A golf course redesign and expansion and a clubhouse expansion are on the wishlist for the River Bend Golf and Recreation Society as part of the city’s Draft Master Plan for River Bend Golf and Recreation Area. (Advocate file photo)

A golf course redesign and expansion and a clubhouse expansion are on the wishlist for the River Bend Golf and Recreation Society as part of the city’s Draft Master Plan for River Bend Golf and Recreation Area. (Advocate file photo)

Conflicting priorities for Red Deer’s River Bend Golf and Recreation Area identified in draft plan

Two in-person public input sessions are happening this week

Overcrowding, parking challenges, conflicts between trail users, and lack of washrooms were some of the problems identified by users of the River Band Golf and Recreation Area.

A draft Master Plan for this part of the parks system was created by Expedition Management Consulting after public input was collected through surveys, workshops and consultations with stakeholder groups.

The most “important considerations” identified in the draft plan by members of the public were preserving the natural environment, connecting and educating people about nature and supporting accessibility.

The “top constraints” listed were overcrowding, parking and safety issues with Discovery Canyon, conflicts between different kinds of trail users, a lack of accessible washrooms, tensions between development and environmental concerns and between golf users and drop-in users.

Specific community groups raised specific concerns with sporting groups generally wanting to expand current offerings with better lighting, snow-making capacities and more events.

Naturalist groups wanted to improve protections for natural areas, and preserve them for future generations. “Do not expand the developed footprint of River Bend,” was a comment from the Red Deer River Naturalists.

The Golden Circle Seniors Resource Centre suggested stating shuttle bus access for those who don’t have vehicles.

Input from the River Bend Golf and Recreation Society revealed that top priority enhancements would be expanding the parking lot and Discovery Canyon, adding snow-making infrastructure, and adding some trail enhancements and renovating the mini-links.

Second priority enhancements would be to add a zip-line and high ropes course and outdoor climbing structure as well as a wilderness campground. And third priorities would be to add snowshoe and fat-tire bike trails, a skating track, an improved boat launch, and outdoor wedding stone patio and arbour.

A golf course redesign and expansion and a clubhouse expansion are also on the society’s wish list.

Members of city council and City of Red Deer staff focused on striking a balance between preserving nature and development, maintaining accessibility/return on investment and supporting year-round use.

In response to some of the identified challenges, the draft plan suggests opportunities, such as starting a transit or shuttle service to River Bend, install pay parking or add more parking spots in already disturbed areas, and add new programs and activities in unstructured spaces to attract new visitors and revenue streams.

Anyone interested can register to attend virtual public feedback sessions on Wednesday or Thursday of this week through www.reddeer.ca.

The city is encouraging individuals to fill out the online survey prior to Oct. 11.

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