Red Deer’s Great Chief Park is officially under construction

Red Deer’s Great Chief Park is officially under construction

Park is being turned into a host site for Canada Winter Games

Colder than average winter weather isn’t preventing efforts to transform Great Chief Park into a Canada Winter Games event site.

Some trees have already been brought down in the park next to Bower Ponds to allow for a parking lot reconfiguration.

Trucks and other heavy equipment were used to take all the sod and black earth off the football field. This is in preparation for laying down the gravel and sand needed for drainage for the installation of artificial turf, said project superintendent Curtis Martinek, of the City of Red Deer.

The goal is to create a host venue for long-track speed skating during the 2019 Canada Winter Games.

The $10 million construction project includes a new synthetic sports field and a world-class 400-metre speedskating oval. A new larger, three-storey field house/pavilion is also being built, to include a concession, public washrooms, change rooms, meeting space, and timekeeper and media areas.

Martinek said work has already started on the pavilion’s foundations to allow for water, power and heating installations. While there have been some weather-related construction delays, these were built into the schedule, he added. The building is still expected to be ready in the spring of 2018.

But Martinek hopes the football field can reopen by this September, with the synthetic surface allowing play to continue during wetter conditions

The speedskating oval, he anticipates, will be ready by January or February 2018. “There will likely be some kind of test event” next winter, he added, to ensure the oval functions smoothly for long-track speedskating competitions.

Workers are also constructing a new maintenance building at the site.