City council has endorsed a plan to improve entrance into Red Deer on the south end.
The new project from Alberta Transportation would see a single lane exit option that ultimately provides three lanes into the City – two lanes onto Gaetz Avenue and one lane to 19th St. and Taylor Drive.
City officials have been looking at different plans over the past few years to deal with the increasing flow of traffic into the City, and, according to council notes, the province has requested approval to move this project forward. It was back in 2009 that Alberta Transportation had a functional planning study done for the Hwy. 2/QEII corridor. The study showed that short-term and long-term improvements were needed for the corridor, including the interchange upgrade at the QEII and Gaetz Avenue.
“Alberta Transportation has made a number of amendments to the design which have improved it,” said Craig Curtis, City manager. “I want to emphasize that the main purpose of this structure is to alleviate what the minister and the government considered to be one of the worst hazards on Highway 2 between Edmonton and Calgary,” he said.
“There have been trade-offs here where I think they’ve moved in a very measured way towards where we would like to see it,” he said.
The goal is also to have it completed in time for the 2019 Canada Winter Games.
“I think this is a program that addresses the current reality and the flexibility to expand,” said Councillor Lawrence Lee.
Mayor Tara Veer added that while, “It’s not without its trade-offs, I think there is substantial improvements from the option that council was presented with in 2010 and 2011, and it’s reflected in the letters that went back from our administration.
“Ultimately, it’s Alberta Transportation’s project and they are looking to resolve what is a substantial safety concern for our citizenry but also provincially as well,” she said, adding that another good point in the plan is that it protects council’s ability to open the discussion in the future. Our traffic patterns might change.
“Council’s position on this is very clear, that if Alberta Transportation is going to move to construction on this, it needs to be sooner rather than later so when we welcome 25,000 Canadians in 2019 we absolutely cannot be pre- or mid-construction in 2019.”
In other news, council also approved changes to the Culture Fee for Service grant program for the 2016 funding year.
The program, which has been renamed the Community Culture Development Fund, has been in place for 15 years and provides financial support to not-for-profit organizations that deliver arts, culture and heritage initiatives within Red Deer.
“Our community’s unique culture is conveyed through artistic expression, creative citizens, public art, natural and built heritage features, cultural heritage, festivals, special events, and more,” said Tara O’Donnell, culture superintendent. “The Community Culture Development Fund is designed to support these initiatives and build the kind of vibrant community that Red Deerians have expressed is important to them.”
In addition to the name change, other changes have been made to strengthen the program, including a focus on outcomes, simplified application process, changes to funding categories and opportunities for multi-year funding.
The intake period for the 2016 funding year will run from Nov. 1st to Dec. 1st and the application forms will be available on the City’s web site Nov. 1st.
To help applicants understand the new program and application process, workshops will be held Nov. 9th from 7 to 9 p.m. and on Nov. 12th from 7 to 9 p.m. The workshops will be held at Culture Services, which is located at 3827 – 39th St.