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Westerner Park shuttles could solve any parking issues at new Red Deer event centre, appeal board hears

Employees could park offsite during large events at Red Deer Resort and Casino
The owners of the Red Deer Resort and Casino appealed a decision that denied their proposal to create a large event centre on the site of two former nightclubs. (Advocate file photo.)

Citing positive impacts and economic spin-off, an owner of Red Deer Resort and Casino made a case for why a 2,000-person event centre should be built on the grounds of two former nightclubs.

“We will be supporting local entrepreneurs, promoting self-sufficiency and… bringing economic prosperity,” O’Chiese First Nation board of directors member Bernadine Coleman, one of the owners of the former Cambridge Hotel, told the Red Deer Subdivision and Development Appeal Board on Monday.

She noted O’Chiese Hospitality Inc. is one of Red Deer’s largest employers, with about 500 staff. Although 63 people were laid off when the former nightclubs were closed, she hopes to hire more people if the event centre can be built.

“We are working hard to be a successful stakeholder,” bringing many benefits to Red Deer and surrounding businesses, she added.

No one spoke in opposition to the event centre development at Monday’s hearing.

Owners of Red Deer Resort and Casino are appealing a March 22 decision by the Municipal Planning Commission to deny their application to build a large on-site event centre as part of the redevelopment of the former Cambridge Hotel and Convention Centre at the corner of 50th Avenue and 32nd Street.

O’Chiese Hospitality Inc. already has permission to move the Jackpot Casino from the downtown to the hotel’s convention site on the southwest side of the property.

The company also want to replace two former nightclubs on the northeast side with a new 3,028-square-metre event centre that can hold 2,000 people.

Although city planners favoured the proposal, MPC rejected it last month, on grounds there would be insufficient onsite parking to accommodate all of the intensified uses.

The property owners wanted a decrease to 551 onsite parking stalls from the minimum requirement of 577 stalls.

On Monday, the appellants put forward a solution to the parking dilemma: They told the appeal board they have arranged to lease up to 300 parking spaces at Westerner Park.

On the busiest special events days, employees of the resort and casino will be expected to park at Westerner Park and be shuttled by buses that run every 15 minutes to the hotel site. The board heard this would free up more parking in front of the resort and casino for customers.

Members of the Red Deer Subdivision and Development Appeal Board were told there will only be about 20 special events a year at the convention site— with the one largest bringing in about 700 people and the smallest about 200 people.

Since the site’s parking requirements are based on the event centre hold 2,000 people, this should not present any problems, said Dennis Haan, president of Eagle Builders, who’s contracted for the project by O’Chiese Hospitality Inc.

He emphasized customers would always have first priority to park onsite at the resort and casino.

In closing remarks, Sam Love, a municipal development officer expressed the one outstanding concern — that the City of Red Deer cannot enforce the hotel’s parking agreement with Westerner Park.

The appeal board has 15 days to provide a written decision on the matter.

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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