(Contributed image).

(Contributed image).

Some proposed River Bend developments must be weighed against ecological impacts: report

Report to guide River Bend’s future accepted by Red Deer city council

Red Deerians love River Bend Golf and Recreation Area pretty much the way it is.

That was the conclusion drawn by consultants after a lengthy public consultations process to determine the future for the 420-acre multi-use area.

The resulting River Bend Golf and Recreation Area Master Plan, as compiled by Expedition Managment Consulting, was accepted by Red Deer city council on Monday — after some “tweaking” by Coun. Vesna Highham, as well as a lengthy deliberation about how her proposed amendments could proceed.

The consultant’s report gave some suggestions for future developments at River Bend. But Higham, who sits as council’s representative on the River Bend board, thought some of the recommendations were too prescriptive and others needed to be reworded.

The document’s main conclusion is that Red Deerians “love” River Bend and are very concerned with preserving a fine balance between nature and multipurpose human activities in this area.

While environmental protection rates high on the list, so does making safety improvements, such as creating safe pedestrian access, larger parking, and possibly supporting safe ski trails by adding snow-making equipment, the report states.

Coun. Michael Dawe expressed concern that some possible developments will conflict with environmental priorities. For instance, installing snow-making machinery to improve ski trails could be loud and intrusive for wildlife, he added.

Besides this, the report also suggested relocating a maintenance building to enlarge the parking lot, building new washrooms to improve visitor amenities at the boat launch, enhancing all-season activities, including making the perimeter trail a full loop, and redeveloping the concession to include change rooms at Discovery Canyon.

Adding a “19th hole” at the golf course, which could be looped in for play if another hole needed to be off-limits, was also proposed.

The consultants acknowledged that some of these changes could conflict with ecological concerns. But council was told it would be up to River Bend’s operators to weigh needs, versus impacts, before deciding whether to go forward with anything new.

Mayor Ken Johnston called the consultant’s report a planning tool. “At the end of the day, it is a city amenity” and it will be developed with council’s vision, he added.

The full plan can be seen at reddeer.ca.

Red Deer City Council

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