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Safety zone, Housing Accelerator Fund on lengthy council agenda

Regina City Hall Update - Long council meeting expected Wednesday, with several delegations scheduled to appear.
Expect a long day on April 10 at Henry Baker Hall as Reginacouncil expects to tackle a host of important items on the afternoon’s agenda.

REGINA - City council meets in Regina Wednesday afternoon and a long day is expected on a number of hotly-discussed topics.

One of those is in connection to the Housing Accelerator Fund, after the city was recently awarded $35 million in federal funding through that program. A number of bylaw changes were already previously approved in Phase One. What is before council Wednesday are recommendations in connection to Phase Two bylaw amendments related to that funding, which is aimed at boosting new housing development in the city.

The recommendations coming before council on Wednesday call for approval of proposed Primary Intensification Areas within 200 metres of main transit routes, and recommends repeal of the Wascana Height Overlay Zone; also coming to council is a recommendation to approve proposed amendments to the Official Community Plan bylaw, the Regina Transit Master Plan, and the Regina Zoning Bylaw. The resolution before council also calls on the City Solicitor to prepare the necessary bylaw amendments to come back to a future meeting of council.

Already, this issue is seeing both feedback and pushback from various organizations, with 12 delegations scheduled to appear. Several delegations are expressing concerns of impacts on the “quality and livability” of residential areas — direct language used in some of the written submissions posted on the city’s website in advance of the council meeting.

Among those appearing are representatives from the Al Ritchie Community Foundation who are expressing opposition to the zoning bylaw changes. According to the written submissions from representatives of the organization, the concern is it negates the existing practise of consulting local associations on these matters prior to adoption.

Also a major issue on the council agenda is the Vision Zero Road Safety framework, which would create a Community Safety Zone in the Cathedral neighbourhood and institute a reduced speed limit of 30 km/ hour.

A town hall event was held April 3 in Cathedral neighbourhood to provide more information to the public about the Safety Zone. City council is scheduled to discuss the issue and make a decision Wednesday, with at least two delegations scheduled to speak before council on the issue. 

A number of other issues are also slated to be decided at council Wednesday, including what is the highly-discussed issue of recreation facility accessibility improvements in the city.

Surprise deficit for City operations

In other City Hall news, the Audit and Financial Committee met on Tuesday evening and there was a rude surprise in store for that committee about the state of finances in the city. 

The agenda for the meeting published Friday in advance of the meeting had projected a $1.7 million surplus in the city’s general operating fund. But when Deputy City Manager Barry Lacey presented his report Tuesday, he reported that the general operating fund now had a year end deficit of $2.7 million.

Lacey noted the change was due to an error discovered after the report was released Friday, related to the allowance for doubtful accounts not being set up properly. That had an impact of $4.4 million on the operating results.  

The other news coming out of the meeting is a recommendation from administration that council provide REAL an amount of $232,259 to cover costs that organization incurred supporting the work the Catalyst Committee.

“As the work of the committee was for the betterment of the entire city, not the Regina Exhibition Association Limited, administration is recommending paying REAL for these expenditures funded from the general fund reserve, and this would result in the operating fund deficit increasing by an additional $230,000 and the general fund reserve decreasing by the same amount,” said Lacey.

Following a lengthy discussion, the Audit and Finance Committee voted in favor of drawing down the surpluses in other City reserves to cover both the $2.7 million operating deficit and the $232,259 payment to REAL. That recommendation will now come back to the main council meeting in two weeks, on April 24, for approval.