Trailblazing document

Red Deer’s parkland is anticipated to grow by more than 7,135 acres by the time the city’s population increases to 300,000 in the next several decades.

Roelof Meilink

Roelof Meilink

Red Deer’s parkland is anticipated to grow by more than 7,135 acres by the time the city’s population increases to 300,000 in the next several decades.

The City of Red Deer is working with Red Deer County on extending the city’s popular park and trail system collectively known as Waskasoo Park. On Wednesday, a public open house on the River Valley and Tributaries Park Concept Plan was held at Balmoral Bible Chapel on 55th Street.

The plan was developed to identify lands best suited for potential trails and parks within the city’s growth area, some of which is currently within county boundaries. It’s estimated the city, at more than 89,000 people, could reach 300,000 in about 45 to 75 years.

Besides parkland, the plan proposes 358 km of trails.

It also suggests having 13 park nodes, which are larger gathering areas such as Red Deer’s Bower Ponds. Some of those nodes would occur along the Red Deer River, while others would feature natural areas and passive recreation opportunities.

The estimated 2010 cost to fully develop the parkland and trails is $191 million, or about $52,000 per hectare (2.47 acres).

Red Deer County Mayor Earl Kinsella said this is a plan that will allow prized parkland to be protected as development occurs.

“One of the things you can’t do is develop a green space if you already put a housing complex over (top),” Kinsella said.

County Community Services manager Jo-Ann Symington said the planning tool looks at a time frame of up to 50 years for development.

“We’re not saying we’re going to go build a trail or park through someone’s land tomorrow,” she said. “But as development and annexation occurs, those are things we will take into consideration.”

Dave Kyme attended the session so he could get a close-up look at the concept plan. His farm is 10 km northeast of the city and directly next to the river.

Since he knew parkland development would occur eventually, Kyme said he’s prepared for it to happen.

People can give input on the concept plan during Saturday’s Let’s Talk 2010 session with council and department staff. The event runs 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Parkland Mall.

Red Deer Parks Superintendent Trevor Poth said the plan will likely go forward to city council for consideration in early April.

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