Local briefs – June 1

Free yoga classes will be offered at Kin Kanyon Park over the summer starting today.

Free yoga classes offered this summer

Free yoga classes will be offered at Kin Kanyon Park over the summer starting today.

Bonnee Gregg and Krista VandenBrink, local internationally certified yoga instructors, will lead yogis through a 60-minute practice every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 5:30 p.m. Classes are open to people of all ages and skill levels.

This is the third year that the program is being offered.

“Yoga in the Park offers Red Deerians the perfect opportunity to try yoga for the first time,” said Gregg, who founded Yoga in the Park. “Being outside in the park, in a non-threatening, relaxed environment is a great way to either try yoga for the first time or, if you are an experienced yogi, it’s a great way to continue your practise through the summer months.”

Both Gregg and VandenBrink were trained in India and learned that Karma yoga is a significant part of a traditional yoga practice.

“By offering the program for free, we’re practising Karma yoga — we’re delivering something positive to the community for the benefit of the greater good without concern for personal benefit,” Gregg said.

To take Karma yoga one step further, monetary and gift card donations for the residents of Slave Lake will be accepted tonight and Friday.

Yoga in the Park will be offered every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at Kin Kanyon Park from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. until late August or early September. Classes will be cancelled in the event of rain or other bad weather.

Participants are asked to bring a yoga mat, bottle of water, sunscreen and bug spray.

For more information, visit www.yogaintheparkrd.com, join the Facebook group or follow Twitter @yogaintheparkrd.

Park development honoured with planning award

A plan outlining future development of parks and trails within Red Deer has received a coveted national award in planning.

The Canadian Institute of Planners recognized the City of Red Deer’s River Valley and Tributaries Park Concept Plan within the category of Recreation Planning.

The award credits the plan with excellence, innovation, contribution to the body of professional knowledge, implementation potential and presentation.

The plan identifies lands best suited for potential trails and parks with a focus on extending Red Deer’s existing Waskasoo Park system.

“This award reconfirms the importance of proactive planning when it comes to parks and open spaces in the city’s future growth areas,” said city manager Craig Curtis.

“We are lucky to have a park system that is well integrated with our waterways, and this concept plan helps ensure we maintain this connection as we move forward to develop future parks and open spaces.”

City of Red Deer’s Parks superintendent Trevor Poth said the plan will ensure long-term public access to the Red Deer River and tributary creeks while continuing to protect the natural ecosystems.

The concept plan was referenced within amendments to the Intermunicipal Development Plan adopted in August 2010 and used by both the city and Red Deer County.

“This award is a great example of regional co-operation between our two municipalities,” said Red Deer County manager Curtis Herzberg. Besides the city and county’s involvement, consultants from 02 Planning and Design Inc. based in Calgary and Victoria were also involved.

Community involvement was also an essential part of the plan development process.

Recreation facilities improving registration, payment system

Recreation facilities throughout the city will be upgrading their program registration and payment server system on June 9, which will cause a few interruptions.

Staff will try to ensure as little business disruptions as possible, however, cashiers will have limited access to some computer transactions on this day.

The following service interruptions are expected:

• Cashiers will not be able to register for programs, modify registrations or print program receipts, as they will not have access to the program registration system.

• Cashiers will not be able to renew memberships or sell new memberships or punch passes.

• Customers will not be able to book facilities or make chances to facility bookings.

• Cashiers will take payments for facility admissions and residents are encouraged to pay with cash or debit. Credit card purchases will be possible but will be processed manually.

• Facility users will still be able to use their membership cards or punch passes during this time.

The city’s online look n book program registration system will also be out of service on June 9 as part of this upgrade.

Users can access the new look n book site on June 10 at www.reddeer.ca/looknbook.

For more information, please contact the Recreation Department at 403-309-8411.

Veer wants fewer lights on ring road

A Red Deer city councillor is keen to make sure Red Deer’s future ring road has few traffic lights.

Tara Veer said it’s important that 20th Avenue operate as a ring road and not as one where drivers will have to stop and start along the way.

“My concern is that it’s not actually an expressway because there are many traffic lights proposed along that route,” said Veer.

She received council support on Monday to seek a staff report by Sept. 30 on possible ways to cut traffic lights.

Councillor Chris Stephan suggested that roundabouts, a modern form of traffic circles, play a role. He recently visited Australia where these were immensely popular.

The road, 20th Avenue, will be a part of a larger project dubbed the north highway connector.

This connector will link four highways and travel through the river valley, crossing over a new bridge and an overpass over CN Rail tracks. It will be six lanes at some points. When the north highway connector is finished in the next 30 years, drivers will be able to travel from Hwy 2 and eastbound along Hwy 11A — a road that is already there but which would see upgrades, including a bridge over the railway crossing.

This major truck route is expected to relieve Gaetz Avenue congestion, and connect residential and commercial development in the city’s northeast with major employment areas in the northwest.

Union plans information picket

Alberta’s largest union will hold an informational picket outside Red Deer’s Extendicare Michener Hill on Thursday in support of the nearly 300 employees at the continuing care facility.

The Extendicare employees, belonging to AUPE Local 047 (Chapter 021), voted to strike if necessary during an all-day vote on May 6 in Red Deer.

Negotiations between Extendicare Canada Inc., and the AUPE to reach a collective agreement have been ongoing since November 2010.

Potential job action by the Extendicare employees was stalled on May 19, when the Alberta Minister of Employment and Immigration issued a Disputes Inquiry Board to the situation, temporarily removing the right for the Michener Hill workers to strike until July.

“We’re concerned Extendicare will not bargain seriously as long as they can depend on the government to intervene and protect them from the consequences of an unfair and disrespectful offer to their employees,” Smith said.

The picket will be held on Thursday at 3:15 to 4:15 p.m. at Extendicare Michener Hill at 12 Michener Blvd.

Country contributes toward Scotties tourney

Scotties Tournament of Hearts has landed $30,000 in support from Red Deer County.

The 2012 Canadian Women’s Curling Championship will be taking place at Westerner Park from Feb. 18 to 26.

Trina Joly, 2012 Scotties event manager, told county council on Tuesday that excitement is already building for the event, which was last hosted by Red Deer in 2004.

It took less than six weeks to recruit 500 volunteers for the event and more than 1,500 tickets have already been sold.

Bob More, vice-chairman of hosting, said the 2004 event raised $300,000, of which $207,000 went to the Red Deer Curling Centre and the remainder was doled out to area curling clubs.

The event drew 113,000 spectators and organizers hope to top that number next year.

Sixty hours of live TV coverage is planned, which will put the focus on the entire region. About $8 million to $10 million in economic spinoffs are expected.

County Mayor Jim Wood said the TV coverage will be a huge benefit to the whole area.

“When we think about economic development, this is extremely important,” he said. “If one business came in because of this, it would more than pay our investment back.”

Councillor Philip Massier said he didn’t like using tax dollars to support these kinds of events but was swayed by the amount of money that came back to area junior curlers in 2004.

City looking at resources needed for snow, ice removal

Details on how best to review the City of Red Deer’s snow and ice control policy have been ironed out.

On Monday, city council approved the project’s terms of reference.

The last time a review of the policy was done in 2005.

Public Works manager Greg Sikora said council has directed staff to look at what resources his department may need for proper snow and ice removal.

“They’ve also asked us to look into what additional resources may be required to increase the level of service in residential areas,” said Sikora outside council chambers.

As well, staff will look into whether snow removal should be increased on sidewalks.

The Public Works department will present a report to council in October on options for possible policy revisions, resource requirements, budget impacts, and future consideration of trails and transit stops.

The review comes as a result of discussions during 2011 operational budget talks in January. Red Deer residents have also voiced concerns about snow clearing coming too late to residential areas.

Right now, the policy shows that snow clearing off these streets is the last priority for crews.

“We’ve already been proceeding from the initial budget discussions and have been looking at our baseline costs,” said Sikora. “We’re now making sure that we’re in line with council, so that when we present in October, we’re doing exactly what they want.”

The city’s Recreation, Parks and Culture Department will also conduct a pilot project later this year to clear some trails of snow along the river valley.

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