The City of Lacombe has unveiled the first of many Downtown Area Redevelopment Plan projects and it’s one worth posting to social media. A large heart shaped arch has been installed at the corner of 50th Avenue and 52nd Street at the entrance to Lest We Forget Park located just outside of the Lacombe Memorial Centre.
“The reason for the landmark and a bunch of projects we're going to roll out over the next few years is to really add some heart to the place we live and work,” said Joe Whitbread, Chair of the Downtown Area Redevelopment Plan Committee.
The heart is also meant to stand for the silent ‘B’ in the word ‘Lacombe’ which has now become a little louder.
“Poetically, I mentioned that the ‘B’ doesn't need to be silent and shouldn't be silent. We want others from other communities to know we exist and we want our residents and our business owners to know.
We stemmed a great creative brainstorming conversation about not making the ‘B’ silent. Then we realized when tilted on its side it’s a heart,” explained Whitbread.
You can also see the tilted ‘B’ heart in other Lacombe branding on street light posts in the downtown area. The heart structure will light up and change colours for different seasons, holidays, and social causes.
The Downtown Area Redevelopment Committee is working on a variety of downtown area projects from a public space connector, string lights, improving pedestrian accessibility and several other items.
“There's a number of amazing projects that the DARP Committee is rolling out in our community, none that I can unfortunately release at this time. They are in talks. Some are tiny and some are very large and we only have so much money to deal with,” explained Whitbread.
Whitbread was not at liberty to share how much the heart structure cost the committee. The City of Lacombe has committed $1.7 million for DARP Priority Projects over the course of ten years.
“There may be even extra money available eventually, which is why there is no set plans yet, and I'm not at liberty to speak about what's been spent,” added Whitbread.
With the rise of inflation, City Council is concerned that the value of that amount of money dedicated to DARP will not be worth as much as they intended.
“Honestly, I wish we could do this over five-year period rather than a ten. That’s just my position because as fast as you make an aesthetic impact the more ‘wow factor’ you're going to be selling to bring people into Lacombe. We've got extremely wonderful generous volunteers and community and we have a lot of pride,” said Councillor Chris Ross who was acting as Deputy Mayor.
“Sometimes when you take inflation, and so forth you wonder. Right now, there's going to be some challenging times with budget inflation but probably it [DARP funding] will stay as it is for now,” added Ross.
Whitbread says this is the first of many projects to come out along the line and hopes the residents of Lacombe are excited to see what’s next.
“I think it's important that you become involved as well. You're always welcome to engage, to interact, and to offer positive or constructive feedback in what your community is doing for you,” added Whitbread.