City officials and residents gathered in the Club House Friday for the grand opening of River Bend Golf and Recreation Area’s enhancements which have been completed in anticipation of the 2019 Canada Winter Games.
“As one of Red Deer’s most utilized and much loved parks, River Bend’s modernizations have already demonstrated benefits for Red Deerians and our fellow Central Albertans who seek year-round recreational opportunities,” said Mayor Tara Veer.
The improvements included the construction of a stadium area for spectators and a shed for timekeepers and media.
Five and a half kilometers of trails were widened in accordance with regulations for cross-country skiing and the biathlon range was renovated.
Officials said that the community is already benefiting from developments being implemented for the Games.
“The 2019 Canada Winter Games will be the biggest event in the history of Central Alberta, and already the impact of the Games is being felt in our community with the opening of the legacy facilities and the hosting of test events,” said Scott Robinson, CEO of the 2019 Canada Winter Games Host Society, referring to the North American Cup, Western Canadian Championships and Calforex Biathlon Cup this weekend.
According to officials, the enhancements will benefit Central Alberta and the City by boosting the economy.
“Red Deer is proving ourselves as a sought after sports tourism destination, as competitors from across North America are choosing our City and indeed choosing to compete at our River Bend,” said Veer.
Officials say the enhancements will also offer the community increased premium all-season recreational areas.
The widened trails will allow better access for skate-skiing, winter biking and other multi-trail uses.
Sarah Cockerill, director of community services for the City, recognized partners in the project for their contributions.
She specifically mentioned the insights offered by the Parkland Cross-Country Ski Club who worked closely alongside City staff and contractors to provide skiers’ perspective into trail development, to ensure a lasting legacy for the community to benefit from for both recreational and competitive skiing.
River Bend Golf and Recreation Society was also recognized for helping to ensure that the area remained accessible to the community throughout the project.
“Red Deer River Naturalists offered their expertise and guidance as the City worked to honour the natural beauty of this area through recreational development,” Cockerill said.
Also in attendance at the ceremony were Barb Miller, MLA for Red Deer-South and MLA for Red Deer-North Kim Schreiner as well as most of Red Deer’s City councillors.
Residents were also welcomed to River Bend Golf and Recreation Area for complementary food and beverages as well as to try out cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.
Biathlon racing will take place on Saturday and Sunday and are open for the public to attend.