A Red Deer woman is urging the city to hold more public meetings on the significant changes coming to Taylor Drive and Alexander Way in order to avoid a situation like the controversial bike lane project.
Shirley Hocken said she understands the city has held open houses and public consultations on the Taylor Drive Concept Plan (43rd Street to Ross Street) and the Riverlands Area Redevelopment Plan, but she feels more is needed to keep the public informed about the potential impacts.
“This summer when we had all the deal with the bike lanes, many people felt they weren’t part of the decision or they didn’t know anything about it,” said Hocken. “Consequently people were in an uproar.”
Hocken said decisions are made about two years in advance and lots of times people do not remember what’s in store or why the decisions were made.
Hocken said not everyone has access to the Internet and it would be helpful if the city included information postcards with the utility bills on the changes.
“It’s going to be significant,” said Hocken. “It is taxpayers’ dollars that are being spent and if there are concerns that people have they should have the right to say something again.”
Hocken said it is never too late to make changes to a plan.
The Riverlands plan projects turning the former industrial and business area into a thriving place of mixed uses, including housing, various civic and cultural facilities, storefronts, public art and gathering plans
Some of the key elements of the plans are to create an all-turns traffic intersection at Alexander Way (48th Street) and Ross Street and will feature a wide pedestrian promenade connecting Riverlands to the downtown.
There will also be changes along Taylor Drive, including an all-turns access to Alexander Way and Taylor Drive.
When the city held consultations last year on the Riverlands Area Redevelopment Plan, the Taylor Drive Concept Plan was part of the discussions.
There was consultation and presentations on the Riverlands ARP and the Taylor Drive Concept Plan.
“They were well attended,” said Charity Dyke, the city’s Greater Downtown co-ordinator.
“We had high numbers, including the last consultation right in the Riverlands District. We had probably about 130 people at that open house.”
Dyke said as the city moves forward on the Riverlands and Taylor Drive plans, there will be more communication with citizens.
“There will definitely be some community impacts when we start doing construction in that area,” said Dyke.
“There will be significant communication out to the community as we do that.”
Next summer, city crews are expected to begin the underground work along parts of Taylor Drive.
As part of the recent 2013 capital budget deliberations, council approved $5.7 million for improvements to Alexander Way and Taylor Drive intersection.
Council previously approved $14.1 million for the Taylor Drive and Ross Street improvements.