Members of the Conexus Credit Union (CCU) were greeted by protesters from the group “No Business in the Park” on Wednesday. Conexus held its annual general meeting at the Conexus Arts Centre located in Wascana Park.
Eric Dillon, CEO of Conexus, said he understands the group’s frustrations when it comes to commercialization of the park.
“I mean to be candid, I agree with the concern and we don’t support commercialization of the park just for the sake of building in it,” Dillon said. “That said, the reason we support (our) project is that we can solve a big number of community challenges by partnering with the university.”
Dillon is referring to the recent partnership CCU made with the University of Regina. An agreement was made for leased land from the university be given to CCU. In return, Conexus promised to donate $8.25 million to the U of R’s college campus renewal project.
“It’s not like this is Walmart being built in the park, but rather this is a community organization — a member-owned organization — that’s partnering with another community organization to solve some very big community challenges and at the same time supporting the revitalization of the college avenue campus.”
He said they’re in continuous discussions with various designers for the 80,000 square foot building. From heritage building designers to environmentally friendly building designers, they have all been in touch with Dillon.
He added when projects in the park were run by the Wascana Centre Authority (WCA), before it was transferred to the provincial capital commission, WCA had a long list of rules for any development in the park which CCU still stands by.
“(WCA) included things like sustainability, height, and fitting in with the ecosystem of the park — it’s our intention to live up to every one of those standards,” he said.
Dillon added they also hope to make their new headquarters the most environmentally sustainable building in the entire city.
Plans still need to be approved
Before a shovel full of dirt can be lifted, Deputy Minister of Central Services, Richard Murray, said various approvals are still needed from the Provincial Capital Commission (PCC) board.
He said the master plan for Wascana Park has been around since 1913 and they still use it to this day to decide what buildings could be built in the green space.
“There are hoops to go through,” Murray said, adding Conexus has been in the design process for a couple of years now and they’re getting close to a final plan which then they’ll submit to PCC. “There are (various) committees that will ensure that any proposal is in keeping with the look and feel of the park and it doesn’t block out any heritage buildings, or detract from any heritage buildings.”
Murray added even sight lines are protected throughout the park. The PCC will decide on the buildings fate this spring.