Future of Riverwalk idea rests with citizens

As chairman of the former Red Deer Chamber of Commerce Tourism Development Committee, I would like to take this opportunity to explain the purpose and the objectives of our committee.

As chairman of the former Red Deer Chamber of Commerce Tourism Development Committee, I would like to take this opportunity to explain the purpose and the objectives of our committee.

Our committee was formed of local citizens to determine if Red Deer had the potential to become a major tourist destination in Alberta.

With encouragement and available funding from the Alberta government Department of Economic Development, we engaged a consultant with expertise in tourism development to research a concept that would attract local and international tourists to Red Deer.

The results of the study recommended the development of a “Riverwalk” concept on the lands occupied by the city public works yard.

The Riverwalk concept would act as a catalyst to encourage the development of a vibrant district in our city.

The area would attract small boutique retailers, arts and cultural venues, restaurants, bars, boutique hotels, entertainment venues, festivals, community events, family activities and residential development.

The study also recommended determining who would develop the concept; determine the cost of the concept and economic benefit to the community.

With the assistance of the Red Deer Advocate, a four-page informative article on the Riverwalk concept was delivered to the community in December 2007. Comments and opinions were requested on the Riverwalk concept; over 80 per cent of the respondents were in support.

The first phase of a second study, to develop the Riverwalk concept and associated preliminary costs, was prepared and funded by the City of Red Deer.

The provincial government (Travel Alberta) has agreed to complete an economic impact study that would determine if the Riverwalk concept would in fact attract tourists to Red Deer and create economic benefit for Red Deer and the province.

The studies that have been completed to date require additional information in order for Travel Alberta to prepare their economic impact study. The Travel Alberta study would provide comprehensive and credible information beneficial to the citizens of Red Deer. This information would enable the community to make a responsible and informative decision regarding the Riverwalk concept.

The availability of the old public works yards has created a one-time opportunity for Red Deer to become a unique and exciting city in Canada.

Our mandate as a committee was to present to the citizens of a Red Deer an exciting and self-supporting concept that would attract visitors to Red Deer and provide economic benefit to Red Deer and Alberta.

Our work as a committee is now complete.

We have recommended to the board of directors of the Red Deer Chamber of Commerce to support the completion of existing studies and to approach the province of Alberta (Travel Alberta) to complete an economic study of the Riverwalk concept.

The decision for a project of this magnitude is yours, the citizens of Red Deer.

Ken Mandrusiak

Red Deer

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