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Regina city council approves new arena, all catalyst project recommendations


The work of Regina’s Catalyst Committee has come to a close after city council officially passed all of the group’s recommendations for four priority projects aimed at revitalizing downtown.

“This is an important vote. This will shape our city. It’s easy to find a thousand reasons not to do something, but sometimes you just have to be courageous,” said Catalyst Committee co-chair and coun. Bob Hawkins before the vote.

The Catalyst Committee recommended four priority projects. The first priority project is a non-vehicular trail system that connects the city’s districts to the downtown core.

Its second priority is a new aquatic centre located at the current site of the Lawson Aquatic Centre. A new central library located downtown is the third priority and a new multi-purpose event centre is ranked fourth.

Council previously voted in favour of a new aquatic centre. However, they pressed pause on the other catalyst recommendations after deciding more public consultation was needed for the proposed downtown arena project.

Following more than 30 delegations at its meeting the day prior, council voted on each of the other three projects individually on Thursday. The trail system passed unanimously, the library was supported in a 10-1 vote and the downtown arena passed by a vote of 8-3.

“If you’re trying to revitalize downtown, and we get asked all the time how are you going to do it, it [an arena] is not a silver bullet but it’s one of the way in which you revitalize and create something new,” said Regina Mayor Sandra Masters.

The amount of support and opposition residents have for a downtown arena depends on which survey City of Regina officials are looking at.

The city conducted two different polls – a scientific poll and an online survey – to better understand the desire for a new multi-purpose event centre and where residents want to see it built. The results vary based on which poll is being considered.

“Both polls have validity,” city manager Niki Anderson said.

“If your question is ‘I want to know what the average resident in Regina equally represented in each ward thinks,’ you’re going to pay more attention to the results of the scientific poll.”

The scientific poll randomly selected 100 residents from each ward for a total of 1,000 participants. They were polled over the phone.

In the scientific poll, about two-thirds of participants believe a new multi-purpose event centre is needed. Of those two-thirds, participants' support is split between the downtown location and a location outside of the city’s core.

The proposed downtown arena is ranked fourth on the list of projects recommended by the Catalyst Committee. Thirty per cent of participants in the scientific poll want it removed from the priority list. The other 70 per cent either agreed with the ranking or wanted it ranked as a higher priority.

“Thirty per cent is not insignificant, but it’s not the majority either,” Masters said.

“We have a Brandt Centre. It needs love or replacement and I think the scientific survey shows the majority of people in the City of Regina believe that to be also the case.”

A second survey was offered online to all Regina residents. More than 8,000 people participated.

In that survey, 53.1 per cent of participants said the new arena is not needed, while 43. 8 per cent thought it was necessary.

Fifty-one per cent of online respondents believe the event centre should be removed from the catalyst committee’s priority list. The other half is split evenly between those who think the ranking is appropriate and those who see the arena as a higher priority.

“There is quite a discrepancy between the two [polls], so it is giving you different information online compared to the scientific one,” president of Forum Research Lorne Bozinoff said. Bozinoff helped conduct the surveys.

“I would say [the discrepancy] is typical. What it [the online survey] does show is that there was a group of people who feel strongly about this issue, but that group is not representative of the rest of the community.”

The city conducted the surveys from March 9 to 19. The scientific survey has a margin of error of +/- 3.09 per cent 19 times out of 20. A margin of error cannot be determined for the online survey.

In its discussions, council decided that the location of the multi-purpose event centre could also be in the “greater downtown” area, if the opportunity presents itself.

“I think some councillors wanted some flexibility. Perhaps that’s across the rail tracks into the Warehouse District between Albert and Broad Street and not limiting those options for the very same reason,” Masters said.

Even though the recommendations passed, Masters said these projects will not be ready for construction tomorrow.

The city will continue to chip away at design concepts, funding opportunities and other planning for each individual project. When the time comes, council will still have to vote on the project budgets, locations and designs.

“It’s a concept plan. It’s about readiness so that when opportunities arise we’re ready for them,” Anderson said. Top Stories

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