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Regina formally approves catalyst projects committee

Regina Council Update - Regina officially authorizes committee to study major recreation facility projects for the city.
Arena project 4
A proposed new 10,000-seat arena for Regina will be among the projects that Regina’s new Catalyst Committee will be considering. Council gave the official stamp of approval to the committee July 13.

REGINA — As expected, Regina city council has voted unanimously in favour of the recommendation to conduct a feasibility study on a new multi-purpose mixed-use baseball stadium, and assemble a “Catalyst Committee” to prepare a report and findings on upcoming recreation projects for the baseball stadium, a new arena and a new aquatic centre.

The council approval, which came at the start of Wednesday's meeting at City Hall, was in line with what was decided at Executive Committee the previous week. 

The city has approved funding up to $15,000 payable to REAL for the city’s share of the feasibility study for the baseball facility. As well, Councillor Bob Hawkins and REAL President and CEO Tim Reid have been authorized to assemble and co-chair the Catalyst Committee.

The Catalyst Committee is so named as it will be dealing with potential “catalyst” projects that are described as transformational major projects that will improve the quality of life for residents and generate economic activity to the city. 

Regina is looking at a potential 10,000 seat downtown arena that would replace the Brandt Centre, with the Brandt Centre possibly being repurposed for other uses. The city is also looking at a synthetic turf baseball stadium whose primary tenant would be the Regina Red Sox, and a new and larger aquatic centre facility that could potentially replace the Lawson Aquatic Centre.

The desire was expressed at Executive Committee that the proposed projects move forward together, and the idea is for the catalyst committee to guide that process. 

The next steps will be to find members to join the committee, and to come up with terms of reference for the committee. The indication from City Manager Jim Nicol is for a document outlining the terms of reference to be brought to the Aug. 10 Executive Committee meeting. As well, they plan to bring a proposed list of nominees for that committee.

Nicol told council the intention is for membership of the committee to be from a broad spectrum across the city including stakeholder groups, cultural groups and social agencies, so that all views are captured by the committee. The plan is for the committee to report back to council with recommendations by the fourth quarter of 2022.

Cannabis store approved

In other news from the meeting, council approved a discretionary use application for a retail cannabis store at 2104 Grant Road in Whitmore Park. But it was hardly a smooth process, as the applicants, The Joint Cannabis, were applying again after their previous approval was taken away.

The Joint Cannabis had previously obtained approvals from city administration for the development and building permit to locate in that strip mall location in Whitmore Park. 

But six months later the permit was withdrawn by the city. It was discovered after the fact that a private Montessori school was in the strip mall. Complicating matters was that the school had also been closed for a time due to COVID-19.

The cannabis store would have been within the 60-metre limit of the school, meaning it could not proceed without council approval as a discretionary use. The end result was that the applicant had to go back and make a discretionary use application for the cannabis store to proceed.

The new application received swift negative feedback from the public, with 31 responses opposing and only three in favour. Opposition was expressed at the council meeting by a Whitmore Park resident who noted the proximity of the cannabis store to other nearby schools, a church and to the residential area.

Bartosz Stras of The Joint Head Shop, Inc., assured council their intention would be to run a secure and compliant store and they have never been sanctioned for breaching cannabis-related rules.

In the end it was not unanimous, but council did go ahead and approved the cannabis store application. One factor cited was that the applicant had gone ahead with renovations to prepare for a store at the location, all after receiving approval the first time.

“The business has put $250,000 into a building, into a renovation of a business in the city,” noted Councillor Lori Bresciani, who made clear she didn't want to see this sort of situation repeated. “This was not their fault, this was ours ... this is quite embarrassing to our city.”

City plaza named for former Mayor Pat Fiacco

In a related story from the day, a former mayor of Regina was honoured with the renaming of downtown's City Square Plaza.

City Square Plaza has been renamed Pat Fiacco Plaza, in recognition of the mayor who served Regina from 2000 to 2012. Fiacco's time as mayor is probably best known for the "I Love Regina" catchphrase that was popularized while he was in office.

Fiacco was on hand for the renaming ceremonies in Regina Wednesday morning, along with members of his family.