There’s still fun in the forecast!
May 04, 2020
We seem to be inundated these days with information about what we can’t do.
What’s closed, what’s cancelled and what places we’re all unable to go. Although each one of these closures, cancellations and restrictions is vitally important in flattening the curve and limiting the spread of COVID-19 in our community, they’re still disappointing – especially with summer right around the corner.
Last week we learned how the province plans to gradually re-open businesses and recreation opportunities. It’s a three-phase strategy that will take place over several months; it’s going be a while before things are back to the way they were pre-COVID. But, Red Deer is a resilient city. When life hands us lemons, we make the best lemonade. So, we decided to compile a list of the things that are still open, places we can go, and things we can do! This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it might give you a few ideas to pass the time and maybe even some inspiration to try something new!
What's open in Red Deer this summer?
- The parks: We’re a city built in a park! We have literally hundreds of acres of parkland and green space at our doorstep, all connected by an extensive trail system.
- Maskepetoon Park: An ecological gem tucked away in the west end of the city. Stroll along trails that wind through the forest and marshland while learning the history of Chief Maskepetoon, the park’s namesake and the Cree chief celebrated for promoting peace among the tribes of Central Alberta in 1800s. Access the park from Kerry Wood Drive, just north of the Red Deer Golf and Country Club.
- Bower Ponds: The playground and pavilion may be closed but there’s still lots to do at Red Deer’s favourite all-season park. Check out the serenity garden, take some artsy photos on the famous wooden bridge or learn the fascinating history of the Great West Lumber Company. Did you know Bower Ponds was once used to store giant logs before they were sent to the lumber mill? You might even catch a glimpse of the log drivers directing the massive trees down the “raceway” to the ponds!
- McKenzie Trails Recreation Area: Gaze up at some of the oldest trees in all of Waskasoo Park (we’re talkin’ over a hundred years old!) while taking in the serenity of the ponds and trails. From 55 street, go north on 45 avenue until the road ends and you’ll be there.
- Gaetz Lakes Sanctuary: Nature lovers, this is your jam. Explore over 120 acres of Alberta’s oldest federal migratory bird sanctuary. Bring your binoculars and camera; the sanctuary is a haven for native plants and animals. There are also five kilometers of trails to explore! The entrance into the sanctuary is on 45 street beside Kerry Wood Nature Centre.
- Heritage Ranch: It’s a 4.5 kilometer loop and how you do it, is up to you! Just out for a leisurely walk? Then go past the horse pasture and down a gentle hill through the forest until you reach Mitchell Pond (bring your fishing rod and try your luck with the trout!) Going down is the easy part. Need some cardio? Step onto the famous Heritage Ranch stairs and work your way from river-level, back up to the parking lot. You’ll be feeling the burn by the time you get to the top! Remember to keep your distance from others while doing this. Access the ranch by heading west on Cronquist Drive and follow the signs.
- Three Mile Bend and Oxbows: If there’s one member of the family who is absolutely thrilled with everyone being at home all. day. long. …it’s Fido! Bring your four-legged buddy for some exercise at one of Red Deer’s two designated off-leash dog parks. Make sure your pooch is properly licensed and vaccinated, and keep them on a leash until you’re inside the fenced area. Locations of both parks are here.
- The trails: What other city our size can boast over 110 kilometers of nature trails, all within the city limits? We can’t think of one! Get some exercise and get back to nature on the seemingly endless soft and hard-surface trails that traverse the Waskasoo Park system. It’ll do your heart good in more ways than one! Walk the dog, take a jog, go for a bike ride, or maybe even pull out your old rollerblades! (‘member those?) Want to learn a thing or two while getting your exercise? Try one of our self-guided Heritage Walking Tours! Discover the people and places that have helped shape our city. The “Ghost Collection” tour takes you to ten life-sized bronze statues of people (and animals, don’t forget about Francis!) scattered throughout the downtown. Meet the citizens who inspired the “ghosts” and learn about their lasting impact on our city. That’s just one of the walking tours! Learn about all of them here.
- The river: COVID may have closed and cancelled a lot of things, but last time we checked, the Red Deer River is still flowing! Let’s give Mother Nature a few more weeks to get rid of the ice and warm up the water, but when summer arrives, it’s yours for the taking! There’s nothing more relaxing on a hot summer day than a leisurely, socially-distanced float down the river on an inner tube. Do you have more of a need for speed? We have seven (count ‘em, seven!) boat and canoe launches within the city limits. Locations are here. (Make sure you have your Pleasure Craft Operator Card before operating any kind of motorized boat). Remember, don’t just pack it, wear your lifejacket, and ensure you have everything on your watercraft required by Transport Canada.
- The golf courses: Last week’s provincial relaunch announcement confirmed Alberta’s golf courses are free to open to the public beginning this month. We have two within the city limits, including River Bend, and dozens more are just a short drive away! The rules will be a little different and strict health guidelines must be followed (you won’t be allowed in the clubhouse, pins will stay in the hole, no handshakes!), but the snow is gone and soon the links will be ready FORE! you. Be sure to check out the course you wish to visit in advance for specific safety measures they may have in place.
These are just a few examples of the amenities that are still open and ready to use, as we navigate COVID-19. More information is available on our website at www.reddeer.ca. Be sure to check out our Facebook page Red Deer: Active at Home for ideas to keep you and your family physically and mentally active at home. And remember, COVID can close facilities and cancel events, but it can’t stop Red Deer from being Red Deer!
Getting out and enjoying nature is not cancelled.
Volunteering is not cancelled.
Hitting the links for a round of golf is not cancelled.
Learning to play an instrument is not cancelled.
Building a fort with your kids is not cancelled.
Enjoying a BBQ on the deck is not cancelled.
Teaching an old dog a new trick is not cancelled.
And SUMMER IS NOT CANCELLED!
When participating in any of the activities listed above, ensure public health orders are followed at all times including regulations for social distancing and mass gatherings. The latest health information is posted at www.alberta.ca/covid. For information about The City of Red Deer’s municipal response to COVID-19 visit www.reddeer.ca/covid-19.