Help add a little history to the Arches project

The Central Alberta Historical Society is looking for help on a major downtown project to honour the city’s past.

A pedestrian passes the arches on Alexander Way.

The Central Alberta Historical Society is looking for help on a major downtown project to honour the city’s past.

Eight arches are in place at Centennial Park Plaza and the final phase of the roughly $240,000 project involves the placement of 27 plaques on the nine pillars supporting the arches that surround a historic fountain.

Sheila Bannerman, president of the historical society, said constructing the arches in the new park at 48th Street and 52nd Avenue cost more than expected so the society is turning to the community to sponsor the plaques on the feature meant to evoke a railway roundhouse.

“We will be looking to sell subscriptions through the Arches Fund that will help cover the cost of the plaques. We are working on putting together a pamphlet that will be presenting to various individuals and organizations to see if they would like to donate.”

Each subscription will be for one plaque. And as that subscription comes in, that plaque will be done and mounted on the arches.

“We’re kind of looking at it as a representative walking tour of Red Deer history. Each plaque will represent a significant era.”

A committee has been set up to work out designs and content of the etched metal plaques and to set prices. Exactly what will go on each panel has not been determined. They may feature historical photos or artists’ impressions of Red Deer of yesteryear, or both.

“It’s pretty much in the exploratory stages for that. We’re trying to stay away from representations of individuals because it would be basically impossible to represent all of the important individuals in Red Deer history.”

How long it takes to finish off the project will depend on the success of the subscription drive.

“Basically, it’s something that will be a good long-term project, in terms of both history and art. We don’t want to rush it. We want to make sure, because it’s going to be there for a long time, that it will be really worth going and having a look at.”

City parks superintendent Trevor Poth said tenders have just gone out on concrete work for the site and if all goes well, landscaping can be completed and the fountain hooked up by the end of October. It is estimated that work will cost $75,000 to $100,000.

The Arches project has been funded through local donations, contributions from the city and grants from the province and CP Rail. For information, call Bannerman at 403-347-7873.

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