City to spend $55,000 on parks-related study

The City of Red Deer will spend up to $55,000 more on studying how to develop parks and protect the natural river valley as the municipality grows.

The City of Red Deer will spend up to $55,000 more on studying how to develop parks and protect the natural river valley as the municipality grows.

On Monday, city council agreed to use money from a reserve fund through Parkland Community Planning Services, the city’s planners.

The money is on top of the nearly $65,000 that has been spent on the River Valley and Tributaries Park Concept Plan.

Community Services director Colleen Jensen said the new plan looks at where Waskasoo Park is now, and where it could go upstream and downstream from the city.

“It puts us in a very good position into where we would locate additional park nodes, land acquisition requirements and what we may need to look at in terms of flood plains and environmentally sensitive areas,” Jensen said later.

The city has been studying the issue with Red Deer County for about a year. Both municipalities agreed within the 2007 intermunicipal development plan to “establish a continuous intermunicipal park system, where possible, focused on the floodways and flood fringes, and other natural areas of Waskasoo Creek, Piper Creek, Red Deer River and Blindman River.”

The study encompasses an area far beyond the recently approved first phase of annexation, which involves just over 7,400 acres.

Area residents would be interested in this study because Waskasoo Park is often categorized as a favourite place to be in Red Deer, Jensen said.

“As Red Deer grows, we’ll be able to continue to expand in a planned manner,” Jensen said.

Jensen expects the study will be done midway through 2010. Public input is still needed.

The additional money was necessary to expand the project’s scope, Jensen added.

More meetings are needed, plus the city needs to align the study with other plans, including an open spaces plan done by Red Deer County.

“It’s not the fault of the consultant, it’s just that it’s expanded in terms of our expectations as we’ve gone through the process,” Jensen said.

Councillor Gail Parks was the sole councillor to vote against the extra funding. While she said she supported the project, she wondered why in less than a year more money was being sought to back it.

“I am not happy that this is happening in the middle of the project,” said Parks.

ltester@bprda.wpengine.com

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