FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, June 20, 2017
HIGH RIVER, AB: The Town of High River received an Award of Merit on June 19 at the annual Building Resilience Conference in Calgary for the 2015 High River Downtown Area Redevelopment Plan (ARP) and Public Realm Revitalization.
The award for Planning Excellence in the category of Rural/Small Town Planning was presented to Khalid Mohammed, manager of planning and development services for High River. The conference for the Canadian Institute of Planners, in partnership with the Alberta Professional Planning Institute, also recognized the Town’s partner for the development of the Downtown ARP, O2 Planning + Design Inc.
“The Town has invested a great deal in new infrastructure throughout High River, including completely redesigning the downtown core to be a walkable, people-focused area that is great for businesses, as well as for hosting special events like outdoor markets, parades and festivals,” says High River Mayor Craig Snodgrass.
In the years since the Alberta floods, High River has utilized a ‘build it back better’ mentality and made several innovative improvements. These include wide, pedestrian-friendly sidewalks, naturalized parks and green spaces and incorporating flood mitigation into existing pedestrian and cycling pathway systems for beautification and functionality.
“The majority of downtowns across the country are designed for cars, while people are usually ignored, and it becomes hit and miss for pedestrians,” says Mohammed. “The High River Downtown ARP got it right, as its design puts people first by fostering inviting places to live, meet-up, socialize, shop and celebrate, throughout the day and into the evening,”
In addition to the new downtown, more than $200 million has been invested in flood mitigation to protect new and existing residents and businesses, making High River one of the most well-protected communities in Canada from flooding.
“We are sending the message to our residents and the rest of Canada that we committed to building a thriving community and High River is back and better than we ever were before,” adds Snodgrass. “The town has changed for the better, and people should come out and see what has been done.”
The Town has used the mitigation theme to create a new Land Use Bylaw ensuring that current and future growth areas are safe and that hazard mitigation activities are consistent with the land use priorities and community vision.
“We are seeing new businesses opening in High River almost weekly, and just last week we broke ground on another new housing and retail development in the south end of town,” says Jodi Dawson, manager of economic development for the Town. “To me, this just proves that all of the work the Town has put into flood mitigation is building confidence in High River—not just with current residents and business owners but for those who are looking to move or start new ventures here.”
The Downtown Area Redevelopment Plan created a tangible vision for the area, and now the Town’s new innovative Land Use Bylaw will provide many more development opportunities to encourage continued growth.