Council set to discuss parks master plan

A road map for developing Red Deer’s parks and natural spaces over the next several decades will come to city council on Monday.

A road map for developing Red Deer’s parks and natural spaces over the next several decades will come to city council on Monday.

The updated Waskasoo Park Interpretive Master Plan will be in front of civic leaders after consultants began working on the project earlier this year.

Waskasoo Park stretches almost continuously along the Red Deer River banks from River Bend Golf Course and Recreation Area in the northeast to Fort Normandeau in the west. It includes thousands of hectares of park space and 100 km of trails while following the river and Waskasoo and Piper creeks.

Eventually, it will be expanded as the city grows so there’s a need to update the existing plan, which is more than 30 years old.

The plan identifies budgeting $1.58 million for improvements at Kerry Wood Nature Centre, $945,000 for Fort Normandeau, $414,000 for outdoor interpretation, as well as $22,000 to $99,000 for a website.

So far, $1.85 million has been approved for work to make the parks more engaging for all users.

The new plans for Kerry Wood Nature Centre include new permanent exhibits. The lobby, theatre and Discovery Room will also be updated to reflect the current uses and needs of the centre’s staff and visitors. An outside gallery and nature playground will extend the interpretive experience.

The master plan suggests a multi-purpose shelter and winterization of the interpretive centre at Fort Normandeau.

“Strong partnerships with local First Nations and re-enactment groups will be important to the further development of this site,” says the report compiled by AldrichPears Associates of Vancouver.

Public input underscored the importance of diversity in park planning. A second common theme was discovery. “From the proposed outdoor discovery playground at Kerry Wood Nature Centre to sculptural elements in outdoor settings, people responded well to ideas that encouraged a ‘stop and look again’ experience of the park,” says the report.

Almost all participants in the public consultation emphasized the long-term importance of having the park as a sanctuary — a quiet place to get away from urban life, but also a sanctuary for nature. People want to see the park protected and expanded as the city grows.

Council will also discuss on Monday:

• whether to include adding illegal drugs and other herbal products into the city’s Smoke Free bylaw;

• amending the Clearview North Neighbourhood Area Structure Plan and rezoning for an affordable housing site;

• Central Alberta Theatre’s request for assistance;

• Red Deer College’s funding request;

• whether to endorse the Canadian definition of homelessness;

• an update on the Environmental Master Plan from 2011;

• whether to set up a combative sports commission.

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