Canada Games Celebration Plaza reimagines downtown Red Deer

Wednesday, 4th April 2018

This content originally appeared in the Red Deer Advocate on March 31, 2018.

The 2019 Canada Winter Games will bring more to Red Deer than just the nation’s best young athletes. In February 2019, Red Deer will also host a major arts and cultural festival in downtown Red Deer in a brand new community space: the Canada Games Celebration Plaza.

The Canada Games Celebration Plaza is the result of a collaborative community planning process. We established a committee of 2019 Games Board of Governors members and central Alberta community members to determine the best location. We wanted the location to be accessible and central while also finding a place that could improve the quality of life for the residents near the festival site

Around the same time, Red Deer Public School District (RDPSD) donated the Central Elementary School building to the City of Red Deer and the City made plans to refurbish the building into a culture facility. RDPSD was open to the possibility of expansion onto their grounds at Central Middle School to build an outdoor learning area that could create a new community hub for central Alberta. As this site was further investigated, four benefits strongly emerged.

The first is the revitalization of the downtown area north of Ross Street. Studies have shown that revitalization leads to new small businesses, neighbourhood pride and a stronger community. The Celebration Plaza offers a significant improvement to the space used by Central Middle School students and local residents will gain a new respect and pride in their community.

The Celebration Plaza will create the space, capacity and infrastructure for future major arts and cultural festivals in Red Deer, all without the need of shutting down any main arteries within the downtown. Our community has already hosted memorable events like the Red Deer is Ready Rally, Memorial Cup parade, Red Deer Lights the Night, Centrefest, Tour of Alberta, Fiestaval and more. The Celebration Plaza allows us to create more community-focused events like this and build a stronger central Alberta.

By partnering with the RDPSD, we can create an outdoor learning centre right outside Central Middle School. This will lead to unique outdoor teaching spaces for generations of students to come.

We also need to create a permanent place to honour the volunteers in our community. What better place for this to happen than a site built by a Host Society needing 5,000 Games time volunteers?

We can’t wait to open this incredible community space. The Canada Games Celebration Plaza design incorporates different elements like lighting, a large accessible ramp, wide stairs to open the area from the street, re-landscaped, benches, a volunteer recognition wall, a plaza donor recognition wall, stage area, art piece and playground redevelopment. It will be like nothing our community has ever seen before.

The Sheraton Celebrity Dance Off is helping us make the Canada Games Celebration Plaza a reality. On April 14, eight community leaders and their professional dance partners will step on the dance floor and proceeds from the night will go to building this community facility.

During the 2019 Canada Games Festival, we will have the opportunity to showcase the Celebration Plaza to the nation. The Canada Games cauldron will be placed in the centre of the plaza and we will create a festival atmosphere downtown. It will truly be a time where our community will swell with pride, seeing this vision become reality and celebrating our accomplishments!

This is our moment to transform our community. The Canada Games Celebration Plaza will change the fabric of Red Deer and central Alberta well after the 2019 Games have come and gone.

Lyn Radford
Board Chair, 2019 Canada Winter Games