I found one of my columns from Oct. 31, 1989, that described a couple of local issues that were on my radar at the time. The column began from a conversation that I had with a pipe-liner about his gypsy lifestyle.
The guy was always happy when he saw his first highway sign that indicated Red Deer. For him, it was that moment which immediately raised his spirits because “Red Deer has been and always will be his home,” to quote my column.
I know that the guy still lives here all these years later. I agreed with his attitude toward Red Deer but then I discussed issues about this city that rubbed me the wrong way.
“The pace of life in Red Deer moves a lot like the traffic light system. It is slow-paced yet not entirely synchronized enough to make it predictable;” to quote from that 1989 column.
Traffic in Red Deer is much heavier in 2010, but I still question the traffic light system during certain hours of the day.
I took a quick look at downtown Red Deer and commented that the area had parking problems: “Expensive and inadequate parking with short meter times make most people think of one thing: mall.”
That problem has certainly been alleviated by parkades, but, in 1989, I never anticipated that Red Deer would have future downtown problems like violent crime and a hooker stroll.
The Centrium was a future project in 1989. It was definitely a green light for the new arena, but the name caused a stir in 1989. The original name choice was “Centrum” until somebody twigged onto the fact that Centrum was a popular vitamin brand.
I wrote: “There is always room for comedy and mystery in the annals of Red Deer history. The latest chapter involves the new un-built sports arena which was unceremoniously named after a vitamin and later modified into an even goofier name”.
The new name was Centrium and I posed the question: “Do my ears deceive me or does Centrium sound more like a new Buick than a sports arena?”
My point of mystery in the 1989 column was the fact that legendary Red Deer sports builders like the late Dr. Bill Carter were ignored in the arena name process. In 1989, sports arena names were less likely to be sold to the highest bidder.
These days I still believe that doc’s name would look great on the Red Deer Arena because the man was closely associated with that building and hockey, especially the legendary Rustlers.
Then I became a visionary in that column: “The proposed arena opens the door to a grander sphere of showcase events…. Events such as the Brier, the Memorial Cup and large conventions could conceivably wind up in Red Deer.” We are still working on the Memorial Cup, but the World Junior Championship was a huge hockey event here in Red Deer.
Then I became a non-visionary to close out that column. I wanted passenger jet service to Red Deer on major Vancouver-Toronto flights. The runways are still not adequate for passenger jets and the concept is still subject to demand-or lack of same in this area. Some things will probably never change.
Jim Sutherland may be reached at mystarcollectorcar.com