New plan for Heritage Ranch

The City of Red Deer will embark on a 10-year plan to boost the popularity of an underused recreational and equestrian area.

The City of Red Deer will embark on a 10-year plan to boost the popularity of an underused recreational and equestrian area.

On Monday, city council unanimously endorsed Heritage Ranch 2009 Concept Plan, which will be used to guide future development on the 215-acre parcel immediately east of the Tourism Red Deer/Alberta Sports Hall of Fame centre along Hwy 2.

The plan looks at adding programs such as camping, upgrading the ranch’s visitor centre, using large gateway signs and other promotional features, improving vehicle and pedestrian access, and keeping the horseriding component.

The capital costs are estimated at $4.4 million, including $1.7 million for adding utilities to the visitor centre, the operator’s residence, and the Alberta Sports museum and Tourism Red Deer. Improvements to the centre and the utility servicing could begin in 2010.

The overall concept is designed to encourage more use by residents and out-of-town users.

“This is a beautiful area — and it’s underutilized,” said Councillor Tara Veer.

The plan follows a 2005 Special Gathering Places Study, which recommended phasing out the equestrian programs. A public uproar over losing the horses led to the new consultants’ report.

ISL Engineering and Land Services suggests expanding the equestrian programs so that medium-sized groups could hold functions that combine horseback or trail rides with meetings or social functions.

As part of the Heritage Ranch visitor centre renovations, the meeting room would be expanded so up to 80 people could be there instead of 50.

“When people wanted to hold a party or a meeting there, there were two constraints — the meeting room wasn’t big enough and there were pillars all in the middle of it,” said Mayor Morris Flewwelling.

The plan suggests getting rid of the columns, but not changing the upstairs lounge or the outside decks.

“I think you will have a much more functional building,” said Flewwelling.

Councillor Larry Pimm said the structural improvements are important, but cautioned against making the area too busy.

“Natural areas wear thin,” he said.

The plan also recommends minor upgrades to the operator’s residence, used by the person who cares for the horses and provide security.

It also suggests maintaining the lower lands for horse use, and maintaining trails for walking and cross-country skiing in that area.

Other recommendations include — designated area for outdoor education programs and/or group camp area; having a playground and bookable group picnic sites; and adding a scenic wooded gazebo and ornamental planting.

“Access to the park is awkward because you have to access it from a residential area or from the highway,” said Veer. “Those are two challenges we don’t necessarily have any control over changing, but (pedestrian and vehicle) access within the park is very awkward.”

Veer would like to see improved access to the lower lands, such as having regular wagon rides to the area.

“It’s a steep slope going down to there,” she said.

The plan suggests improving access from the Sports Hall of Fame and Tourism Red Deer. The operators of these are working on a study related to creating a road access from their parking lot and connecting it to Cronquist/Webster Drive.

Also recommended are larger signs, including an entrance feature located at the south entrance to the site and visible along both Webster and Cronquist Drives.

The feature will have a heritage theme and included a wood care and a windmill.

Other council news:

• Council gives first reading towards changing a land use bylaw concerning escarpment areas

• Council supports rezoning of land on 19th Street and 40th Avenue so that the city’s second off-leash dog park can go in

• Riverside Meadows Area Redevelopment Plan is supported

• Council endorses an updated market analysis of commercial needs prior to further planning of “town centre districts”

• Changes are made concerning appeals at a city committee level, and three committees are added to the Committees Bylaw

Just Posted

Cannabis legalization won’t impact one Red Deer pot dispensary

Nothing changes for Compass Cannabis Clinic in Red Deer despite legalization

Cannabis retail store will open later in October in Red Deer

Two cannabis stores coming to downtown Red Deer

Neighbours drop opposition to Red Deer County communications tower

Communication tower to be located in Balmoral Heights

Legal cannabis comes with many unknowns: Red Deer County councillors

Councillors question how rural municipalities will be able to enforce cannabis regulations

Kitten season puts pressure on Red Deer shelter

More public education needed to control cat population

WATCH: Two weeks away from Canadian Finals Rodeo in Red Deer

In just two weeks, Ponoka’s Shayna Weir will compete with the best… Continue reading

Wickenheiser, Pegula reflect NHL’s trend toward diversity

BUFFALO, N.Y. — With a laugh, Kim Pegula’s competitive nature kicked in… Continue reading

Harry and Meghan bring rain to drought-stricken Outback town

DUBBO, Australia — The Duke and Duchess of Sussex were jokingly thanked… Continue reading

TV Review: A Roseanne Barr-less ‘The Conners’ is a triumph

NEW YORK — Can there be a “Roseanne” without Roseanne? The answer… Continue reading

Canadian manufacturing sales fell 0.4 per cent in August: Statistics Canada

OTTAWA — Statistics Canada says manufacturing sales fell 0.4 per cent to… Continue reading

Brian Mulroney joins board of directors of New York-based pot company

NEW YORK — Former prime minister Brian Mulroney is joining the board… Continue reading

Canadians waking up to legalized cannabis: ‘My new dealer is the prime minister’

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — Canadians across the country woke up to legalized… Continue reading

B.C. man accused of swimming naked in Toronto shark tank arrested in Thunder Bay

THUNDER BAY, Ont. — Police have arrested a B.C. man who is… Continue reading

‘Start low, go slow’: Experts walk bud beginners through cannabis 101

With the countdown to cannabis legalization Wednesday ticking towards 4-20, some novice… Continue reading

Most Read