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What will the verdict be on a multi-purpose event centre in Regina?

Grant Cameron
What will the verdict be on a multi-purpose event centre in Regina?

The City of Regina retained a polling firm to determine the level of support from local residents for building an indoor multi-purpose event centre and arena and locating it in the downtown core.

Forum Research is now conducting market research and an online survey to get feedback on the ambitious proposal. Randomly selected Regina residents will also be canvassed to participate in a scientific poll.

Results will be reported to city council today (March 22) and supplement previously collected public engagement results. The information will help councillors as they mull over the proposal for the downtown venue and a report by a Catalyst Committee that was created in 2022 to explore how to best align five proposed recreation and cultural-based facility projects to maximize economic and community benefits.

The five proposed projects are:

  • An indoor aquatic centre at the current site of the Lawson Aquatic Centre. Should the environmental conditions or reclamation of lands at the Lawson site be compromised, the committee is recommending a secondary site consideration.
  • A new central library branch within the downtown core and at its existing location. However, the committee is suggesting other locations should be explored.
  • A multi-purpose outdoor baseball event centre.
  • A synthetic outdoor soccer field project.
  • The event centre and arena.

The projects have the potential to attract people and businesses to Regina’s city centre, stimulating economic development and tourism.

The 16-member Catalyst Committee, which was comprised of a diverse group of community leaders, reviewed the project proposals and community feedback and presented 21 recommendations to city council.

The committee proposed a list of five possible site locations for the event centre – all in downtown Regina – with the preferred location being somewhere on 12th Avenue. However, it wants all locations to be closely evaluated.

The event centre would have a 10,000-seat arena and replace the 46-year-old Brandt Centre which has 6,500 seats.

According to the Catalyst Committee, “the Brandt Centre has served its purpose well, leaving behind a rich and storied history. However, as the half-century age mark approaches, it is becoming more and more apparent that a demolition and rebuild of the events centre is important for the reputation and continued growth of the city.”

Estimated cost of the new event centre and arena is $156 million. The Catalyst Committee figures it would attract slightly more than one million visitors annually and generate revenue of $10.5 million each year.

Mayor Sandra Masters has expressed support for the arena build in the downtown.

“I think our downtown needs some investment and if we’re not getting any private investment — and haven’t for a number of years in some respects in terms of construction — (and) if the city is going to build something, perhaps then that’s when you focus it on downtown,” she recently told CBC News.

In a letter to the mayor and city council accompanying the Catalyst Committee final report, co-chairs Bob Hawkins and Tim Reid wrote they appreciated the opportunity to participate in such an important process and noted the report is comprehensive and the assembly of materials extensive.

“As a Catalyst Committee we are optimistic that this report will act as a valuable assembly and analysis of historic and current materials while concurrently offering you, as the final decision-makers, a clear process to advance these important projects within a greater City of Regina plan,” Hawkins and Reid wrote.

“The challenges on the horizon are not insignificant but as a committee we are enthusiastic about the future of our city.”

Although the projects have support, it doesn’t look like they will be built quickly. Importantly, after reviewing the city’s finances, the committee recommended the City of Regina does not have the financial means to independently fund the proposed projects before they are advanced so each must have alternative capital funding sources in place and need to be considered over a period of several decades.

“It is the position of the Catalyst Committee that the ability of the City of Regina to act as the sole financing agent for any of the proposed Catalyst Projects is simply not sustainable,” their report states. “As such, project advancement will depend upon the ability to secure funding from alternative sources, private entities, or other public levels of government.”

To achieve a long-term competitive and financially sustainable City of Regina, the report notes it will be imperative the discussion related to the projects “are not considered over a period of years but rather a timeline of decades.”

The committee found the public had concerns for the projects being funded solely by the city, and indicated more willingness to support projects if other levels of government support or private investment becomes available.


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