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Red Deer’s Michener north site land to be remediated, seeded this summer

The plan is to incorporate the site into the City of Red Deer’s park system
Demolition work is completed at the Michener Centre north site, but it still needs to be graded and seeded this summer. (Advocate file photo)

Red Deer’s newest park redevelopment is halfway there.

The former Michener Centre north site has no more buildings, since the structural demolition was completed last fall. But large piles of dirt are still sitting, fenced off, on the section of property the buildings once occupied.

According to Alberta Infrastructure, which is still in charge of this land during its redevelopment, crews will soon start working on land remediation at the site. This will be followed by grading the site and seeding the area for grass.

“This is anticipated to be completed by the end of September. Following the completion of the remediation work, the City of Red Deer will take over maintenance of the site,” said Brendan Procé, communications director for Alberta Infrastructure.

More than $10 million was set aside by the City of Red Deer in 2021 to purchase this 132 acres of mature treed parkland at the top of the Gaetz Lakes escarpment. At the time, city officials said the final price had not yet been determined, and will depend on the state of the land once remediation is done to clear soil of contaminants.

The scenic parcel that abuts the Michael O’Brien Constructed Wetland and the east entry to the Gaetz Lakes Sanctuary, provides connections to the Waskasoo Park and trail system, as well as natural wetlands.

Before 2015, the site was part of the provincial institution for the developmentally disabled. It’s now popular with hikers, dog walkers, runners and cyclists.

City manager Tara Lodewyk confirmed in 2021, while she was the city’s general manager of development, that the park-like setting will remain a natural area and eventually be tied into the city’s trail system. Only the northeast corner of the property has been pegged for the future development of an aquatics centre.

The City of Red Deer will also be taking possession of the historic J.J. Gaetz house, which has been sitting vacant for years on this land. The city plans to preserve this 1918 house, once owned by John Jost Gaetz, the nephew of Red Deer founder Leonard Gaetz, but its future use is yet to be decided.

J.J. Gaetz was a successful farmer and MLA, who donated land for the Red Deer Cemetery and Alberta’s first “Dominion Bird Sanctuary,” now Gaetz Lakes Sanctuary.

City officials have promised to ask Red Deerians for input about how they would like to see this park and house developed.

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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