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Happy to hear more talk on
large scale attractions

reprinted from Red Deer Advocate February 10, 2010; online (Leo Pare) February 5, 2010

Since the canals project dried up in late 2008, there hasn't been much talk around Red Deer's future as a tourism destination.

The Advocate recently posted an online poll which revealed readers' dismal evaluation of our tourism appeal. Online commenters fiercely debated Red Deer's ups and downs. Some touted amenities like camp sites, rec facilities, and natural landscape -- all of which are tremendous community assets to be sure -- but let's be realistic. Nobody is packing up the family and travelling 500 kilometres to visit the Red Deer Museum or the Lion's Campground.

I thought the canals idea has serious potential for our community, but with a nation-wide recession looming, people weren't keen on millions of tax dollars being invested into such a frivolous project.

The crushing of the canals idea left us with the impression there was little appetite for grandiose tourism schemes in Red Deer, so I was a bit surprised to see this story on the front page of Thursday's Advocate: 'World-class attraction proposed for Riverlands'.

It seems a group of forward-thinking folks have been carefully crafting a new idea that would, in theory, turn Red Deer into a major tourist destination. Their extravagant proposal includes children's theme park, a ground transportation museum in the heart of Riverlands, visitor accommodations modelled after historic rail stations and a nature park.

Forth Junction Heritage Society president Paul Pettypiece told the Advocate the "very bold and ambitious" concept will take about 20 years to fully develop, a lot of work and millions of dollars to realize.

It's nice to see somebody taking tourism seriously in Central Alberta.

Undoubtedly, the opponents to this new idea are already forming their protests in acrimonious letters to the local newspapers and politicians.

Well naysayers, it comes down to the old mantra of 'you gotta spend money to make money.' When it comes to investing in tourism, go big or go home.

As residents of my hometown of Chauvin can attest, being home to the old spherical septic tank they converted to be the World's Largest Softball hasn't generated much tourism over the past 25 years. And I doubt many folks are pulling out the motorhome for a weekend at the giant Glendon Perogy or St. Paul's UFO landing pad.

Establishing ourselves as a must-visit location means thinking on a grand scale and investing millions of dollars.

If Red Deer is serious about becoming a tourism destination, then we need to get serious about providing visitors with attractions worth travelling for.

News articles about the Forth Junction Heritage Society (more below):
       News article: World-class destination centre still in the works (Innisfail Province Nov.2013)
       Editorial: Praise today's big dream
(Innisfail Province Jan.2012)
       Editorial: Railway concept captures region's uniqueness (Olds Albertan Jan.2012)
       Feature article: Forth Junction targets county
(Mountain View Gazette Dec.2011)
       News article: Forth Junction pulling toward a new station
(Red Deer Advocate Dec.2011)

News articles related to ACR/CPR Mintlaw bridge mentioning the Forth Junction Heritage Society:
       News article: Plans for Mintlaw Bridge waiting on public feedback
(Mountain View Gazette Feb.2012)
       News article: Opposition comes forward to Mintlaw Bridge preservation
(Mountain View Gazette May 2011)
       News article: RD County antes up for Mintlaw Bridge repairs
(Mountain View Gazette Nov.2010)
       News article: Bridging gap between history and disrepair
(Red Deer Advocate Nov.2010)

News article related to regional model and miniature railways mentioning the Forth Junction Project:

       News article: Trains still roll for some
(Red Deer Advocate Nov.2012)

News articles related to historic downtown Red Deer redevelopment mentioning the Forth Junction Project
(the original vision of the Forth Junction Heritage Society included an attraction in the new downtown
Riverlands but this vision was modified to have one destination close to the city and active rail line):

       News article: Railyards: Open house on a 20-year plan for downtown
(Red Deer Advocate June 2011)
       News article: Riverlands: Strong turnout for open house
(Red Deer Advocate March 2011)
       Commentary: Red Deer could use more bold visionary landmark designers
(Red Deer Express Sep.2010)

Michael Dawe articles related to regional railway heritage mentioning the Forth Junction Heritage Society:
       Region celebrating century of railroad heritage (Red Deer Express March 2010)
       Mintlaw Bridge essential to region's railroad heritage (Red Deer Express March 2010)


 News articles about the Forth Junction Heritage Society:
World-class destination centre still in the works 11/13       Praise today's big dream 01/12       Forth Junction targets county 12/11 
Forth Junction pulling toward a new station
12/11        A volunteer on the right track 12/10        Tourism board supports rail project 10/10
Forth Junction rail project seeking charitable status
10/10        Rail tourist attraction idea gets rolling 07/10        Railway heritage 06/10
New idea for Riverlands worth an Olympic cheer 02/10       Happy to hear more talk on large-scale attractions 02/10
One-time opportunity 02/10       Tourism proposal facing obstacles 02/10       World-class attraction proposed for Riverlands 02/10

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