Mayor Ken Johnston

Advancements happening in north Red Deer

Hello Red Deer, thank you for taking the time to read this monthly feature. I am once again so pleased to be able to connect and share information with you in this way, and I look forward to continuing to share important updates with you each month here, thanks to the Red Deer Advocate.

For the month of February, I am going to focus on some of the exciting developments taking place in north Red Deer. From expanded recreational opportunities, to annexation, there is no shortage of advancements happening north of the river.

Last week, City Council passed a resolution endorsing a Notice of Intent to Annex. This essentially begins a formal annexation process for the land north of the Queen’s Industrial Business Park and west of Highway QEII. This small-scale annexation, encompassing approximately 137 hectares, addresses the city’s deficiency in highway fronting commercial land in the north.

This annexation responds directly to the economic development opportunity in that area, and will attract and retain business investments, create employment opportunities, and boost the economy. Commercial development along Highway QEII leverages Red Deer’s central location and contributes to the growth and diversification of Red Deer’s economy, while also positioning our city as a long-term economic hub. City Council and I are grateful to Red Deer County for their collaboration and trust, and we look forward to seeing the development and opportunity that this area brings.

Another development that was announced late in 2021 is the new therapeutic community, a new facility that will be home to 75 treatment beds and will provide long-term residential treatment to individuals struggling with addiction. The provincial government identified 10 acres of land located approximately one kilometre north of Highway 11A and Gaetz Avenue, directly adjacent to Highway 2A, in the Chiles Industrial Park. This site respects the anticipated needs of future clients who are being treated for their addictions, while considering the needs of businesses and the entire community. This location also repurposes underutilized public lands.

Recovery communities, also known as therapeutic communities, differ from other treatment programs in that they revolve primarily around gradual and holistic approaches. Through clinical and peer interventions, the ongoing process leads to cognitive changes that aim to improve a person’s overall well-being, such as social relationships and employment skills. The community is expected to be completed by fall of 2022, and once operational, it is estimated 100 jobs will be created to support the recovery community.

Shifting to an expansion project, the G.H. Dawe Community Centre Project will bring some much-needed upgrades to the existing G.H. Dawe Community Centre. This project is intended to ensure we can continue to meet our community’s recreation and fitness needs into the future.

The project includes modernization of the existing ice surface to NHL standards, addition of a second ice surface, addition of a north entrance to the building, site access off 67 Street, improved site traffic flow, additional parking on the north side of the site, expansion of fitness and programming space (including a running track), and an outdoor spray park and washroom facility on the northeast quadrant of the property.

In January, a significant piece of work was completed with the removal of a large precast beam in the existing front desk area. If you visit the facility, you’ll see temporary shoring posts in place in this area; these were installed to support the roof so that the beam could be demolished. A new steel beam will go in its place very soon and the temporary shoring will be removed. As of right now, foundations are complete, with precast panels on the way. The building is really starting to take shape!

Earlier this year, we reached out to residents to help us understand what fitness amenities and experience citizens are looking for from the new G.H. Dawe Community Centre. Our administration heard lots of great suggestions and we thank everyone who participated. Plans are now being developed for the fitness areas.

With the Kinex Arena nearing the end of its useful life, the G.H. Dawe Community Centre project was prioritized to maintain the number of ice surfaces available to our community. It was prioritized to balance equitable ice distribution, geographical needs, and recreation opportunities across Red Deer, while considering the need to provide flexible and unstructured activities in a sustainable way.

Construction on the project started in May 2021. It is anticipated that the project will be completed by late 2022, with a planned opening for January 2023. The project is being funded jointly by the federal, provincial and municipal government. Council and I look forward to seeing this development come to fruition not only for the residents in the area, but for all the community who rely on recreation and wellness amenities.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention a project announced in January that is near and dear to my heart. 2022 marks the Year of the Garden, and those of you who know me, know how I feel about gardening. In August 2021, City Council declared 2022 the Year of the Garden in conjunction with the Canadian Garden Council. This celebration is an opportunity for Red Deerians to get out into their own gardens or visit some of our many natural and man-made green spaces.

We know that throughout the pandemic, many Red Deerians, including myself, took to the outdoors to boost their mental and physical well-being. I’m excited to highlight some of the special places in our beautiful city as a part of the Year of the Garden, and hopefully inspire Red Deerians to try their hand at gardening – a passion of mine!

Throughout the year, we will be working with many community partners and local organizations to ensure Red Deerians have plenty of opportunities to participate in and learn about gardening, food production, landscaping, caring for green spaces and more. From home gardens to community spaces, pollinators to parks and everything in between, it’s a year to celebrate the great outdoors.

So many great things on the horizon, as we navigate our way through the first part of 2022 not knowing exactly what our future holds. I know for certain that Council and I are looking forward to the opportunities and challenges ahead as we refine and establish our Strategic Plan, which we will be bringing to you very soon.

Thanks again for your time, and I look forward to seeing you, hearing from you, and connecting with you all in the near future.

Mayor Ken Johnston