NEW LOOK - Pictured here is an artists' rendering of the expansion that is set to take place at the Centrium.

NEW LOOK - Pictured here is an artists' rendering of the expansion that is set to take place at the Centrium.

Red Deerians to see changes at Westerner Park in near future

Red Deerians can start watching for gradual changes to Westerner Park.

With help from the province, the City of Red Deer, and Red Deer County, Westerner Park’s Enmax Centrium is going to receive a much-anticipated upgrade.

Mayor of Red Deer County, Jim Wood, said this change is valuable because of the impact it will have on the entire region.

“Concerts that wouldn’t have come here because there wasn’t enough seating now will,” said Wood.

Wood also anticipates that the additional 1,000 seats and 14 luxury suites will help bring larger events that may bring international recognition to the City of Red Deer.

“With the new suites we will be designating one as a community box so service or community groups can use it and sell or auction the use of it off. It will benefit the community as a whole,” said Michael Donlevy, president of the board of directors at Westerner Park.

The enhancements to the facility will commence in May 2012 with an anticipated completion date of October 2012.

Culture and Community Spirit Minister Lindsay Blackett said it is great to be able to showcase Red Deer not only to Canada but to the rest of the world because “we are that good”.

Blackett was also presented $1.75 million to help the Westerner Exposition Association with the upgrades to the Centrium.

Funding in the amount of $1 million will come from the City of Red Deer, and the County of Red Deer has supplied $500,000 as well.

“This investment in the Westerner will bring economic, social and cultural rewards to Red Deer and communities throughout Central Alberta,” said Blackett.

Also in store for the Westerner Park are some other changes and adaptations to the growing population of the City.

Donlevy explained that Westerner Park is going to see some aesthetic changes that will benefit clients and customers alike.

Some of these changes include a walkway between the main buildings so that travel on the grounds will be sheltered.

The landfill site neighbouring the Westerner is currently leased to the park and will allow for additional parking spaces.

“We can’t build on the old landfill but we can put extra parking there and allow for outdoor events to be held in this space as well,” said Donlevy.

This additional parking will bring the number of parking stalls up to 4,400, which is more than some of the larger venues in other Alberta cities.

Westerner Park has already seen some changes in phases one and two of the development plan including the Donald Administration building that Donlevy said signifies the growth of the grounds.

Phase two saw deadfall cleared and the installation of a water feature and fountain. Donlevy said the goal is to make the park much more pedestrian friendly.

In an effort to make the park less of a parking lot and more of a visual pleasure 255 new trees and 1,200 shrubs were also planted on the grounds.