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Council approves permanent closure of Osler St. in front of RPS headquarters, Cathedral liquor store
REGINA -- Following an afternoon of debate and discussion, Regina city council has given necessary approval to a number of development projects throughout the city.
The street that currently runs past RPS Headquarters is set to be closed permanently as planning towards an expanded police station ramps up.
The proposal, now approved by council, also includes the rezoning of the former Saskatchewan Transport Company bus depot on Saskatchewan Drive RPS purchased in 2017.
A report from administration says the closure and rezoning will have “minimal impact on traffic flow or pedestrian circulation” in the area.
The closure would give RPS the space needed to carry out the expansion of its headquarters, which Mayor Michael Fougere described as more of a campus for the city’s police operations.
“It’s going to be a long construction, two or three year project,” Fougere said. “It’s a complex project but it will be the ability to house the police service for many, many years into the future so it’s welcome news and it was one of our biggest priorities for infrastructure renewal.”
The Heritage Community Association told council it is comfortable with the plan and says it presents exciting opportunities for the neighbourhood, but also made some recommendations for community consultation when it comes time to approve a design for the vastly expanded headquarters.
It calls for an open house early in the planning and design process “when there is still room for changes to made in response to community feedback.”
“We believe that our community and RPS have many mutual interests for our neighbourhood, and that a thorough consultation process will help to best meet our mutual interests and also illuminate and prevent any unintended harmful impacts,” the group’s submission reads.
Several councillors agreed the public needs to be fully consulted, but others cautioned the public should only be consulted on the exterior design and other aspects that affect the public at large but emphasized the process cannot jeopardize any police operations or security for inside as a result.
Administration noted this level of public consultation is not required for the development but will be done thanks to the interest of council.
“It won’t be just here’s what we’re going to do, it’s going to be what do you think of this design, the exterior of the building,” Fougere explained. “It will not be interior because those are specialized areas such as the jail area is one example.”
Procurement for the design of the expansion will begin this summer according to administration.
The HCA also added it recognizes the pandemic has caused an interruption to community engagement but says it’s still necessary even if it means a delay in the project.
The association also wants to see the city prioritize the preservation and revitalization of the long-vacant Municipal Justice Building and the revitalization of Halifax Street and 11 Avenue as part of the project, something the mayor said will be brought into consideration.
SOBEYS LIQUOR LOCATION AT 13 AVE. AND RETALLACK ST. APPROVED
Council also voted 10-1 in favour of a proposal to build a Sobeys Liquor store at a mostly-vacant property at 13 Ave. and Retallack St. in the Cathedral neighbourhood.
The project was the subject of some criticism from area residents on how it could impact the surrounding community.
The lone vote against was Councillor Andrew Stevens, who represents Cathedral.
The mayor says this project will help fill a piece of land that has sat vacant for many years.
“It’s a service that will attract people to 13 Ave. and provide more business for other businesses downtown,” Fougere said.
SHOPPING COMPLEX AT FORMER ORR CENTRE A GO
A shopping centre off Lewvan Drive and Fourth Ave. is expected to start construction this summer now that it has council approval, barring any setbacks from COVID-19 or otherwise.
The developer told council an open house held in March helped alleviate many concerns raised by residents.
The centre is being constructed at the former site of the Orr Centre after it was demolished over the winter.
OTHER AGENDA ITEMS, DISCUSSION
Council heard a response from the Provincial Capital Commission related to a previous call for transparency from council relating to the provincial auditor’s recommendations for public consultation as a result of the controversy over the CNIB/Brandt development in Wascana Park.
Councillors voted to reject an application for a $25,000 community investment grant to help with expenses beyond those covered by Canadian Heritage to deliver a virtual Canada Day celebration in Regina. Council decided not to fund the event as the organizers were not able to say how the money could be used, especially since it’s a virtual event.
Council also approved an upscale doggy daycare to be built in Regina’s east end.
The next meeting of council is scheduled for June 24.