Regina city council is taking a stand against future commercial development in Wascana Park.
After hearing from 10 delegations and reading four letters at Monday night’s council meeting, councillors debated and voted unanimously to oppose future development in the park.
Mayor Michael Fougere will be sending a letter outlining this position to the Saskatchewan government and the Provincial Capital Commission (PCC), which now has authority over Wascana Park.
Fougere explained this does not mean a complete ban on future development, but added it should fit within the master plan, which allows for some expansion of the university and the city.
“But under very strict guidelines, and to allow for a public consultation process involved as well so there is more public input on what happens in the future in the park,” Fougere said.
The mayor noted under the previous Wascana Centre Authority partnership, the city had three seats on the 11-person board which governed the park.
“We had a good balance of competing interests and getting a common vision to work together,” Fougere said, adding it provided a good balance of competing interests to make decisions.
The governance model has changed under the new PCC, which gives the city and the university one representative each on the five-member board, with the three other seats given to the province.
He said that balance of power is no longer there and the provincial government can essentially decide unilaterally what to do with the land in Wascana Park.
“It’s a concern we have that we’re more of a junior partner, not a full partner that can really have the balance that we had with Wascana Centre Authority, so we’re looking for more of a balance back again that way,” Fougere said.
In 2016, city council approved the donation of a piece of land in Wascana Park to the University of Regina to clear the path for the development of the Conexus Credit Union head office under a partnership to revitalize the College Avenue campus buildings, including Darke Hall. Link:
The Conexus project was initially approved by the Wascana Centre Authority with the final designs being approved by the new PCC.
Fougere noted while that development may be controversial to some people, he supports it because it revitalizes Darke Hall and the College Avenue campus and the building site is attached to the campus and not within the rest of the park.
The new CNIB building and Brandt building were approved by the capital commission and Fougere said the city really didn’t have a say in those developments.
City gives final approval to zoning bylaw for pot shops
At the same meeting Monday night, city council also gave the final vote of approval for the zoning bylaws to govern pot dispensaries.
The initial bylaw had to be amended when it was brought to council’s attention that it left room for future daycare centres to move into the buffer zone around future marijuana dispensaries.
The report was already passed, but in this third and final reading it did not require a unanimous vote.