Regina city council met Monday night, with a wide variety of topics up for debate.
Council voted to approve funding for Brandt Centre upgrades and for the 2018 Memorial Cup.
Council also voted to give the property at 3248 Albert Street municipal heritage status. The retaining wall around the home, however, was not granted the status.
Council also approved the city administrations report on redesigning the city’s official website.
But the most controversial topic of the night was a motion to make Regina an access without fear city.
Brought forward by Ward 3 councillor Andrew Stevens, it would recognize Regina as a place where people would have access to city services regardless of their immigration status.
Council heard from 14 delegates on the issue, many sharing stories of times they have been scared to use services because of their immigration status.
After a lengthy debate, council voted to instead make a referral, sending it to the provincial and federal governments.
“We do not ask for immigration status, we never do,” Fougere said.
“The more effective way to do this is to say we don’t do it, let’s make sure we have a conversation with the province that deals with immigration and the federal government that deals with immigration and settlement services to say look you should be dealing with this issue as well.”
Video and comments from the delegates will be included in the city’s letters to the province and Ottawa on this issue.
An undertaking was also approved in order to find ways to educate the public about having access to city services without fear.
Stevens says he was disappointed but it wasn’t a total loss for him.
“I was pleased that new residents who have really never come to council had a chance to speak about this issue. I think it brought new facts to light and I was really pleased that council and the mayor were sympathetic to those concerns,” Stevens said.
He said he supports the language of the referral and the undertaking but thinks council should have taken a different route.
Stevens said the access without fear title would’ve been “a lot more focused and it would’ve been more systematic.”
Fougere said he will report back to council if he gets a response from the province or Ottawa.
Taxi bylaw changes inch closer
While the proposed changes still need to be read one more time at council, changes to the city’s taxi took another step Monday.
Council voted to approve the changes, which would include additional safety measures — such as sound being enabled for all cameras and drivers being able to refuse rides due to safety reasons — and a cleanup fee of up to $100 for customers that make a mess by puking or any other bodily fluids.
The item that received the most attention was a creation of a lottery system for seasonal taxi licenses.
Sandy Archibald, manager at Regina Cabs, says the existing bylaw “allocates 37 per cent of each fleet size can grow from October to April to provide additional service to the customers.”
She said brokers roll out those licenses to owners which put the vehicles on.
The proposed change was to have 60 per cent of licenses given to brokers with 40 per cent distributed under an open license.
Council decided if they were going to experiment with this system, it should be taken a step further so the amendment was changed to 60 per cent open lottery and 40 per cent given to brokers.
“Some councillors referred to this as an experiment and I didn’t think that running a business in Regina should be an experiment.”
She says the open lottery will allow anyone over the age of 18 to get a license, even without any prior experience. She says this could cause a decrease in the quality cab companies can provide for people in Regina.
Council wants a report of the success, or failures, of the lottery system next year.