Happy to hear more talk on
large scale attractions
reprinted from Red Deer
Advocate February 10, 2010; online (Leo Pare) February 5, 2010
Since the canals project dried up in late 2008, there hasn't been
much talk around Red Deer's future as a tourism destination.
The Advocate recently posted an online poll which revealed readers'
dismal evaluation of our tourism appeal. Online commenters fiercely
debated Red Deer's ups and downs. Some touted amenities like camp
sites, rec facilities, and natural landscape -- all of which are
tremendous community assets to be sure -- but let's be realistic.
Nobody is packing up the family and travelling 500 kilometres to
visit the Red Deer Museum or the Lion's Campground.
I thought the canals idea has serious potential for our community,
but with a nation-wide recession looming, people weren't keen on
millions of tax dollars being invested into such a frivolous
The crushing of the canals idea left us with the impression there
was little appetite for grandiose tourism schemes in Red Deer, so I
was a bit surprised to see this story on the front page of
Thursday's Advocate: 'World-class attraction proposed for Riverlands'.
It seems a group of forward-thinking folks have been carefully
crafting a new idea that would, in theory, turn Red Deer into a
major tourist destination. Their extravagant proposal includes
children's theme park, a ground transportation museum in the heart
of Riverlands, visitor accommodations modelled after historic rail
stations and a nature park.
Forth Junction Heritage Society president Paul Pettypiece told the
Advocate the "very bold and ambitious" concept will take about 20
years to fully develop, a lot of work and millions of dollars to
It's nice to see somebody taking tourism seriously in Central
Undoubtedly, the opponents to this new idea are already forming
their protests in acrimonious letters to the local newspapers and
Well naysayers, it comes down to the old mantra of 'you gotta spend
money to make money.' When it comes to investing in tourism, go big
or go home.
As residents of my hometown of Chauvin can attest, being home to the
old spherical septic tank they converted to be the World's Largest
Softball hasn't generated much tourism over the past 25 years. And I
doubt many folks are pulling out the motorhome for a weekend at the
giant Glendon Perogy or St. Paul's UFO landing pad.
Establishing ourselves as a must-visit location means thinking on a
grand scale and investing millions of dollars.
If Red Deer is serious about becoming a tourism destination, then we
need to get serious about providing visitors with attractions worth