Parks system getting major upgrade

Upgrading interpretive signs, exhibits and other features throughout Waskasoo Park may see the City of Red Deer borrow $1.7 million to do the project.

By LAURA TESTER

Advocate staff

Upgrading interpretive signs, exhibits and other features throughout Waskasoo Park may see the City of Red Deer borrow $1.7 million to do the project.

Red Deer city council gave first reading on Monday to borrow $1.7 million for the project that’s expected to run to $1.85 million in total. The rest of the money would come from reserves.

Of the $1.7 million, $586,000 was approved as part of the 2012 capital budget. The remainder would be approved as part of the 2013 budget.

Kristina Oberg, acting manager for Recreation, Parks and Culture, said work on a Waskasoo Park Interpretive Master Plan was launched last summer and will include updating Kerry Wood Nature Centre, Fort Normandeau and throughout the park along the river and creek bed.

The plan may include self-guiding trails, interpretive panels, exhibits, multimedia, interactive media and activity programs.

Some of the project will include replacing signs and exhibits at different venues, likely over several years.

This master plan will replace the current Waskasoo plan, which is more than 25 years old.

The cost of doing the master plan is about $150,000 and is part of the overall $1.85 million.

“We want to make sure we’re interpreting parts of the park that people are really interested in, that we haven’t missed anything,” said Oberg.

She said the plan will include information on environmental stewardship for the first time.

This information may centre on how to protect animals, plants and other parts of the park.

“And how people are impacting on the environment,” said Oberg. “There are certain parts of the park that are very accessible like trails. There are certain parts of the park where we try to keep at a very high level of preservation. We’re trying to educate the people so they feel like the park is theirs.”

A consulting team and a steering committee have held a workshop with park stakeholders, reviewed a variety of related plans and research sources, toured Waskasoo Park sites and held a number of planning meetings.

The project will broaden to include input from Waskasoo Park visitors and Red Deerians in general.

Oberg said a website will be created, plus an online survey. A public open house will be held in mid-February at Kerry Wood Nature Centre.

The master plan is expected to be done by June, Oberg said.

ltester@bprda.wpengine.com

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