The City of Red Deer turned 100 this year (1913–2013), kicking off a full year of events and celebrations. ISL recently completed some popular projects in Red Deer, both of which have had high public visibility and community involvement. The Red Deer Centennial Spray & Play Park project was commissioned in 2012 as part of Red Deer’s centennial celebrations and opened on August 13, 2013, to rave reviews from ecstatic children and families. The Gaetz Avenue Revitalization project was started in 2010 and included ISL team members from Red Deer, Edmonton and Calgary from many different disciplines, including Landscape Architecture, Municipal, Transportation, Land Use Planning, Land Development and Structural. Both of these projects have been well received and showcase ISL’s multidisciplinary versatility when it comes to tackling all types of municipal projects.
Photo courtesy of Playworks Inc.
As Red Deer’s first public spray park and incorporating themes relating to Red Deer’s centennial celebrations, the officially named Blue Grass Sod Farms Central Spray & Play Park started construction in March 2013 and was ready for its grand opening in less than six months. Some notable features of this spray park are its 7500 sq. ft. spray pad with 35 spray toys and two dump buckets as well as a chlorinated water reuse/filtration system that saves upwards of 30,000 gallons of water per day, fulfilling the park’s design as a low impact, sustainable amenity.
Some of the thematic elements to celebrate Red Deer’s rich history and environment include a railway trestle spray feature that replicates the old CP Rail bridge crossing the Red Deer River, a train crossing signal and a thematic blue river feature meant to mimic the path of the Red Deer River that also includes water sprays.
The new spray park was built in the northwest corner of the Rotary Recreation Park, which is also home to the Red Deer Recreation Centre, museum, art gallery and the Golden Circle Senior Resource Centre, as well as having indoor and outdoor tennis courts, a speed skating oval, playgrounds and picnic facilities. Needless to say, this spray park is the perfect addition to an already busy hub in the middle of Red Deer.
Once a part of the Calgary–Edmonton Trail until the highway bypassed around Red Deer, Gaetz Avenue is an important part of the commercial history of the city, being home to historical buildings, unique businesses and a diversity of visitors and residents. In 2008, the City of Red Deer updated its Greater Downtown Action Plan (GDAP) with recommendations and policies geared towards revitalizing the downtown core, and Gaetz Avenue is the main conduit that connects the entire downtown. The GDAP Committee was consulted in the early design stages to establish a “do” and “do not” list of potential improvements based on their intimate knowledge of Red Deer’s downtown needs, and their suggestions guided the design process. The project was completed in two phases and all businesses were able to stay open during the construction period.
The streetscaping design was informed by a “pedestrian first” mantra, leading to wider sidewalks, rolled curbs and dropped street corners, as well as mid-block crosswalks with well-marked crosswalks to limit jaywalking. Since most of the sidewalks, roads and curbs were still in good condition, they were retained and only slightly modified by adding saw-cut patterning and paving stone cut-outs. This approach saved time and money and promoted sustainability by reducing demolition and waste materials. To make the roadway safer, alternating angle parking—known as “chicane” parking—slows down the vehicles as they wind back and forth through the streetscape.
Unique architectural street markers delineate each block of Gaetz Avenue, providing directional cues while also offering visual appeal and continuity with the same features found on the sidewalk benches, trash bins, street lighting, metal rail fences and gateway arch. Historical building markers were also incorporated into the design, as were sand-blasted sidewalk wayfinding elements pointing to notable buildings and tourist sites.
To help you get a sense of the transformation, here is a before and after gallery of key spots along Gaetz Avenue:Click photos to view fullscreen