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historic CPR river bridge now used as a trail link to downtown

Gaetz & Ross the creators of downtown Red Deer

Canadian Pacific locomotives

Alexander Way Red Deer

entrance to historic Red Deer CPR station

Downtown Red Deer
 
Mintlaw ACR trestle





















 


Red Deer Downtown/Rail Yard District/Riverlands Redevelopment Proposal 2008
'Moving People by Rail' Themed Community
Celebrating the City's Past as a Passenger Hub and
Showcasing the Future Potential of Moving People by Rail

CPR bridge across Red Deer River near Gaetz homesteadFor 94 years, the Canadian Pacific, and to a lesser extent Canadian National, moved people in and out of Red Deer, from the earliest passenger trains carrying immigrants in 1891, the troop trains of the two world wars, the intercity Jubilee Chinooks of the mid-1930's until the mid-1950's to the dayliners from the mid-1950's until 1985.

Cheap gas, the love affair with the automobile and regional to international air service made passenger service unprofitable for the railways and toward the end, the railway did everything in its power to discourage passengers from using rail.

Times have changed -- gas is no longer cheap, people are developing a greater awareness of the limitations and effects of fossil fuels, more people are looking for transportation alternatives and there's a great potential for the revival of rail as a people mover. The long-discussed high speed rail linking Calgary-Red Deer-Edmonton and beyond is gaining momentum.

Railway graphic along Alexander WayMajor road corridors have created barriers for the free-flowing of moving pedestrians and bicycles in and around downtown Red Deer, the Cannery Row district and to the soon-to-be-redeveloped Riverlands area almost as much as the railway had done before it was relocated to the west side of the city.

The Riverlands area itself is isolated from the rest of downtown by the thoroughfare Taylor Drive and there is limited vehicle and pedestrian access into the area.

front of historic CPR station downtown Red DeerThis challenge, combined with the proposed concept of developing new themed communities, creates an opportunity to showcase and celebrate the role of rail travel both in the past and in the future as a means to move people effectively.

The Red Deer downtown has already embraced to some degree the importance of the railway to the growth of the city.

rail side of restored Red Deer CPR station downtownThe old railway station, the railway pedestrian bridge, the old Alberta Central Railway bridge support along Taylor Drive and the water fountain splash park already exist as part of the railway heritage. And a few miles away is the 2nd largest steel Canadian Pacific railway bridge in Alberta crossing the Red Deer River.

Alexander Way street signAlexander Way already carries a railway theme that could be expanded greatly to create a major tourist attraction while at the same time showcase innovative ways of moving people by rail and moving people effectively through the downtown area.

heritage-style streetcarA type of tram or street car (heritage or modern), light rail passenger car or even monorail connecting the existing downtown to the Riverlands area along Alexander Way and across Taylor Drive, either at street level or overhead, provides an opportunity to explore energy-efficient and environment-friendly transportation options for moving people around, both as a tourist attraction and research project.

modern tramA similar rail linkage people-mover system could ultimately be expanded to other parts of Red Deer including Red Deer College, Westerner Park, Bower Ponds and the future High Speed Rail Terminal. A special corridor should be established dedicated to public transit and trails until a rail line is feasible.

modern urban streetcarSuch a system would permit high density housing in the downtown area of Cannery Row (the proposed Rail Yard redevelopment district) while providing access to a major culture, arts and/or heritage centre in the Riverlands area without the need to create an elaborate road network within the community.

Future rail corridors should be combined with walking and bicycle trails or sidewalks for multi modes of travel that reduce our dependence on cars. A linear park system with water features using captured stormwater as well as other highlight features such as town squares, band shells, public art, gazebos and gardens could punctuate the corridors.

CP DaylinerCombined or separate interpretive centres could highlight both the past and future of rail travel. One could feature the future potential of eco-friendly rail travel while another could house scale models of downtown Red Deer at different periods of its history with corresponding operating model trains.

CP 3001 Jubilee ChinookA full-size rail museum would be possible, but as an alternative, original or full-size replicas of the passenger trains, locomotives and other equipment that ran out of the Red Deer downtown, such as the Dayliner and the Jubilee Chinook could be displayed throughout the rail-themed community. Displays could also include future passenger concepts. Children's parks could feature rail-themed rides and furniture.

The overall theme could be carried through the entire downtown area including the east side of downtown in the vicinity of the museum/recreation centre area where trains once roamed and today supports high density housing.

The railway had a major impact on the development of Red Deer and its downtown and is an integral part of the city's heritage. The opportunity exists now to celebrate that heritage as part of a renewal of the downtown and potential to create a major tourist attraction.

This proposal with several modifications and additions is now part of the Forth Junction Project proposal for a major tourist and community attractor for downtown Red Deer and Red Deer County developed by the Forth Junction Heritage Society in 2009.

            Historic Railway Background to Red Deer Downtown Redevelopment Proposal
            The Alberta Central Heritage Model Rail Project

Railway Heritage Preservation in Central Alberta
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