Local briefs – July 30

Two washed-out pedestrian bridges on Piper Creek will be repaired by the end of the summer, says City of Red Deer parks superintendent Trevor Poth.

Bridges under repair

Two washed-out pedestrian bridges on Piper Creek will be repaired by the end of the summer, says City of Red Deer parks superintendent Trevor Poth.

Poth said the city is working with a local engineering company on repairing the bridges. One bridge between Spruce Drive to Kin Kanyon has since been lifted out of the creek following heavier rainfall in mid July. Erosion had caused it to slump into the creek.

“Our next step is to pour concrete abutments for it and then armour it to prevent future erosion,” he said on Thursday.

Poth anticipates the Kin Kanyon area bridge will not reopen until the end of August.

A bridge closest to Rotary Park should be open within a week, Poth said. It has concrete abutments and appears to be structurally sound.

The engineering firm is also checking the city’s other park bridges to make sure they are sound as well.

Poth said the city has also been cleaning up along parks and roadways after about 10 days of winds earlier this month knocked down about a dozen trees.

“We had hundreds of calls from residents about branches being down,” he added. “It really made for a rough start to July.”

The city has contended with much larger devastation left by Mother Nature in the past, he said.

Bashaw man in custody

A Bashaw man remains in custody after he was charged with two counts of robbery with violence earlier this week in Brooks.

Justin Tyrone Whynott, 26, returns to Brooks provincial court Aug. 4 to enter a plea on several charges stemming from the July 26 robberies.

Brooks RCMP said earlier that they responded to a panic alarm at the Heritage Inn and Suites in Brooks around 11:20 p.m.

When police arrived they were advised by the female desk clerk that a man had entered the hotel lobby, approached her from behind, placed an unknown object up to her back, and made a threat towards her.

The clerk allowed the male access to the cash drawer where he grabbed an undisclosed amount of cash and fled.

About 80 minutes later, at 12:45 a.m., RCMP received a second call of a robbery at the downtown Seven 11 Food Stores on 2nd Street West.

The staff at the Seven 11 said a lone male, whose description matched that of the Heritage Inn robbery suspect, entered the business, once again threatened violence toward the female cashier, then fled with an undisclosed amount of money.

A few minutes following the call to Seven 11, RCMP arrested a suspect without incident, in a vehicle on 2nd Street East.

Whynott faces two charges of robbery with violence, uttering a death threat, failing to comply with a probation order and impaired care and control of a motor vehicle.

Whynott is expected to make a bid for bail on Aug. 4.

Downtown grants available

Downtown businesses and social agencies hoping to beef up safety through environmental design can still apply for a grant from the City of Red Deer.

Dean Scott, crime prevention co-ordinator for the city, said the Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design pilot project will provide funding once the business project is complete.

Scott said the city will pay half the expenses before GST for any successful applicant’s crime prevention improvements up to a maximum of $2,500.

“So far, we’ve had eight applications that have received funding, ranging from smaller to larger renovations,” Scott said on Thursday.

He said the principles of the pilot project are proven and effective in many situations and environments to identify and reduce problems that may invite crime.

In 2008, city council approved $50,000 in funding for a crime prevention initiative program for downtown business owners. All downtown businesses and social agencies are eligible to apply.

The $2,500 cap ensures the project funds will be spread around to a minimum of 20 businesses. The program runs until the funds are exhausted.

For more information, visit www.reddeer.ca/crimeprevention or contact 403-342-8387.

Bus terminal opens on Sunday

City transit buses and their passengers will emerge from their new downtown home on Sunday.

Sorensen Station terminal will open for bus business, city Transit Facilities superintendent Steve Parkin said on Thursday.

Transit users will get the jump on motorists, though. The $21.3-million project includes 412 public parking stalls over the existing transit terminal.

The parkade, which is on budget, will not be ready for cars until the end of August.

The station will house public washrooms as well. A customer service centre will open Sept. 1. Riders can buy passes and tickets or ask questions as well as inquire about lost and found items.

Opening ceremonies are set for Aug. 28.

Parkin said no significant changes to route schedules are expected during the move.

Shooting case adjourned

A case involving a shooting at a West Country campground has been adjourned until Aug. 11.

Colin Blackman, 38, of Marsden, Sask., remains in custody in Red Deer on 10 charges stemming from the July 3 incident at a Raven-area campground.

He is charged with using a restricted firearm in a careless manner, two counts of assault, transporting a restricted firearm, pointing a firearm, possession of a restricted firearm with ammunition nearby, possession of a firearm while attempting to commit an offence, possession of a firearm without holding a firearms acquisition certificate and having a restricted firearm within a vehicle.

Police said earlier that a man is alleged to have fired a gun at some people in the campground in the early morning.

Police allege the man had a .45-calibre handgun and pointed the weapon at a man’s head and assaulted him.

Police also said a shot was fired at three people who fled the scene into the bush.

Hotels get dynamic signs approved

Three Red Deer hotels will get to light up with dynamic signs.

City council agreed this week to allow these signs with digital scrolling messages on the property of the Capri Centre, Black Knight Inn and Red Deer Lodge.

Allowing these signs on hotel properties would be an exception to the rule within C4 (major arterial) commercial districts.

Parkland Community Planning Services employee Brandon Silver said earlier there has been no clear consensus on how dynamic signs should be integrated into the Gaetz Avenue streetscape and there will likely not be until the Gaetz Avenue Redevelopment Study is done.

Ray Mitten, sales representative for Red Deer Neon, a division of National Neon signs, told council he’s disappointed that rules over dynamic signs are taking so long to come to fruition.

“It’s taken more than two and a half years to come to this point,” said Mitten.

He said that all large lots, such as dealerships, supermarkets and other hotels like the Holiday Inn on the north end, should receive the same allowance as the three hotels.

“This is a band-aid solution,” said Councillor Larry Pimm. “The band-aid will only hold for a while.”

Connector project hits roadblock

A landowner is holding out as the City of Red Deer prepares to build a major road dubbed the North Highway Connector.

City council agreed this week to start expropriation of land owned by Pact Production Services Ltd.

According to a staff report, the owner of Pact Production Services would only consider an offer of the complete property.

The city is considering taking over the entire parcel.

The North Highway Connector will ultimately be a six-lane expressway linking Hwys 2, 2A and 11A west and north of the city to Hwy 11, east of the city. The first phase includes Northland Drive, which will consist of two lanes extending east from the intersections of Hwys 2A and 11A, across the Red Deer River, to the intersection of 30th Avenue and 67th Street.

Pact Production’s land is located just north of 78th Street Crescent, south of the proposed Northland Drive.

Four of 12 land acquisitions required for this North Highway Connector project have been done to date.

City staff reported it will continue discussions with the landowner and will recommend stopping expropriation if an agreement is reached.

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