Photo by JEFF STOKOE/Advocate staff

Photo by JEFF STOKOE/Advocate staff

City seeking input to redevelop Centennial Park Plaza

A controversial park in downtown Red Deer is up for redevelopment.

A controversial park in downtown Red Deer is up for redevelopment.

The city is seeking the public’s input on how to transform Centennial Park Plaza, south of the downtown McDonald’s Restaurant, into a “sustainable… accessible and safe space that people want to visit and use.”

The park’s wading pool was the subject of complaint last year from a parent who claimed homeless people were using it to wash. City staff responded in August 2015 by saying that the pool with spray fountains was drained every night and conformed to regulations.

But the downtown wading pool, built in 2004, was not filled this summer.

Dave Matthews, the city’s parks planning and technical services supervisor, said this is because new health standards imposed this year require a filtration and treatment system for wading pools and this would entail a costly upgrade.

The pool concept came from a park development plan from 2001. “Was this the right location for a pool? … At the time it was felt to be an appropriate plan,” said Matthews, “but a lot has changed in the city since that time, in terms of social issues,” and the creation of other downtown amenities.

He noted a children’s spray park, more recently built near the museum and Golden Circle Senior Resource Centre, has become very popular with families.

Before investing in a pool upgrade for Centennial Park, Matthews feels it’s time to determined whether people even want a pool there. His department is gathering a public wish list for future features at the site. “We have such a great opportunity… to really find out what kinds of things the community would like to see in a park like this.”

Centennial Park also has the historic Michener foundation and arches, piece of public art, public washrooms, trails and an irrigated landscape.

An unmanned kiosk is being set up at the park until Oct. 4 with informational surveys that can be filled out and deposited into a box.

A public event will also be held at the park from 3 to 6 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 6. City staff and consultants will, in the meantime, be on the streets asking people for their opinions.

For more information about the project and opportunities for feedback, please visit www.reddeer.ca./centennialpark.

lmichelin@redderadvocate.com