Westerner, city work on deal

A proposed 50-year agreement between the City of Red Deer and Westerner Park is expected to further transform the region’s biggest convention grounds into a year-round, pedestrian-friendly activity centre.

A proposed 50-year agreement between the City of Red Deer and Westerner Park is expected to further transform the region’s biggest convention grounds into a year-round, pedestrian-friendly activity centre.

City council will be asked on Monday to approve an agreement that would run until May 31, 2059. The agreement will replace nine existing agreements and will allow for Westerner Park to easily move forward with its Strategic Development Plan released in 2008.

Created with the help of the city and Red Deer County, this is the first such plan in Westerner Park’s 117-year history. It looks at ways to physically expand the facilities over the next 20 years, with a further vision to 2048.

The intention is to transform Westerner Park “from a parking lot into a park.”

Some expansion has already been done, including a new administration centre that was officially unveiled earlier this month.

Possible additions include new transit stops, additional green space of 115 acres, additional 2,000 seats in the 6,000-seat Centrium, a new conference centre, extra 85,000 square feet of trade and exhibition space — all by 2018. By 2028, there may be a hotel on site and a new “agricultural experience” area.

A new Centrium and adjoining hotel, new agricultural arena, plus retail businesses and restaurants could be erected by 2048.

Within the short 10-year plan, Westerner Park hopes to build a pedestrian promenade directly west of the Centrium. The plan says it “will be animated with vertical elements and lighting and can act as a ceremonial route and meeting place for visitors.”

The concept also embraces greening the site through the use of sustainable technologies like solar energy.

Overall, the expansion is focused on the existing site of about 115 acres and the adjoining former landfill site, also 115 acres. The city will retain the northeast quadrant of the landfill site where it will manage a conservation area/park space and dog off-leash area.

Although the city owns the land, Westerner Park is responsible for the overall operation and maintenance except for the Piper Creek natural area and off-leash dog park. All future work must be conform with the city’s land use bylaw and be consistent with the strategic development plan.

ltester@bprda.wpengine.com

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