Build it and they will come … we’re already here.
Red Deer is not a “field of dreams” with regards to recreational facilities, although it does have many athletes and teams that have turned their dreams of excellence in to reality. Most recently, congratulations to the RDC Queens and Kings on their national titles and record “setting” accomplishment by both teams winning in conjunction for the first time ever.
Obviously impressive athlete development programs are in place in spite of lacking facilities in many cases. It’s not expected to have Sochi (population 400,000 or one-quarter more than Central Alberta can draw), Olympic-calibre infrastructure ($50 billion cost) in order for us to churn out world-class performers.
This isn’t even an issue based on elite athletes but moreso the general population and its core health and well-being.
On a municipal scale, ponder why Red Deer, with a population base twice that of Airdrie, three times that of Cochrane, and almost four times of Spruce Grove, has the same or lesser recreational facilities as these much smaller centres? Although their tax base is a lot less, they often have better ice surfaces and aquatic centres overall than Red Deer. How is it that they have leisure complexes that are superior to G.H. Dawe and Collicutt Centres combined? How did their powers that be manage to secure local, provincial, federal and private sector monies and build stellar facilities that surpass Red Deer’s amenities?
It’s realized that water treatment, snow removal, etc., are hefty budgetary concerns but these other smaller locals (not more major municipalities like Lethbridge or Winnipeg) manage similar snowfall amounts and maintain other areas required for basic dwelling. Yet they still have created, or are in the process of, activity areas that surpass what is offered in Red Deer.
Blackfalds has a second water spray area within months of Red Deer finally creating its first. Penhold has a well laid out multiplex and its population is not even one-20th of Red Deer’s. How many Red Deer skaters have to go there or elsewhere (out of town) to secure ice time?
Pond hockey players should be applauded for playing at 6 a.m. after daylight savings sprang ahead last weekend.
The research is evident. Children need and deserve their sleep and should not be limited to available ice times at these unreasonable hours. Also evident is that for every dollar spent on youth and citizens now, it’s recapped tenfold plus in the future. (It costs a lot less to operate a recreation centre than a penitentiary.) As the one swim club states, “keep our kids in the pool/off the streets.”
But of course we’ve only been waiting decades/generations for an indoor 50-metre pool and that’s another issue that city council seems to repeatedly talk about and not act on.
With the bid for the 2019 Winter Games, we don’t even have a facility that can appropriately feature badminton. Kudos to Lyn Radford and others trying to build “it” for many years so “they” will come. However, our citizens of all ages are already here and deserve to be able to access and enjoy facilities at least as functional as these much smaller centres. If Spruce Grove, Cochrane, Airdrie, etc., can manage the undertaking of proper leisure and activity facilities, why can’t Red Deer?