Regina’s mayor took some time on Thursday morning to reflect on the year that was, and look ahead to what 2019 is going to bring.
Michael Fougere was speaking to a Regina Chamber of Commerce end-of-year breakfast.
He touted the successes for Regina in 2018, calling it the year of the events, talking about events the city hosted like the Memorial Cup and the LPGA CP Women’s Open.
“We had CP and the LPGA themselves say this was a wonderful experience, a wonderful job,” he said.
There were also challenges this year, like the economy, pipelines and trade, he said.
“I just don’t understand how we can have a trade agreement where you have tariffs in place. It’s just not a place anybody should be at.”
Fougere said every industry that uses steel is being affected by the tariffs, calling them punitive, unnecessary and illegal.
The oil industry is a big part of Regina’s economy, as well as Saskatchewan’s; Fougere said he pushes for more pipelines whenever he can – in the media, at the big city mayor’s meeting and when he met with the prime minister.
“We need to have a pipeline built that gets our oil, our petroleum to tidewater. If you’re going to buy a pipeline, make sure you build it.”
There is a bright spot on the horizon for Regina’s economy though, Fougere said. He’s excited about Protein Industries Canada and the supercluster money it got.
That’s the group made up of businesses and academics from the plant proteins industry which recently was awarded millions from the federal government.
“We have the money in place, we have the people in place, we have the CEO in place, we have the headquarters here, we have everything here to move forward. We just need the political will to make sure that happens as well, that we as a city create the environment for the growth, and the province does its part, and the federal government does its part as well,” said Fougere.
He said the work will help diversify the economy, moving to exporting value-added products instead of the raw product.
Fougere called it a “gamechanger,” saying it’s expected to create thousands of jobs and billions in investments.
Fougere said 2018 brought challenges, but the city is working on them.
He mentioned wait times to get buildings permits, which got some acknowledgment from the crowd.
Fougere explained the goal is to have residential building permits done in 10 business days, and commercial permits finished in 20.
“Part of the issue is that when the applications come in, they’re not complete. This is not a criticism of anyone, it’s that they need more information, we need more information, to go forward. Now we’re saying give us all the information up front, and we will tell you we’ll get it done in 20 business days.”
Among other things the city is doing to meet that target, a new online portal and computer system is expected next year. It will allow people to permit forms and information online, then watch to see its progress. It will also allow different departments to see the information at the same time and make their notes without having to ship paper back and forth.
Parking is also an issue in Regina, according to Fougere.
He talked about the need for vehicle turnover downtown, but also that enforcement officers need to be more judicious in their writing of tickets.
He also mentioned the pay-by-phone initiative, which got a big round of applause from the crowd.
Fougere is also looking ahead to 2019. He said the thing he’s most excited about is getting started on the work on Dewdney Avenue, which is part of the railyard renewal project.
The Grey Cup is also on the mayor’s mind – he’s expected to hear about Regina’s bid to host the 2020 event soon.