Regina City Council votes unanimously to withdraw controversial energy sponsorship amendment
NEWS -- A total of 21 delegations addressed Regina City Council on Wednesday afternoon regarding an amendment that was put forward at last week’s Executive Committee, proposing some energy companies be banned from sponsorship and naming rights of city buildings and events.
The amendment was put forward by Ward 6 Councillor Daniel LeBlanc. He withdrew the amendment at the City Council meeting. A unanimous vote from council saw the amendment deleted. This follows a 7-4 vote at Executive Committee in favour of it last week.
Before it was withdrawn, the 21 delegations gave their input. The majority of the delegations were against the amendment.
John Hopkins, CEO of the Regina & District Chamber of Commerce, said he does not think the city should be trying to push the traditional energy sector out of the way while many major players in the industry are making moves to lower their carbon footprint.
“From our perspective, we would like to encourage you to focus on growing our community and taking advantage of some of the competitive advantages that we have,” Hopkins said.
Councillor Jason Mancinelli asked Hopkins if he believes if some damage has been done to the reputation of city council because of this situation. Hopkins said yes, but he believes everyone can work together to move forward from this situation.
“I think there’s some fairly common objectives in terms of growing the economy for people and making lives better here in our community, as well as looking at some renewable opportunities that are out there,” Hopkins said.
Dean Popil, CEO of energy-based investment firm Lex Capital Management Inc., said he understands that many people will blindly support this motion and said he knows many have good intentions. He said he decided to speak to council to educate those who are ignorant to the facts.
“Hatred for our oil industry has become a popular thing without any understanding or application of how hard the industry is working to reduce its carbon footprint,” Popil said. “Saskatchewan conventional oil production is some of the most economic, and in some areas of the province, represents some of the lowest emission barrels of oil in North America.”
Meanwhile, some delegations were in favour of the amendment, saying it is a step forward to combating climate change.
Krystal Lewis, the executive director of the Regina Public Interest Research Group, said she hopes to hear more conversations from city council about these environmental issues.
“I’m glad that you are discussing this amendment and I hope that you feel that you are free to be able to do so,” Lewis said. “All of this conversation about moving to become more sustainable isn’t going away. People want to talk about it and we need to take it a lot more seriously.”
She said despite the backlash, the city should move forward with the conversations.
Following the meeting, Councillor LeBlanc declined to comment to media. During the council meeting he said although he did see some support from the community for his amendment, he does not believe right now is the time to move forward with it.
Meanwhile Mayor Sandra Masters, who initially voted against the amendment at Executive Committee, said the city welcomes conversation about sustainability but does not support this move.
“It just struck the wrong cord with me and I think that’s probably where the citizens and I, that I’ve heard from, have aligned,” Masters said. “No one is speaking out about sustainability at all, it’s more a matter of the methods with which we get there.”
Masters said a major part of sponsorship is relationship-building.
“If you’re trying to build a relationship, to cast judgment or create something that’s perhaps divisive, it’s very difficult to build a relationship under those circumstances,” she said.
City Council unanimously passed designations for two new Municipal Heritage Properties.
The Municipal Justice Building, located at 1770 Halifax Street, is now recognized as a Municipal Heritage Property. So is the location at 2125 11th Ave., known as Darke Block.
The city also approved a cash grant to complete some work at the Knox-Metropolitan United Church, located at 2340 Victoria Ave. This location is already recognized as a Municipal Heritage Property.
Cameron Fraser, a representative from the church, said at the meeting the money would go towards window repairs.
A heritage grant for the Albert Library, located at 1401 Robinson St., was also approved.