New park benches in works for downtown river stretch

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New park benches will provide several resting spots along the north shore of the Sturgeon River in St. Albert between Chateau Mission Court and St. Albert Centre.

That stretch currently has no benches, which has been a bone of contention for area seniors.

Council heard Monday that city officials plan to install about five benches along that section of Red Willow Park.

The benches will come from the city’s existing bench program, which is normally used to replace worn-out benches. To provide the new benches the city will forego the replacement of five old benches elsewhere in the city, said community and protective services general manager Chris Jardine.

“We’ve identified that we could, as we’re doing the replacement program, put benches in that area as there’s desire for that and not replace some in a few of the other areas,” he said.

The city plans to replace between 40 and 50 benches in 2011, Jardine said.

Coun. Cathy Heron said that stretch of trail along the river is in dire need of benches. She was happy to hear they will be added.

“It’s just a simple but highly visible thing we can do for our citizens. It’s just benches and they’re not that expensive,” she said.

All the council candidates attended a social event in the area in October before the election, Heron said.

“Quite a few of the residents at Chateau Mission Court talked to me about it,” she said.

There’s a play park in the area that has no benches for parents to use while their children are playing, she said.

Jardine didn’t have a timeline for the project other than sometime between May and September.

“I will be knocking on Chris’ door probably in about March … because they need them,” Heron said.

Council had approved $10,000 for the new benches in the 2011 capital budget. But there was confusion at the time about the extent of the city’s existing bench programs.

Upon learning Monday that the benches could be provided through the existing bench replacement program, council voted to reduce the capital budget by $10,000 when the tax rate bylaw comes forward in May.

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