This opinion piece was submitted by Garfield Marks.
In cities around the world, man made lakes have been an economic diversification, city saviour, a tourist destination, and/or heat issue solution. Let us look at examples I found on google.
In 2000, when Jasmin Imamović became mayor of Tuzla, it was a dilapidated, swampy mining settlement short on prospects. Bosnia-Herzegovina’s third-largest city had suffered badly in the Bosnian war, and from recessions, low wages and exodus of people since. Solution was a man made lake.
Tuzla’s economy has also changed massively. The tourism and service industries are now its biggest sectors – a sharp change of direction for a city previously known for its coal plants and smoke-filled skies.
Other cities are also trying to boost their profile by artificially creating “natural” tourist attractions. The UAE’s Palm Jumeirah and The World, some of the world’s largest artificial islands, are an extreme example; a rather more considered effort is Barcelona’s beach at Barceloneta, created as part of the city’s facelift for the 1992 Olympic Games.
The beach, the Catalan capital’s largest, is credited with catapulting Barcelona into the top ranks of European travel destinations: the yearly number of visitors staying in hotels in the city rose from 1.7 million in 1990 to 8.9 million in 2017.
Amsterdam has also tried the fake beach approach, incorporating housing.
The Serpentine (also known as the Serpentine River) is a 40-acre (16 ha) recreational lake in Hyde Park, London, England was a venue for the men’s and women’s triathlon and marathon swimming events in the London 2012 Olympics
In Alberta; Echo Dale, the largest of Medicine Hat’s parks, is located a short distance west of .Medicine Hat… The park has two man-made lakes:
Henderson Lake Park is one of Lethbridge’s premier parks featuring a 24 hectare man made lake, mature trees and groves, gardens, picnic shelters, and recreational properties.
Red Deer has Hazlett Lake in a prime spot by Hwy 2, great for tourism, 100 acres for recreational activities, 2 miles of shoreline for beaches, locate the Aquatic Centre there and you would have a premier tourist destination and residents could have a staycation..
We would not have to spend millions building a man made lake, we have the real thing.
Why did the city after discussing with a few members of the Red Deer Naturalists think that leaving such an opportunity dormant, was a good economical idea? Why not make some beaches? Why not develop this tourist attraction possibility? Incorporate the new Aquatic Centre.Why just build housing?
While other cities are investing millions in building artificial lakes, we are building homes to hide our very own natural lake.
A lot of words have been written about our state of affairs in Red Deer. The fall-out from a depressed economy, being in a bust portion of a boom-bust cycle. Talk of diversifying our economy away from our continued reliance on the energy sector. Words are not actions, and it is worrisome. Is it fear or lack of vision that impedes us from following up on the words?
No matter how we dress it up, Red Deer is stagnant with growth at about 1% over 3 years, after population loss. Blame the economy, the stars or any number of reasons but it could have been different. Lethbridge is now more populated than Red Deer and Lethbridge is growing in this economy. Lethbridge invested and is still investing in areas appealing to young families including recreational facilities. Lethbridge has a history of investing in facilities to encourage growth, education and tourism. They turned a man made slough into Henderson Lake Park and has never looked back.
Red Deer has a greater opportunity in having a real natural lake. Will Red Deer build a park? NO, they will plan on houses, and apartment buildings that may never get built, unless we go into a boom portion of the boom-bust cycle. This is the simplistic, easiest and safest plan with a low return on investment. It ignores the high-profile location and possibilities of the lake, but it has less risk. A wall of residences will be built to hide the lake from Hwy 2.
Remember, Hazlett Lake is a natural lake that covers a surface area of 0.45 km2 (0.17 mi2), has an average depth of 3 meters (10 feet). Hazlett Lake has a total shore line of 4 kilometers (2 miles). It is 108.8 acres in size. Located in the north-west sector of Red Deer.
Red Deer has seen mass exodus of population over the years before seeing a very modest growth of about 1% over 3 years. The handling of Hazlett Lake or lack of vision for Hazlett Lake may be an example. How many Red Deer residents drive to Sylvan Lake and pay $10 parking to sit and swim in a lake? We have a lake but we wouldn’t think of building a beach anywhere along the 2 mile coastline. Let Red Deer residents drive to Sylvan Lake and spend their money there.
Lethbridge took a man-made slough and created Henderson Lake Park, a highly regarded tourist attraction. We will put a trail around our lake. Red Deer residents can go to Sylvan Lake to go to a beach.
We have several planned neighbourhoods that are sitting undeveloped or unfilled so this residential development they are proposing for Hazlett Lake, may never get built. What is the draw? We are creating new neighbourhoods, faster than we are growing, why?
Why not look at how we can invite growth to fill the empty lots we have now? Every town and city has lots for sale but how many have a lake, a natural lake with 4 kms. of shoreline?
We have an opportunity here with Hazlett Lake to create something, a destination, an attraction, will we let it slip through our fingers? Apparently it may be too late. Thanks city hall.
Collicutt, GH Dawe, and Michener Aquatic Centres to open in mid-July
From the City of Red Deer
City to begin phased reopening of recreation facilities
“We are excited to welcome citizens back to our facilities, but opening them within the new provincial health guidelines and restrictions takes planning, and we have had to make significant adjustments to our operations,” said Shelley Gagnon, Recreation, Parks & Culture Manager. “The experience will look and feel a little different for our residents when these amenities reopen.”
Operating hours at some facilities will be adjusted and access to facilities and programs will be limited and controlled to comply with provincial guidelines. This could include booking time slots to use fitness equipment or designating specific public swimming times, track access and sport activities.
The tentative timeline for amenity openings is as follows:
- June 24 – Community bookings will open for sports fields, picnic shelters and bookable park spaces including Great Chief Park, Setters Place, Bower Ponds Stage. The Lindsay Thurber track and field amenities will also be available for bookings. The City is working with user groups to confirm previous bookings and understand future demand.
- Collicutt Centre – Fitness areas, access to the track and use of the field house will be available for controlled, limited access. We also expect to have the pool open, primarily for swimming lessons and public swimming.
- G.H. Dawe Community Centre – We expect to have the pool open, primarily for swimming lessons and public swimming. The gymnasium will open for controlled, limited access. Fitness areas will not open immediately.
- Michener Aquatic Centre – We expect to have the pool available for controlled, limited lane swimming and some aquatic fitness.
- The Recreation Centre will remain closed for the time being. We continue to assess and understand demand for facilities, program and services as part of this phased approach to opening. As previously announced, the outdoor pool will remain closed for the season.
- We are working with our organized user groups and clubs to understand demand as they plan for summer and fall programming. These groups book space in our facilities and we anticipate having space available for their use including ice, dry space and pools, by July 6th.
- We are also excited to offer outdoor fitness programming in early July. More details will be provided soon.
In addition, the following third party-operated facilities have been given permission to reopen while following all provincial health requirements and guidelines. Please contact them directly for operating information:
- River Bend Golf and Recreation Area
- Enduro Mountain Bike Park
- Lions Campground
- Red Deer Tennis Club
- Red Deer Pickleball Club
- Red Deer BMX
- Bower Ponds Pavilion
- Red Deer Museum + Art Gallery
- Kerry Wood Nature Centre
- Norwegian Laft Hus
- Heritage Square
- Cronquist House
- Fort Normandeau
- Neighbourhood Activity Centres
- YMCA Northside Community Centre
- Great West Adventure Park
- Heritage Ranch
- Festival Hall
- Memorial Centre
- Edgar Athletic Fields
“We are still assessing how we can safely open our spray parks, including Kin Canyon, Discovery Canyon and Blue Grass Sod Farm Central Spray and Play, while adhering to public health orders and restrictions,” said Gagnon. “Currently, outdoor gatherings are limited to no more than 100 people, so we’re working to determine how to manage these restrictions while still providing access and will have more information to share in the coming weeks.”
Registration is now open for modified summer day camps which will be held in City facilities in July and August. Visit www.reddeer.ca/daycamps for further information.
As recreation and culture amenities open, The City strongly encourages users to remain vigilant and continue exercising caution to prevent the spread of COVID-19 including washing/sanitizing hands often and staying home when feeling ill. Facility users will be required to follow all public health orders including maintaining physical distancing when possible.
Mayor Veer responds to BMO and RDC Donald School of Business leaving downtown core
From the City of Red Deer
Mayor Tara Veer responds to downtown economic sustainability on behalf of City Council
Our community is facing unprecedented challenges, navigating the perfect storm of a global health crisis and an already unfavourable economic climate. BMO Bank of Montreal, a significant anchor in downtown Red Deer, has announced their intention to close their downtown and south Red Deer branches. The company will consolidate these local branches to a new branch in Bower Place. Following a briefing from Bank of Montreal officials, it is The City’s understanding that this is part of the planned change for the bank, and all other branches remain open in Red Deer.
This announcement closely follows the news that Red Deer College’s (RDC) Donald School of Business will move some student programming from the downtown campus to the main campus. RDC will continue to offer Continuing Education and English as a Second Language (ESL) courses at their downtown location. I spoke with the RDC Board Chair and we discussed the changing model of RDC and the future of RDC in the downtown. RDC reiterated their commitment to the downtown campus and the fact that ESL and Continuing Education programs will continue to bring students to our downtown.
We know that downtowns are the heart of any city and that they play a vital role as our communities’ business, administrative, and cultural centres. City Council has prioritized work on the strategic goal of ensuring a strong, dynamic local economy and a revitalized downtown and have identified this in our 2019-2022 Strategic Plan. As an example, earlier this year The City launched a new economic incentives program for the downtown and adopted other initiatives to strengthen our local economy. For additional information, please visit The City’s website at www.reddeer.ca and search downtown economic incentives and economic leader.
We remain committed to fostering a strong, diverse local economy, which includes a thriving downtown. We will continue to invest in and support businesses in the downtown and throughout our community, ultimately working to ensure long-term sustainability and viability and to support our community through these unprecedented times.Ct
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