City council passed first reading of the Riverlands Area Redevelopment Plan (ARP) at this week’s meeting, and set a public hearing on the issue for Oct. 24th.
“I’m so lucky and fortunate to be a part of council that sees the 17 years prior to this of the hard work of previous councils come to fruition,” said Councillor Lawrence Lee.
“We’ve passed the first major hurdle in terms of building – that is, getting the Area Redevelopment Plan in place; a concept of moving forward and a vision for our City.
“I’m very excited and very much looking forward to getting shovels in the ground, foundations poured, and the building structures (there) to become part of this great City that we have.”
The vision for the Riverlands area is a vibrant, mixed use neighbourhood that capitalizes on the river as a major public amenity. Council reminisced that it was first presented in 2000.
Since then, development concepts including design elements, land use and zoning have been further refined in the proposed 2016 Riverlands Area Structure Plan.
Currently, the Riverlands area is primarily a light industrial/commercial area with minimal residential in the southwestern sector of the Greater Downtown vicinity.
It includes the former City public works yards, Cronquist Business Park, Inland Cement, Carnival Cinemas, the Quarry and the Old Brew Plaza, as well as several other commercial businesses.
The updated ARP proposes three districts within the 37 hectare Riverfront area.
These areas encompass professional, commercial and residential districts balanced with parks and mixed use buildings.
Key changes in the updated ARP also include, but are not limited to, the realignment of roadways, changes to building heights, the creation of edge zones that are intended to serve as a connection between buildings and public spaces, the incorporation of public squares, the development of movement that runs through the development, according to a release.
Councillor Lynne Mulder said she was delighted to see the plan, and added that the public also has to buy into it.
“It is a game changer for our whole City,” she said. “So I really look forward to the public hearing to hear what people have to say.”
Councillor Dianne Wyntjes pointed out that it’s not very often a city of Red Deer’s size gets an opportunity to redevelop an area to such an extent as this.
“Kudos to everyone involved in the debate and conversation.”
Mayor Tara Veer agreed that it’s a chance to maximize a rare opportunity for a community to have prime, riverfront developable land where most of the land holdings are owned by the public.
“It truly is a once in a lifetime opportunity,” she said. “It’s not just a neighbourhood – it’s our community’s neighbourhood as well because the redevelopment of it really will be a community as well as a tourism destination.”
Councillor Paul Harris said the ultimately, the development will be the cornerstone and a pinnacle of the community, and will really set Red Deer apart in a new and unique way.
“I’m really happy to support this.”
As noted, a public hearing will be held on Oct. 24th in Council Chambers.