FUNDING - Red Deer-North MLA Kim Schreiner, Tom Marr-Laing, president of Parkland Cross-Country Ski Club and Barb Miller, MLA for Red Deer-South are pictured during a funding announcement for trail enhancements at the River Bend Golf and Recreation Area. Mark Weber/Red Deer Express

Provincial funding set to enhance trail system at River Bend

The site will also be used during the 2019 Canada Winter Games

The Parkland Cross-Country Ski Club has landed a $200,000 shot in the arm from the Province for trail expansion and enhancements at River Bend Golf and Recreation Area.

The Community Facility Enhancement Program grant will, “Continue to develop River Bend as a regional multi-use, multi-sport facility,” said Tom Marr-Laing, president of Parkland Cross-Country Ski Club. The site will also be used for some events during the 2019 Canada Winter Games next February.

“Because the Canada Winter Games are coming to Red Deer, the City has already been actively involved in doing a series of upgrades and renovations to the site,” said Marr-Laing.

Looking ahead, further enhancements are focused on completing the renovations to the trails, installing 4km of trail lighting and developing some permanent snowmaking infrastructure, he said.

“We’re also pretty excited about it as a cross country ski team,” he said. “But it isn’t just for skiing and biathlon that this work is being done. These trails are actively used by a wide range of people in Red Deer and Central Alberta,” he said, pointing out that the scenic stretch of land is also popular with hikers, dog-walkers, mountain bikers, runners and snow-shoe enthusiasts as well.

“They will all be able to benefit from this.”

Parkland’s ability to secure the CFEP grant was based on leveraging the City of Red Deer funds used for the Canada Winter Games-focused developments at River Bend.

In partnership with the City, River Bend Golf and Recreation Area and the Canada Winter Games, this grant also provides Parkland with the resources needed to fully develop the community’s long-term legacy vision for River Bend’s multi-use trail system.

MLA Kim Schreiner said that it’s because of projects like this that the provincial grant was created.

“It’s a program that helps to empower local citizens and community organizations to work together and to respond to local needs,” she said.

“The legacy of the 2019 Canada Winter Games has paved the way for opportunity to not only showcase our great City, but to build on it for future generations of Red Deerians and Central Albertans.”

Deputy Mayor Lawrence Lee noted that the investment is not just for today. “It’s for the future generation ahead of us as well. This investment also speaks to the fact that it’s not just the novice or the technical skier or cross country runner – it’s for everybody.

“Anybody in the community will be able to embrace and to experience these facilities and the enhancements to our current trail system that we will be leaving as a legacy. It’s part of the Canada Winter Games for sure, but more importantly (it’s) part of our community that has always held the importance of daily physical activity.”

Brian Miller, general manager of the River Bend Golf and Recreation Area, said that the site is a jewel for anyone to come and utilize anytime through the year.

“It’s about relaxing in a fine place that is close to the City and that everyone has access to. And to improve it now going forward, we look forward to those changes in multi-use (aspects) for many people to use for many, many years to come.”

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