Sunday, 15 February 2015

Red Deer Is A Great Place To Live

Hey everyone,

I recently wrote a letter to the editor of the Red Deer Advocate. Below is a copy of the letter:


I would like to thank the visionary leaders of our city who made Red Deer such a wonderful place to live. Looking back there have been many pivotal moments in the history of our city and thanks to the continued foresight of so many passionate citizens, we continue to see successes built upon successes. 

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The preservation of the Gaetz Lake Sanctuary is one of those successes. That we have such a pristine site right in the middle of our city is truly a testament to the strong sense of environmental stewardship we Red Deerians have! It took the visionary leadership of many citizens to set aside this land to be preserved. When our city was just starting to grow there was an abundance of pristine nature all around us. But the value of the Gaetz Lakes were understood and the vision of environmental sustainability was carried forward for future generations. 

It's hard to imagine that the train once came through what is now Taylor Drive and that the downtown station at the end of Ross was once the central hub of our city, complete with grain elevators! The railroad that once connected our city to the rest of Canada and drove our economic engine is now a celebrated memory.

When the railroad was routed around our city the bridge which had stood the test of time for many decades was actually slated for demolition! It was thanks to visionary leadership that the bridge was preserved and revitalized into a heritage landmark and is now a vital integration of our celebrated trail system. People in our city love the trails and want to see this asset continue to expand as our city grows. In fact the entire Waskasoo Park system is a treasure; thanks to so many devoted people who make it happen.

Now, it is easy to take for granted that the Red Deer river is so pristine, but it is so by design. The Red Deer river watershed is a strategic resource and through many initiatives it is being sustained. One such initiative is the vision of a regional wastewater treatment system which ensures a world class standard of wastewater management. Sewage from regional communities is diverted to Red Deer's central facility and treated thus enhancing the sustainability of our watershed. It's a solution that has been years in the making and is just now coming to fruition.  

Looking forward to the development of the Riverlands, how many cities get the chance to fully redevelop 1/3 of their downtown from scratch? What an amazing opportunity we have! Thanks to many people who worked on the vision of our city's downtown, the civic yards were moved to their new site and upgraded to their precedent setting environmental standards. Future development in our city will be held in contrast to those distinguished standards. Now the entire area across the river from Bower Ponds has been opened up for the future! The Riverlands will be a great source of pride for our city thanks to the vision of many community leaders.

If you get a chance, look at the satellite view of Red Deer on Google Maps; you will see the right of way for the North Highway Connector from 30th Ave to highway 11A. The plan to further connect North and South has been in the works for decades and we will see it unfold in the next few years. The bridge we will build across the river is truly a bridge to the future.

This note comes with a mention of caution. As our city grows and matures we should look to and learn from the successes of our past and of from the successes of other cities. What has worked well elsewhere in Alberta? What has worked well elsewhere in the world? How did other cities adapt and grow over time and how can we learn from them and emulate their best ideas? 

Looking to the future, what is in store for our city? Will the paradigms of the past continue to serve us? How will progressive trends in vehicle technology change our mobility? How will advancing trends in renewables change how we get our energy? What will the effects of climate change be and how will we adapt? How will we stay competitive in an increasingly more volatile global economy? How will we continue to realize our shared value of social justice and continue to make our city safer and more homeFULL?

I commend the leaders in our community who continue to build upon the successes of the past and who are rising up to current challenges with bold new ideas and creative solutions. I am very optimistic for the future of Red Deer. I have confidence that Red Deerians will continue to demonstrate visionary leadership. Surely, great things will continue to happen here.

Jonathan Wieler (@Wieler4RD) - Red Deer

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