Gazette Nov.2010)
       News article: Bridging gap between history and disrepair
(Red Deer Advocate Nov.2010)

News article related to regional model and miniature railways mentioning the Forth Junction Project:

       News article: Trains still roll for some
(Red Deer Advocate Nov.2012)

News articles related to historic downtown Red Deer redevelopment mentioning the Forth Junction Project
(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):

       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)

Michael Dawe articles related to regional railway heritage mentioning the Forth Junction Heritage Society:
       Region celebrating century of railroad heritage (Red Deer Express March 2010)
       Mintlaw Bridge essential to region's railroad heritage (Red Deer Express March 2010)


 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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