From improving public safety to sparking cultural vibrancy and economic development, the City of Red Deer is demonstrating its confidence in the downtown by becoming more of a core presence.
The municipality threw open the doors to three new city-funded facilities on Friday in part of the city that has been plagued by social problems and crime.
Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer said the city is taking a leadership role in investing in the downtown, thereby encouraging more private-sector interest and development.
Whenever the city has made any downtown improvements, whether by enhancing Alexander Way or creating a Veteran’s Park on Ross Street, “we see the private sector respond,” said Veer — in terms of new stores and restaurants opening.
She believes the same will happen now that the city is creating new spaces designed to improve key aspects of the downtown.
– To enhance public safety, the city is investing in new home for the Red Deer RCMP downtown patrol on Little Gaetz Avenue — in the same previously derelict building that’s now renovated and occupied by the Downtown Business Association.
Staff Sgt. Jeff McBeth said four dedicated police officers with the BEAT (Business Enhancement Action Team) are working out of that office. With assistance from other police units, they are patrolling downtown streets on foot, bike, two-wheeled motorized Segways and cars, increasing RCMP visibility and developing relationships with businesses.
– To promote economic development, city officials showed off the new street-front location of the land and economic development office. It’s moved into the historic train station at the top of Ross Street — just a short walk from the new Capstone at Riverlands development and the Rail Lands.
Having a presence at the heart of Red Deer increases chances to “interface” with the nearby DBA, business development programs and downtown businesses, said John Sennema, manager of lands and economic development. He believes having an accessible downtown location will help stimulate private investment in Red Deer and rejuvenate the city’s core.
– On the vibrancy front is the spacious Culture Services department, which has relocated to the renovated Central Intermediate School on 49th Avenue. Aside from the wide outdoor plaza that was created for musical performances and celebrations during the recent Canada Winter Games, the heritage building also features slick new spaces for the public to rent for gatherings— or to take arts workshops or dance classes.
“Our Viewpoint (art) gallery is five times bigger than before,” said the city’s culture superintendent, Tara O’Donnell, who hopes the building’s amenities will help attract more city residents.
A public open house of the Culture Services building will be held Friday, July 6, from 5 to 8 p.m. with activities, art exhibits and musical entertainment.