Railyards -- City 'too late' on
railway lands: citizen
Open house on a 20-Year
Plan for Downtown
reprinted from Red Deer
Advocate (Lana Michelin) June 15, 2011
The City of Red Deer is two
decades too late in planning for the redevelopment of the downtown
railway lands, says a Red Deer citizen concerned about preserving
the city's rail history.
Paul Pettypiece, a member of the local Forth Junction Society
dedicated to keeping alive the city's railway heritage, attended an
open house Tuesday that starts the ball rolling on a 20-year plan
for the region around Superstore.
While the area northwest of the downtown, which includes the Saputo
dairy plant, Cannery Row Bingo, the city's water treatment plant,
and new Edges project on the Red Deer River, is predominantly
commercial and industrial, the vision is to make it mixed
residential/commercial in future.
According to the City's Greater Downtown Action Plan, Red Deer's
downtown cannot be revitalized unless more people live, work and
play/shop there, said the plan's chair Shirley Hocken.
She sees families living in a high-density neighbourhood near the
river, within walking distance of playgrounds and shops.
Pettypiece believes this kind of redevelopment planning should have
been done before the railway tracks were ripped out in 1990.
"If the city had some forethought," he said, a bike trail, or green
corridor, could have been created between the pedestrian former CP
Rail bridge and the downtown CP Rail station.
"The trail would have followed the path of the former rail tracks,
preserving this bit of city heritage.
But all the land was, unfortunately, sold to private developers,
said Pettypiece, making a new trail now all but impossible.
Some of the landowners are not likely to be moving anytime soon," he
While city planners realize that the water treatment plant and
industries such as Saputo will likely remain downtown for the long
term, the area's redevelopment must be planned for, otherwise it
will always remain the same, said Haley Mountstephen, who did not
work for the city when this land was sold to private developers.
Hocken believes the city saw a need, at the time, to make some money
In any case, she believes there will always be a place in the area's
future, for commercial ventures such as Superstore. "You will always
need a shopping centre."
Devon Snideman owns an automotive service shop in the area, and
wonders if it will fit with the high-density vision.
Snideman also wonders how parking will be handled. Unlike the small
vehicles shown in many of the photographic examples of
townhouse-style developments, city planners are seeking public input
on, Red Deer residents drive big trucks and SUVs, he said. While
underground garages could be built, Sniderman predicted "the big
hang-up will be parking."
Local residents can comment until June 30 on various visions for the
area, and also enter a naming contest for the region online at
Webmaster note: A few minor typos have been corrected in the
above article and the subtitle given more prominence than in the
original article. A note of clarification: Pettypiece, a railway
historian and resident of Red Deer County, does not believe a
redevelopment plan for the area is 20 years too late -- only a
linear park connecting the Canadian Pacific Railway bridge and
station that would have given the area greater railway heritage
value. The original right of way, which would have made a natural
pedestrian and bicycle pathway from North Red Deer to historic
downtown, was sold to local landowners (who are not necessarily
developers) making it very difficult for that specific heritage
value to be retained.