CANADA 150 - Mayor Tara Veer and Red Deer City council broke ground for Canada 150 Square which will act as the hub for the Capstone at Riverlands community. Todd Colin Vaughan/Red Deer Express

City unveils Canada 150 Square in Riverlands development

Red Deer’s newest public space to be ready in 2018

The City of Red Deer made their second announcement of the week regarding the Capstone at Riverlands development project when Mayor Tara Veer and City council broke ground on and announced the name of Canada 150 Square.

The square is intended to be the hub of the new community.

“Today’s groundbreaking marking the public square and boardwalk is the first of the public amenity projects that will realize the vision of Riverlands,” Veer said. “Today we release the name of Canada 150 square, marking 150 years of Confederation.”

She added this week’s announcements are intended to begin the development of Capstone at Riverlands in earnest.

“Earlier this week, we launched the marketing of Capstone at Riverlands indicating not just to our community – but our province and country that our prime riverfront lands are ready to be developed,” Veer said.

The naming of Canada 150 Square not only coincides with the festivities taking place along the country, it also relates to the square’s unique location within the Waskasoo Trail system.

“The Waskasoo Park system was originally built to 100,000 citizens,” Veer explained. “Obviously, we are a community of 100,000 now so it is important we extend both our linear park system and also enhance park nodes along the linear park system. This public square will be a future gathering place for Red Deerians and guests to our community. It is a key component along this leg of the Trans Canada Trail.”

The square will also feature the burying of a new time capsule.

“Whenever we are faced with opportunities around commemorative events, it is an opportunity to bury a time capsule or to open a time capsule,” Veer said. “We will be planning a time capsule over the coming year which will be buried when we begin construction on the square. The theme of the time capsule will be Red Deer in 2017 and what was significant for our community.”

The design of the 4,000 sq. m square has been contracted to WSP and has been the result of many public consultations and planning sessions, according to City of Red Deer Director of Planning Services Tara Lodewyk.

“The Riverlands project has been 10 years in the making and there have been many opportunities for public consultation along the way,” Lodewyk said. “The latest would have been with the Area Redevelopment Plan. We had hired a consultant as well to look at the placement of public spaces and the size of them. It is important that when we are designing public spaces, people feel comfortable in them. There are ways you can do that with design – the size of buildings around them; the size of the square itself; and what amenities you put in it.”

Lodewyk explained the planning for Canada 150 Square always had the future users of the square in mind.

“One of the objectives of the redevelopment was to create great spaces for people, so it is about designing spaces where people feel comfortable,” she said. “That relates to the scale, the type of furniture and then what features are there for people to enjoy. Within the Canada 150 Square we have a fountain feature; different elements within the paving; seating areas; benches; unique lighting and that all comes together to create a space where pedestrians and those enjoying it feel comfortable.”

The lighting, she added, will allow the square to be a day and evening meeting place, with respect to the residential properties which will exist within the development.

At press time, the square is being funded through municipal taxes, however, that has the potential to change.

“Currently, this was funded by the municipal tax base,” Veer said. “There was an allocation that was made for the square and the boardwalk along Riverlands in the 2017 budget. We will be making applications to the federal and provincial governments once we have a detailed design.”

She added, “The square is currently in design. We fully expect it will be developed and ready for 2018.”

mark.weber@reddeerexpress.com