City continues to move forward with Riverlands

  • Apr. 27, 2016 2:51 p.m.

The Greater Downtown Action Plan (GDAP) continues to move forward at a steady pace, according to Director of Planning Services Tara Lodewyk.

The GDAP was first introduced in 2008, adopted in 2009 and evolves to meet the needs of citizens and economic constraints, but remains an active document in shaping Red Deer. The plan focuses on three major areas of the City – the Riverlands community, the Railyards community and historic downtown.

The plan contains 46 recommendations, 34 of which are underway or have been completed to this point. The Ross Street Patio attractions and Taylor Drive infrastructure changes are some of the more notable changes as a result of the GDAP.

“With the upgrades and changes we’ve seen downtown, it has allowed experiences and businesses to come downtown, and now it’s the Riverlands’ turn,” Lodewyk said.

“We have the infrastructure being completed and in place and now we can build the experience of that neighbourhood. There has been a little bit of physical work done to Riverlands, with the moving of the intersection and the reconfiguration of how we enter into Riverlands. As well, there’s been a lot of behind the scenes work going on.”

Lodewyk said currently there is a focus on sustaining some of the projects already being completed, and lots of planning being done for Riverlands.

She said the City is currently working on detailed designs for Alexander Way to support the intersection changes put in place, and are now looking at investment attraction and retention – essentially, how to get construction into Riverlands and support the needs of citizens.

As well, Lodewyk said the City’s work last year of burying power lines in the Riverlands has laid good foundations to add more to the area.

“There was work done on the intersection between Taylor and Ross Street, and there will be some upgrades to 53rd Street, which comes from the pedestrian bridge and connects all the way to downtown and Riverlands. We’re doing detailed design of that now and will soon start seeing construction there,” she said.

“City planning always moves in cycles. We do a ton of planning, and then we change lines on paper, put things in the ground, build the bones of a new project, and then we eventually lead into what the public sees. Riverlands is at the point where we are going to start seeing things happen.”

Lodewyk said the initiatives were prioritized to help transition from one project to the next. She said although the Railyards are an important focus of the GDAP, that area will see revitalization after the completion of Riverlands projects.

She said the GDAP has changed and been assessed to best suit the needs of the City.

“With Riverlands, there have been some tweaks in terms of how that area will move forward. You’re going to see an update come to the plan this spring, with a few land use changes and minor things like that,” she explained.

“All that’s doing is building on the information we have available. Every time we do another study or more work and detail design, we’re learning. We compare that against the economy, trends and needs and then make changes and continue to build.

“It’s really been about evolving our plans closer to seeing the final products.”

Citizens will not see major construction in the Riverlands area this year, but will see a little bit of work started on 48th St. As well, some minor upgrades will occur on 53rd St., leading from Railyards into the downtown core.

“We haven’t deviated from the GDAP vision and are not amending that document. We’re implementing it in the different areas in different stages, but the eye is still on that 25-year vision. We’re always looking to that great vision and letting that guide our developments. Every day, that vision helps us to decide what will be done as a City,” Lodewyk said.

The document continues to be implemented through a variety of City initiatives and upgrades, with pending changes to be seen later this spring.