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Interfering with trail access at Michener’s north site troubles city

Red Deer seeks dialogue with province

The City of Red Deer wants residents to know it disapproves of the province’s decision to cut off trail access on the west side of Michener’s north site buildings.

Topping the fence with barbed wire is also a concern.

Alberta Infrastructure is finishing construction of a 2.4-metre security fence with barbed wire around the vacant buildings and adjacent roads for safety and security. Break-ins and vandalism to the buildings has been occurring.

In recent years Michener Services, a long-time facility for the developmentally disabled, closed down its aging north site as its population declined and kept its south site open.

The new fence connects to Gaetz Lakes Sanctuary’s chain-link fence to the west so public access through the site on that side is cut off. People have to go around to the east side of the fenced-off area to travel north or south on the site.

“I’m sure we’ll be getting a number of comments and we need to make it clear that we’ve been advocating for that trail to remain open,” said city manager Craig Curtis.

He said fencing the buildings might be required, but blocking off access to the west was not necessary and it blocks access to the north-south trail system.

“We expressed that concern two weeks ago so (Alberta Infrastructure) has just failed to listen to our concerns on behalf of the community. We anticipated there would be some further consultation or discussion.”

“We’ll be making representation to the province with regard to maintaining that north-south access. It’s only going to be blocked off over a fairly short section, but it is a critical section.”

He said the city also does not permit barbed wire fences within the community. However, the province can overrule the city.

“The original commitment was we would jointly, with the province, plan that site. That has not been happening.”

The city has also expressed concern to the province for some time about the condition of the historic J.J. Gaetz House which has deteriorated significantly, Curtis said.

J.J. Gaetz House, near 36th Avenue (Michener Road) and 55th Street, is an Edwardian-style brick home called Willow Villa, that has been standing empty after being officially mothballed by the province in 2005. Built in 1918, the house is municipally designated historic property.

szielinski@reddeeradvocate.com