The public recently got their first peek at a plan that will develop old Gaetz Ave. in downtown Red Deer.
“Gaetz Avenue was really active in the 1950s and 1960s and we want to bring back that life again,” said Pat Butler, principal landscape architect with ISL Engineering and Land Services. “What we’ve done is widened the sidewalks, slowed down the vehicle traffic and there are some curves in it as well. We’ve also lost some parking as a result of that.
“But we want to make it more pedestrian friendly, safer, add more lighting and we wanted to enhance the landscape.”
The revitalization, which will take place from 53 St. and south, was presented at the recent open house and contained design elements that are intended to develop a safe, pedestrian friendly streetscape with a strong sense of place to enhance downtown.
The design incorporates elements to attract residents and visitors during the day and evening through all seasons.
The plan calls for numerous trees and shrubs to be planted. It proposes plants be no taller than 900 mm high and that they focus on adding texture and colour to the street.
Also proposed is the use of red and tan paving stone that would serve as City sidewalks with inlaid street names and information about historical buildings making the area more walkable.
Architectural street markers could also potentially line this portion of Gaetz Ave. and “light sticks” would be used throughout to brighten up the area at night.
“I like what I’m seeing. I think it’s great and it’s a start,” said Bev Krausher, a business owner in Red Deer’s downtown. “I think it’s just something that we need downtown. It’s encouraging to see this plan.”
She added she likes that the proposed plan invites people to the area.
“It will hopefully make people walk and stroll in this area,” said Krausher. “It enhances that feel and atmosphere where you want to poke your way from store to store.”
Frank Colosimo, the City’s engineering services manager said he thinks the plan is an exciting one.
“There’s a lot of elements that we’re proposing here through the downtown that will really balance out the needs of the pedestrian environment as well as the vehicles,” he said.
The design process has involved consultation with Gaetz Ave. business owners and other stakeholders.
The plan will be presented to City council in September.
In future years, council will be requested to provide financial support to the project. The first phase of the project is proposed for the 2011 budget year. This phase is expected to cost $2.8 million.