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It’s a go: New event centre can be built on Red Deer Resort and Casino site, says appeal board

Some enhanced landscaping conditions will apply
An appeal board has overturned a previous Municipal Planning Commission decision and is allowing O’Chiese Hospitality Inc, the owner of Red Deer Resort and Casino, to build a large new event centre on the site of two former nightclubs. They are slated to be demolished.(Advocate file photo)

A new two-storey event centre can now be built on the site of two former nightclubs, according to a ruling by the Red Deer Subdivision and Development Appeal Board.

In a decision released this week, the appeal board overturned a previous ruling by the Municipal Planning Commission (MPC) that had refused the event centre application put forward by O’Chiese Hospitality Inc.

The question of whether adequate parking could be provided on or near the site at 3310-50th Ave. (now called Red Deer Resort and Casino but formerly known as the Cambridge Hotel) had been a sticking point for MPC. On March 22, MPC did not grant a request to reduce to 551 the 577 needed onsite parking spaces.

Although agents for O’Chiese Hospitality Inc., the owners of Red Deer Resort and Casino, told the appeal board at an April 24 hearing that up to 300 parking spots had been leased at Westerner Park so staff can park there and be shuttled to the hotel on busiest event day, this didn’t influence the board’s decision. Board members had noted that this arrangement cannot be enforced.

However, the appeal board was swayed by the 20 additional street parking spaces that are available on 51st Ave., which would be unlikely to be needed by any other commercial business.

Also factored into the appeal board’s decision was the lack of any opposition to the development from any of the 108 adjacent landowners.

The board gave weight, as well, to a parking study commissioned by the appellants that found the site adequate “and that peak demand may be overstated even during overlapping events at the Events Centre and Casino.”

The study was based on an assumption the new event centre could hold an occupant load of 2,000 people; however, the hotel’s existing events centre (which will be turned into the casino) has never held more than 1,000 people, which would require less parking.

Only 20 special events a year were anticipated at the event centre, each attracting from 200 – 700 people and occupying the event centre from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., which would be outside the casino’s peak hours.

The site must be developed with several conditions set by the appeal board.

These include producing a revised landscape plan that shows enhanced greenery in the parking lot islands, on the grassy area by the building entrance and the adjacent city-owned boulevard.

The O’Chiese Business and Investment Centre was established in 2009 to support local entrepreneurs and create new opportunities to provide a higher standard of living, and a greater sense of self-reliance and self-sufficiency for the First Nations community.

The O’Chiese Business and Investment Centre purchased the hotel property in 2020 to diversify its businesses and investments. The goal is to relocate the O’Chiese-owned Jackpot Casino from Red Deer’s downtown to the site’s current event centre, and to “create an integrated resort atmosphere.” Permission was already obtained to move the casino.

Lana Michelin

About the Author: Lana Michelin

Lana Michelin has been a reporter for the Red Deer Advocate since moving to the city in 1991.
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