City of Red Deer Recreation and Parks employees Bree Watts, left, and Kianndra Uchtenhagen clear trees that fell across the bike path near Lindsay Thurber High School during the windstorm this week. (Photo by Jeff Stokoe/Advocate staff)

City workers race to clear Red Deer park trails for weekend events

Penhold, Red Deer County and RCMP pitch in with clean-up

Most Red Deer parks and trails remain closed as city workers tackle unprecedented tree damage caused by the wind storm — with help from contractors, police and other area municipalities.

Red Deer County, Penhold and the RCMP are lending City of Red Deer staff a hand with the massive clean-up effort to try to get some parks reopened for weekend events, such as the Woody’s Triathlon, said city spokesperson Julia Harvie-Shemko.

“This is something we haven’t seen before,” she added. Despite the extra help with clearing debris, “there’s incredible damage… but we’re working as fast as we can.”

There are no estimates yet on how long park clearing will take. Harvie-Shemko advised events participants to check event websites to ensure they are still going ahead in the planned locations.

Although trails near Lindsay Thurber Comprehensive High School and Michener Centre remained littered on Thursday with fallen trees and branches from Tuesday evening’s storm, organizers of Woody’s Triathlon were still confident their Saturday and Sunday events will run for 500 participants from across Alberta.

“I was talking to (city representatives) this morning and they said we’re on the list… As far as I’m concerned, it’s going ahead,” said race director Shaun Richer.

Foam Fest is also still planning to hold its obstacle race Saturday at Heritage Ranch, according to information on its website.

Harvie-Shemko advised city residents to stay away from the Waskasoo Parks system until further notice to avoid hazards, such as obstructed paths and the possibility of falling branches. “The parks might not look dangerous, but there are some branches that are hanging,” she said.

“We’re getting more gusts of wind today,” so area residents should avoid the potential for injury.

The only city parks open, so far, are Riverbend Golf Course (except for the pitch and putt area), Discovery Canyon, the Oxbows off-leash dog park, and Great Chief Park.

Red Deer city workers have already removed trees from major traffic corridors, such as Ross Street, and collector roads. They are now focusing on clearing residential streets — about 40 per cent still have debris, said Harvie-Shemko. Broken trees and branches will then be cleared from city boulevards.

Updates on Red Deer’s state of emergency can be found at reddeer.ca.

lmichelin@reddeeradvocate.com

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