City needs to develop character: Curtis

Red Deer must develop a character of its own to become a more memorable and worthwhile place to visit, says its city manager.

Craig Curtis addressing the AGM of Tourism Red Deer.

Red Deer must develop a character of its own to become a more memorable and worthwhile place to visit, says its city manager.

In his first address to the tourism industry since returning two years ago from Owen Sound, Ont., Craig Curtis outlined city council’s plans for attracting more people to visit and stay in Red Deer.

Curtis was Red Deer’s community services director, which including responsibility for tourism, before taking a job as city manager in Owen Sound.

Being in a recession is a great time for planning major projects, Curtis told members of Tourism Red Deer during its annual general meeting on Wednesday.

“There’s a tendency to say, ‘Oh, all those great drawings, what do they really mean? We don’t have any money to do it.’

“But the fact is, now is the time to plan it. The Centrium was planned during recession, and when we came out of the recession, we were able to make the case for our business plan, to get the funding from the province for the 75th anniversary.

“Our 100th Anniversary is not too far down the road.

“We need to think, what magical gift the province could dream up for us.”

Citing planner Glen Murray of Winnipeg, Curtis said that when everything looks the same, there is no such thing as place.

“We’re talking about creating a sense of place. Effective community planning is about combating the geography of “nowhere” and enhancing a city’s unique qualities, said Curtis.

Murray talked about three P’s of getting elected: police, paving and pipes.

Murray also alluded to balancing those three P’s with three others: pride, power and place, said Curtis.

“When you bring visitors to a community, you don’t take them on a tour of the underground sewer system. You do take them to look at the unique attractions and the unique features of your community.”

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