Financial boost OK by council

A happier trail is anticipated for the much maligned Heritage Ranch operation as it struggles to maintain viability in the City of Red Deer’s recreational plans.

A happier trail is anticipated for the much maligned Heritage Ranch operation as it struggles to maintain viability in the City of Red Deer’s recreational plans.

City council gave the potential operator for the ranch a financial boost Monday with an increased annual subsidy of $110,000.

That will be added to the already existing $60,000 subsidy.

The subsidy will also apply to the operation in 2011. A review will then take place to determine continued subsidies.

The subsidy was unanimously supported by council but not without warnings from councillors.

The ranch has been a financial drain on city coffers for several years, but the current council and preceding councils deemed the operation worthy of additional financial support.

“The public needs to step up and support this” if it wants to keep it, Councillor Lorna Watkinson-Zimmer said.

“It has a special place in the city and it needs support.”

Councillor Larry Pimm said only a few years ago council chambers was packed with people all clamoring for the city to retain the ranch when it appeared to be going under.

Pimm said he realizes most recreational facilities will never be self sufficient.

The ranch operation is but one of $9 million the city is pumping into upgrades at several recreational parks over the next 10 years.

Recreation, Parks and Culture will focus on the ranch over the next two years, to the tune of $1.3 million. Improvements will be made to signs, roads, the children’s playground, trails and extensive repairs to the building. The equestrian facilities will remain, with even more emphasis on the ranch theme to the facilities, said recreation, parks and culture manager Greg Scott.

A five-year plan is in place that will see marketing strategies to increase the profile of services including on-site food services, meeting, wedding and event packages this year.

Plans are also in the works for creating a market for three special non-equestrian focused events yearly.

l Council passed a resolution to accept waste generated by the County of Red Deer beginning immediately and by the Town of Blackfalds starting in 2011.

l Council passed a resolution to extend the yard waste pickup to the first week in November. It also supported plans to establish another recycling depot at a yet undisclosed Red Deer north location. In addition, the current waste management site just off the Delburne Road, will have an added recycling area located just inside the main gate and before the weigh scales so people won’t have to pay a fee.

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