A better heritage

The City of Red Deer is looking to invest millions of dollars in upgrades at a horseriding recreation area on Red Deer’s west end.

Mothers play with their children in the Heritage Ranch playground as cyclists come off the path bridge Wednesday.

The City of Red Deer is looking to invest millions of dollars in upgrades at a horseriding recreation area on Red Deer’s west end.

ISL Consulting of Edmonton is studying how best to improve Heritage Ranch so that it becomes more of a family destination.

Consideration to revamp the area began with the 2005 Waskasoo Park Special Gathering Places Study, also done by ISL.

It reviewed use at Heritage Ranch and three other parks — Bower Ponds, River Bend and Three Mile Bend.

In late 2005, a petition to save the equestrian area was launched after ISL suggested the equestrian facility be turned into a $1.9-million ecological centre. More than 11,000 people signed.

A park redevelopment plan was later created. It gave recommendations such as parking upgrades, enhanced trails, construction of a playground, building upgrades, plus gazebos and an outdoor classroom.

“We have now gone back to the consultant ISL to look at the initial work that was done, but also relook at the equestrian piece and the facilities and park area,” said Recreation, Parks and Culture manager Greg Scott.

ISL will look at the current centre and how programs are delivered and whether a small addition is needed. A site plan will be created and a report drafted. It will then go forward to a public meeting in late June or early July, and later to council.

“We’re looking at Heritage Ranch as being one of our main entrances into (Waskasoo) Park,” Scott said. “Signage, lighting and outdoor furnishings are being considered. . . there really won’t be significant change to the area.”

Scott stressed that the horseriding venue, including wagon rides, will stay.

The overall project cost is estimated at $3.7 million and includes city servicing to Heritage Ranch and neighbouring Sports Hall of Fame and the Red Deer Visitor and Tourism Centre, all of which are presently within Red Deer County boundaries. A total of $1.8 million has been approved through past and current municipal budgets.

City council endorsed this week applying for $1 million under the new federal Recreation Infrastructure Canada grant program.

“If successful, this would be a significant help to us with the continuing work at the ranch,” Scott said.

ltester@bprda.wpengine.com

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