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Year of tension at Regina City Hall

Regina municipal politics in 2022 saw the incumbent city manager fired and his eventual replacement hauled into court.

REGINA - It you think things are contentious at your municipal council, you might want to take a look at what’s happened in Regina.

And if you were living in Regina, you already know it was a tension-filled year at City Hall in 2022. The year saw council dismiss the incumbent City Manager and bring in a new one, only for the replacement to be hauled into court by two councillors over the budget.

The year was also dominated by lengthy and contentious discussions over what to do about addressing the homelessness issue — with one councillor having to face ethics complaints over what she said at one of those discussions.

City manager fired

A major change at City Hall administration took place in February when council voted 9-1 to terminate Regina city manager Chris Holden. Holden had been city manager from 2016.

City Clerk Jim Nicol took over as interim city manager as the recruitment of a replacement took place

Homeless debate

Among the issues that dominated City Hall in 2022 was how to address homelessness. On June 15 council voted unanimously in favor of a motion for full operational funding to solve homelessness throughout the city using a Housing First model.

That motion included a provision that would later prove a point of contention: that the funding be clearly demarcated as a line item of its own in the city’s proposed budget.

Ethics complaints against Terina Shaw

Controversy surrounded Ward 7 Councillor Terina Shaw in 2022 as she was the subjects of a number of ethics complaints filed. One of them concerned questions she posed during the June 15 meeting about whether some Indigenous people prefer to be homeless.

The city’s Integrity Commissioner ultimately did not proceed against her on that complaint, but did recommend sanctions in connection to online comments made to Councillor Shanon Zachidniak during a Jan. 19 virtual meeting. Ultimately, council opted not to impose any sanction after Shaw told council she suffered from mental illness and attention deficit disorder. 

Councillor Shaw also made news later that year by announcing she had changed her name back to her maiden name Terina Nelson.

Catalyst committee

The future of city facilities in Regina became a major talking point in 2022, with proposals before council regarding major transformative projects including a new arena, new baseball stadium and soccer field, a new Central Library, and new Aquatic Centre.

To guide the development of those new facilities a Catalyst Committee was appointed, co-chaired by Councillor Bob Hawkins and Tim Reid of REAL District. Public meetings on the various proposals were held in October and results of a public survey were released in December, indicating interest was highest in the aquatic centre and the library. A report from the committee is due back to council in 2022.

Budget court fight and new City Manager 

In the fall it was announced that Niki Anderson was selected as the successful candidate to be the new City Manager. She started her new role Nov. 1.

Not long after, Anderson became embroiled in a court action against her from two councillors: Andrew Stevens and Dan LeBlanc. Stevens was one of two co-applicants while LeBlanc acted as lawyer filing a motion in King’s Bench court, which would have forced the city to include homeless funding in the budget.

The controversy erupted after administration had presented a multiyear budget proposing a 4.67 mill rate increase for 2023 — but without the line item for homeless funding included.

The court filing from the two councillors drew the ire of Mayor Sandra Masters, who called it “disgusting.” Council would later move and pass a motion of confidence in Anderson.

King’s Bench court heard ultimately arguments from counsel in December, just before budget deliberations started. In the end, the court threw out the application.

Homeless advocates filled council chambers during a contentious budget deliberation in December, with speaker after speaker calling for the line item to be included. It was to no avail. 

Ultimately, council voted to drop the mill rate increase a further point to 3.67. After the vote took place, the homeless advocates in the gallery cried “shame!”