Red Deer’s Ross Street Patio is a popular spot in the summer. City council voted not to keep it open through the 2019 Canada Winter Games. (File photo from Red Deer Advocate)

Council nixes downtown winter patio for 2019 Games

Councillors say plenty of other venues for Games visitors

A winter version of Red Deer’s Ross Street Patio will not be part of the 2019 Canada Winter Games.

Council was divided over whether to leave the patio in place for the Winter Games.

Some saw it as a nuisance for downtown businesses while others saw it as an opportunity to showcase main street Red Deer.

Council voted 6-3 against spending $45,000 to keep the patio in place. In a subsequent unanimous vote, council decided to put $30,000 of those savings into some downtown winter games programming.

The money is part of a budget item worth just over $700,000 over two years to prepare for the Winter Games.

Coun. Wong proposed the motion to drop the winter downtown patio, which he said many businesses did not support.

“Some of the business people can’t wait until the patio is gone,” said Wong.

Wong said the patio would reduce parking in front of businesses at a time when the city is full of visitors. It also restricts traffic.

Coun. Lawrence Lee also did not see a need for the outdoor patio, pointing out the nearby Games Plaza at the former Central Elementary School.

“There are going to be multiple sites around the city that already have the opportunity to create the excitement and the energy.”

Coun. Dianne Wyntjes saw the outdoor patio as a way to showcase the downtown in the winter months.

“It’s an opportunity to focus on what we have,” she said.

When the motion was defeated to keep the patio open through the winter, she called it a “lost opportunity.”

Coun. Buck Buchanan shared her viewpoint.

“We’ve been given a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity here and for a few thousand dollars we’re worried about parking.”

Mayor Tara Veer pointed out that the outdoor summer patio is widely supported by the community, but support for the winter patio idea has been split down the middle.

Other venues, such as the Games Plaza and City Hall Park could offer the outdoor draws for Winter Games visitors without creating a venue some downtown businesses oppose.

The $479,100 in Winter Games spending in 2018 and $232,000 in 2019 covers numerous anticipated costs, such as staff training, event evaluation, emergency preparedness, economic development, community promotion, venue management, communications and cultural programming.

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