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Opinion

Travelling is becoming too expensive. Is it time to make Red Deer a Staycation destination?

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The majority of Canadians polled stated they would not be going anywhere this summer. Largely due to costs. So STAYCATIONS are the new norm.
If the majority of residents in Central Alberta will be travelling less in the future then would it not make sense to create a Staycation destination in Red Deer.
Sylvan Lake has capitalized on their lake for years, and will likely gain more tourism capital as Central Alberta residents travel away less and seek staycation alternatives.
A large number of cities like Lethbridge have invested in man-made lakes to attract tourism capital. Lethbridge created Henderson Lake Park out of a man-made slough, and enjoy incredible growth, being one of the fastest growing communities in Canada.
Henderson Lake Park is one of Lethbridge’s premier parks featuring a 24 hectare man made lake, mature trees and groves, gardens, picnic shelters, playgrounds and over 7 km of trails.
The Park is home to numerous annual community celebrations including Canada Day Festivities, the Lethbridge Rotary Dragon Boat Festival and many community runs and walks. Whether you’re a family with small children, an exercise or sports enthusiast, a non-motorized boating enthusiast, a fisherman, a horticulturists, or someone simply looking to get out for a walk this park is definitely for you.
The lake is perfect for kayaks, canoes and paddle boats alike and provides easy access to the water via the boat launch and dock. The dock is often used by fishermen looking to catch Pike, Perch or Whitefish (provincial fishing regulations apply).
Interested in how we keep the water clean at Henderson Lake.
For the nature, exercise, and history enthusiasts there is a 2.5 km trail around the lake and another 4.3 km trail around the perimeter of the park providing ample opportunity for one to stretch their legs, check out all of the local wildlife, or view the commemorative and historical markers and displays located throughout the park. There is also plenty of open space in the park which is often used for ultimate frisbee. There are also great little areas for you to put down a blanket and enjoy a good book, have a picnic or simply relax and watch the world as it goes by.
For families with children Henderson Lake Park has three playgrounds: one located on the north side of the Park just off Parkside Drive, one at the end of the park, and the third located behind the Henderson Lake Pool. The playgrounds feature climbing apparatus, slides and swings. The playground on the north side of the park near the dock is completely accessible. After the kids are done playing families can enjoy a picnic at one of the many picnic tables located throughout the park, or for something more formal one can book a covered picnic shelter.
Henderson Park is also home to the Demonstration and Rose Gardens. The Rose Garden is located in the northwest corner of the park and commemorates 9/11. The Demonstration Gardens are located east of the Tennis Courts and celebrates the contributions of Communities in Bloom to the Community.
Henderson Park is surrounded by a multitude of facilities like the SLP Skate Park, Henderson Horseshoe Pits, the Henderson Lake Golf Course, the Henderson Outdoor Pool, Spitz Stadium, Henderson Park Ice Centre, Henderson Tennis Courts and Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden.
Henderson Park has something to offer absolutely everyone and there isn’t a day where you won’t see families, exercise enthusiasts, seniors, people out exercising their dogs, fishermen, boaters, golfers, and just about everyone else under the sun out enjoying this wonderful park. From the photographic opportunities to the areas for quiet solitude and reflection to the exuberant playgrounds, to the trail system that is linked to the rest of the south side, this park is sure to meet everyone’s needs.
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, Hazlett 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.
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.
With Staycations in mind, looking at Lethbridge’s successful Henderson Lake, and keeping in mind that Red Deer will be looking at building a multi-use aquatic centre in the near future, why not build at Hazlett Lake. Throw in a beach, camping, fishing, boating, diving, picnicking, playgrounds and you could have a staycation paradise.
All in our own backyard. If you agree then let the city know.

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Alberta

Retired Oil Field Worker sparks national conversation with his pitch for a new route to move Alberta Oil

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The following Opinion piece comes from local writer / editorialist (and former oil field worker) Garfield Marks. 

We have not been able to run our bitumen through a pipeline to a refinery in New Brunswick. There has been resistance in parts of Ontario and in Quebec. What if we came up with another plan. Would we consider it? There will be road blocks, but not insurmountable, would we consider it?
Yes how about Thunder Bay?
Thunder Bay, Ontario, the largest Canadian port of the St. Lawrence Seaway located on the west end of Lake Superior, 1850 kms. from Hardisty, Alberta. A forgotten jewel.
So what, you may ask. 
They used to ship grain from Thunder Bay in huge tankers to ports all over the world. Why not oil?
The Saint Lawrence Seaway ships fuel, gasoline and diesel tankers, to this day.
We could run oil tankers to the Irving refinery in New Brunswick, bypassing the controversial pipeline running through eastern Ontario and Quebec.
The pipeline, if that was the transport model chosen, would only need to run through parts of Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario. Like, previously stated the pipeline would only be 1850 kms. long. 
The other great thing about Thunder Bay is the abundance of rail lines. Transportation for such things as grain and forestry products from western Canada. If you can’t run pipeline from Hardisty, through to Thunder Bay, use the railroad.
Why Hardisty, you may ask.
Hardisty, according to Wikipedia,  is mainly known as a pivotal petroleum industry hub where petroleum products such as Western Canada Select blended crude oil and Hardisty heavy oil are produced, stored and traded.
The Town of Hardisty owes its very existence to the Canadian Pacific Railway. About 1904 the surveyors began to survey the railroad from the east and decided to locate a divisional point at Hardisty because of the good water supply from the river. 
Hardisty, Alberta has the railroad and has the product, the storage capacity, and the former Alberta government planned on investing $3.7 billion in rail cars for hauling oil while Thunder Bay has the railroad and an under utilised port at the head of the St. Lawrence Seaway.
Economics are there along with opportunity, employment would be created and the east coast could end its’ dependency on imported oil. 
Do we have the vision or willingness to consider another option. I am just asking for all avenues to be considered.
In my interviews in Ontario there is a willingness to discuss this idea. 
The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation is still reviewing the idea of shipping crude oil from western Canada through its system, and it’s a long way from happening, according to Bruce Hodgson, the Seaway’s director of market development.
“Obviously, there needs to be an ongoing commitment on the part of a producer, and so that’s going to be required for any project of this nature,” he said. 

We could consider it, could we not?
CBC NEWS did a story about this idea on March 7 2019;
A retired oil field worker in Alberta has “floated” a novel solution to Alberta’s oil transportation woes: pipe the bitumen to Thunder Bay, Ont., then ship it up the St. Lawrence Seaway to the Irving oil refinery in New Brunswick.
Marks’ proposal might be more than a pipe dream, according to the director of the Queen’s Institute for Energy and Environmental Policy.
‘I don’t think that it’s a totally nuts idea’
“I don’t think that it’s a totally nuts idea,” Warren Mabee said. “I think that there’s some flaws to it … but this is an idea that could work in certain circumstances and at certain times of year. … It’s not the craziest thing I’ve ever heard.”
The chief executive officer of the Port of Thunder Bay said shipping oil from the port “could easily be done.” 
“We ship refined gasoline and diesel up from Sarnia. We’ve done that for many many years,” Tim Heney told CBC. “So it’s not something that’s that far-fetched.”
There are, however, plenty of potential drawbacks to shipping crude through the Seaway, Mabee explained, not least of which is the fact that it isn’t open year-round.

The need to store oil or redirect it during the winter months could be costly, he said.
Potential roadblocks
Another potential pitfall is capacity, he added; there may not be enough of the right-sized tankers available to carry the oil through the Seaway. 
Finally, he said, the journey by sea from Lake Superior to the Irving refinery in New Brunswick is a long one, so it might make more sense to transport the product to a closer facility such as the one in Sarnia, Ont.
The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation is still reviewing the idea of shipping crude oil from western Canada through its system, and it’s a long way from happening, according to Bruce Hodgson, the Seaway’s director of market development.
“Obviously, there needs to be an ongoing commitment on the part of a producer, and so that’s going to be required for any project of this nature,” he said. 
So far, no producer has come forward seeking to ship crude through Thunder Bay, he said. 

Asked about the possible environmental risks of shipping oil on Lake Superior, both Hodgson and Heney said shipping by tanker is relatively safe; Hodgson noted that any tankers carrying the product would have to be double-hulled, and crews are heavily vetted. 
Time to rethink pipelines?
There hasn’t been a spill in the Seaway system for more than 20 years he said. 
Nonetheless, Mabee said, the potential for an oil spill on the Great Lakes could be a huge issue. 
“The St. Lawrence and the Great Lakes have a lot of people living in close proximity, a lot of people who rely on it for drinking water,” he said. “There’s a delicate ecosystem there. I think a lot of people would push back against this proposal simply from that perspective.”
In fact, one of the reasons Mabee appreciates Marks’ proposal, he said, is because it invites people to weigh the pros and cons of different methods of transporting oil. 
“If we’re not going to build pipelines, but we’re going to continue to use oil, it means that people are going to be looking at some of these alternative transport options,” he said.

“And if we don’t want oil on those alternative transport options, we need to give the pipelines another thought.

Time to consider all options, I dare say.

​Garfield Marks​

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Opinion

The cost of the Canada Winter Games?

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The following Opinion piece comes from local writer/editorialist Garfield Marks.

The Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre is a beautiful building but a very costly one. In more than money.

Construction costs of $22 million is an expensive undertaking. Operating and maintenance and interest on debt compounds the expense. The city is paying $11 million over a 10 year period or $1.15 million per year. (2017-2026) The college and the province are covering the rest, right?

Employees at Red Deer College are paying, too, and some are paying dearly. With their jobs. Red Deer College has to maintain a balanced budget, and with the huge cost of building, operating and maintaining this facility, they had to make cuts.

Early retirement, lay offs, and hours cut are an unintended consequence of the Canada Games.  The Gary W. Harris Wellness Centre was only about 25% of the cost of the winter games and will cost some residents their paycheques, their livelihoods with no one available to top-up their incomes.  Every resident will be paying for this centre for another 7 years, how much are we paying for the other 75%? Will we ever know?

The CFR cost the city last year $151,000 and $50,000 so far this year. Last fall when council voted themselves huge pay increases, one councillor stated they were worth the increases because they brought these events to the city. 

Thank you for lightening our wallets and for some their jobs. Will we ever know the real costs of the Canada games, would we do it again if we knew the real costs? I don’t think so but I doubt we will ever know the real costs, will we?

​Garfield Marks​

Background Information:

Budget Requirements, Council Decision Points and Funding Sources: click reddeer.ca

“…Through a tri-party agreement with The City of Red Deer, the Canada Winter Games Host Society and Red Deer College, a contribution will be made to the College over a 10 year period totalling $11,501,000. This contribution represents about 50 per cent of the expected costs of the Olympic sized ice surface and squash courts to be housed within this facility. Payments of $1.15 million will be paid annually from 2017 to 2026 inclusive. The grants being given to RDC for this project are funded from debt and the Canada Winter Games grant...”

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