Ten years ago I never went downtown, but the investments our city has made are starting to pay off and I now regularly go downtown. In fact I choose to operate my business on Ross Street near the Jackpot Casino; near the bulldozed residential lots that may soon be paved over and made into a sprawling parking lot.
The downtown has been greatly revitalized over the last 10 years!
We know what does not work and we know what does work. Let’s keep the positive momentum going and consider all our options and find a better use for that space than just pavement.
We must be mindful of the bigger picture and the long-term vision to ensure that we continue in this direction and build on the successes of the past.
Our downtown is now more walkable, it is now more interesting and vibrant and it is now more safe. But there is still a lot of potential to be realized and we have a lot of work to do.
The design of our city shapes who we are and how we live. With that in mind, we would be well served to understand that people adapt. If we build a parking lot, people park in it. If we build an apartment, people live in it. If we build a multi-storey, mixed use commercial/residential building with underground parking and a walkable street facade, the entire area will prosper, including the casino.
We should also discuss the sustainability of our tax base. Developed spaces, specifically in our downtown, sustain our city’s tax base. We diminish our tax base by paving over prime real estate to make way for a lower value development?
I will be speaking out against the proposal before city council today for a new parking lot across from the Jackpot Casino. The casino already has a lot of parking available and paving under more of our valuable downtown space would be a tragedy.
When we factor in the potential benefits of cultural vibrancy, environmental sustainability and the supporting tax base to compare our options for the use of that space, almost anything other than a parking lot would be more beneficial for Red Deer!
Our downtown has the potential to really thrive and we have the blueprint and the resources to make that happen. Now all we need is the political will.