Opinion

Red Deer’s Hazlett Lake is “Opportunity Lost”?

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. Our declining population. 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 shrinking. Blame the economy, the stars or any number of reasons but it could have been different. Lethbridge is slightly bit smaller in population and area than Red Deer but Lethbridge is growing in this same economy. Lethbridge invested and is today 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 likely 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 will be built to hide the lake from Hwy 2’s traffic.
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.
Currently on the NADG.com website we will see a residential community around Hazlett Lake. Encompassing about 12 percent of the land north of 11A currently up for development. Phase I of probably 10 phases, will be home to 5,000 residents with the nearest high school on the other side of city on the east end. A K-8 school site to be located north-east of Hazlett Lake currently planned for a later phase.
On nadg.com:
“Hazlett Lake is a 350-acre master planned residential community located in North Red Deer at the intersection of Alberta’s busiest Highway -QE2 and Highway 11A. The community will consist of over 2000 new residential units and will be Phase 1 of Red Deer’s North of 11A Major Area Structural Plan. Additionally, this development will be the first new housing project in North Red Deer in 10 years”
So, please, the next time you drive north on Hwy 2, as you pass the Hwy 11A turnoff, look out the passenger window and check out Hazlett Lake.
That lake is part of the City of Red Deer, and is a portion of a Major Area Structure Plan north of Hwy 11A previously mentioned. So as you drive by, think of what you would like to see done with your lake.
One scenario that could compliment the lake and address the desire for a regional aquatic centre and a 50-metre pool is turning the proposed community centre on the northeast corner of the lake into a Collicutt Centre type of complex.
What is more natural than having an aquatic centre on the lake? You could have your 50-metre pool inside, a lake for scuba diving, kayaking, canoeing, paddle boating, swimming, under-water photography, fishing, sun tanning, races, to name but a few.
The winter could see skating, hockey, to complement the indoor ice rink, as well as ice-fishing and ice sculptures and sleigh rides, again, to name but a few. This would all be visible to the traffic on Hwy 2.
This Major Area Structure Plan takes in much more than a lake. It takes in about 3,000 acres of land for residential, commercial and industrial development. The potential for residential growth if maintained at 17.7 units per hectare and 2.33 residents per unit could see 20,000 new residents if the area split equally between residential, commercial and industrial users.
Collicutt Centre is the top used community venue in Red Deer. It is used by almost 60 per cent of the population. It is in the southeast corner of Red Deer and was a major impetus in the development of the southeast corner of Red Deer. Blackfalds used their new Abbey Centre as an impetus for very strong residential developments that have recently outshone Red Deer’s residential developments.
Would a regional aquatic centre built on Hazlett Lake kick-start development in Red Deer’s north at a time of a slowdown in the energy sector? Would a Hazlett Lake regional aquatic centre, visible from Hwy 2, create a tourism trade that would bolster Red Deer’s hospitality industry? Would a Hazlett Lake regional aquatic centre enhance our position as a sports destination? Would a Hazlett Lake regional aquatic centre ensure that everyone would have an opportunity to enjoy the lake? I hope so.
Then another option would be to close it off to the public, develop around it, build a private boathouse for the home owners holding passes, and build expensive homes to hide the lake from the citizens and allow developers to make huge profits.
It is up to the citizens to let the city know what they would like to see, but time is running out.
I think the Hazlett Lake is worth preserving, and I hope that when my grandchildren drive north on Hwy 2 just past the Hwy 11A turnoff, that they will be able to look out the passenger side window and see Hazlett Lake.
Perhaps they will be able to tan on a beach, watch a naturescape in action, paddle a canoe, swim, skate, maybe have a bonfire on a beach and roast a marshmallow. We do need to act now, before the plans get too entrenched in the least desired direction.
Please contact the city before it is too late.



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