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Final draft of Open Space Master Plan gets thumbs up

Cochrane council unanimously approved the final draft of the Open Space Master Plan (OSMP) during their regular meeting Nov. 26.
Graphic depicting proposed boat launch for Riverfront Park.
Graphic depicting proposed boat launch for Riverfront Park.

Cochrane council unanimously approved the final draft of the Open Space Master Plan (OSMP) during their regular meeting Nov. 26.

Having worked on the plan for nine months, Douglas Olson of O2 Planning presented some of the highlights of the completed product to the mayor and council members, which included some changes made to the plan following what Olson said was an extensive public engagement.

Some of those changes included adding mountain biking trails, widening pathways and creating new pathway connections.

“Accessibility is important,” said Olson, adding that the amount of open space is not always the primary concern.

With this approved OSMP, the town of Cochrane will boast 22.4 per cent of its land as open space.

Red Deer currently holds the highest percentage of open space at 25.

Riverfront Park will perhaps be the most significant feature of the OSMP.

It will encompass several features, such as kids play areas, a boat launch and connections to downtown and throughout Cochrane.

“Yes, we are creating parks,” said Olson, “but we’re also connecting parks.”

“This is an excellent addition to our planning framework in Cochrane,” said Mayor Truper McBride.

Work on Riverfront Park is to begin next year. Olson stressed that the park needs little done to it to make it the draw the community hopes it to be, but will rather maintain its characteristics while enhancing its features.

Once complete, the park will have 10 different zones for residents and visitors to enjoy.

The total cost of the OSMP is broken up into four categories: short term ($4,198,930), medium term ($10,857,400), long term 10-15 years ($7,333,700) and long term 15-20 years ($1,560,000).

Along with Riverfront Park, some of the highlights of the OSMP include upgrades to the Cochrane Ranche site and Mitford Park. Developments will include an off-leash dog park at West Valley, a ‘major’ park between River Ave. and RiversEdge Campground and an Athletic Park on the Burnco site near Spray Lake Sawmills Family Sports Centre.

Councillor Jeff Toews suggested firepits and covered picnic areas in some of the various parks be proposed in the plan. Senior manager of community services Susan Gaida said all ideas will be entertained once they begin planning what each park and area will feature.