From the CP Women’s Open to the Memorial Cup, the city of Regina saw international events and growth in 2018. Now, the Queen City is looking forward to 2019.

Mayor Michael Fougere reflected on the past year with Taylor Rattray.

CTV Regina: 2018 was quite a rather big year for our city. What were some of the highlights for you?

Fougere: I think it was the year of events. We had the Memorial Cup here, we had the LPGA that was here, we had curling that was here. We had a wonderful time of showcasing our city, not just to Canada but around the world. With the LPGA tournament here, we had between 400 and 500 million people worldwide watching that event. So, that was a wonderful opportunity to show how we put on events and how well we do and that we have wonderful volunteers that make it all happen.

CTV: Recently council did approve the 2019 budget and it was another increase after 10 years of increases. What kind of message do you have for people that are maybe frustrated with increases, but know we also need these services as well?

Fougere: This is a balance between our ability to pay and what people’s expectations are, because people expect a lot more than we can ever afford to pay. So, it’s about making some difficult choices and our revenue source, which is our property taxes, does not grow with the economy. It’s flat. If it was a sales tax or extra income tax, we would not be seeing a mill rate increase. We’d be seeing something different here. So, we’re trying to balance off the priorities of council, which are infrastructure renewal, roads and streets and pipes underground. That’s expensive. Matching federal and provincial infrastructure requires we have to as well, as well as a safe community. So, police and fire are very important and we have to watch taxes. We are very much attuned to that and this council brought that tax down a few points.

CTV: Speaking of infrastructure, we are now going to be rebuilding Maple Leaf Pool. There was quite a lot of discussion on that at a recent meeting. Where are we finding the money for that?

Fougere: That will be discussed. Either it will be reallocation of part of the funds for the Wascana Pool, the destination one we want to have there, or it may be debt, it may be something in the future. But, administration will come back early next year with a plan of how to finance that.

CTV: So, we’re not yet sure if that destination aquatic centre is going to happen?

Fougere: That will happen, but if it happens in the shape that it was originally thought about, that may be different because we’re going to be rebuilding the pool.

CTV: Council also recently implemented a two-year tax exemption for daycares. What was the reasoning behind that?

Fougere: It’s a partial exemption. It’s from commercial back to residential, because a small group had been changed over to a higher tax level. It’s only for a couple of years until we do our final review of exemptions for daycares in total. It’s a bridge between the policy being put in place. So, I think some of the difficulties were the almost doubling of taxes right away. Council felt that, we’re going to try to get a framework around this, a policy framework. In the meantime, let’s give them some help. So, very limited, about $40,00.

CTV: Another big discussion this year was the parking around the General Hospital, which has been an issue for many years. Council recently decided not to put parking meters there. Why was that?

Fougere: I think we want to take the longer view of let’s find a solution for parking for people who work at the hospital and those who are visiting. I think some people felt the parking meters were an irritant and it was meant to be to help circulate so that there’s more people that can use it. The bigger issue here is that the employer ought to be finding a way to take care of their employees, give them a safe place to park off the street, as well as those who are visiting too. A parkade would be a great example, or the bus shuttle that they have, make it more comprehensive. We don’t want to tell them how to do that, but they’re having a huge negative impact on the community that lives around the hospital. And that’s not fair to them either.

CTV: Any last remarks you’d like to give to the city of Regina?

Fougere: We’ve had a wonderful year, this past year in 2018, lots of good things happening, growth in our community; 2019 will be the same. This time of year is really meant to be with your family, your friends, and reflect upon what’s so good about Regina and what will be in the future. So, on behalf of my colleagues on city council, I want to wish all of Regina residents all the best in 2019 and have a wonderful and safe holiday season.