Regina’s executive council is set to examine a trio of proposals that if they are eventually approved would shape the future of the city’s downtown core.
Wednesday’s meeting will feature a feasibility study for an indoor aquatics facility that would replace the aging Lawson Aquatic Centre, an update on the future and possible replacement of the Brandt Centre and a request to fund a feasibility study for a multi-purpose outdoor facility geared toward high-performance baseball.
The topics are not new to council or municipal political watchers but they are the first time the public is getting a more fulsome understanding of what these projects could look like.
The reports in front of committee will be accepted and filed with future steps being recommended by city administration.
Here is what you need to know.
The feasibility study that will be in front of council on Wednesday looked at options meant to address the city’s 2019 Recreation Master Plan and it’s top priority of improving the city’s indoor aquatic facilities.
They included a renovation and expansion of the existing Lawson Aquatic Centre and the construction of a new facility.
The Lawson Aquatic Centre was built in 1975. Despite being well maintained and undergoing numerous renovations and remedial projects, the building will require a number of upgrades to extend its useful life.
Bringing it up to the standards of a modern facility would “require a significant intervention,” the report notes.
In order to extend the life of the Lawson for another 10 to 15 years the city would need to spend around $21 million.
The report notes that the renovation and new facility options were generally similar in cost and as a result the report recommends the construction of a new facility as the path forward.
While only in its initial stages the total project costs are estimated to be $173 million with the construction set to begin in 2024.
The cost is subject to change and the report makes it clear that the construction of a new indoor aquatic facility will require the city to find multiple sources of funding.
One of those options includes an attempt to use $128 million earmarked for the City of Regina in the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program (ICIP).
While that funding was originally meant for transit infrastructure the city has now sought permission from the federal and provincial governments to use the cash to help fund the new aquatic centre.
Replacing the Brandt Centre
Regina Exhibition Association Limited (REAL) is set to present an update on the potential replacement of the Brandt Centre, a multi-use arena which serves as the home of the Regina Pats, the Canadian Western Agribition and other events.
Just like the Lawson, the Brandt Centre was built in the mid-to-late 1970s and is now aging.
The report in front of executive committee says they have envisioned a mid-sized multi-purpose event centre as a replacement that would feature a maximum 10,000 seats configuration
Five potential sites were assessed by the Arena Planning Strategy Committee (APSC), of which REAL is a member.
Ultimately three potential sites were short-listed. However, details on those three sites are only contained in a confidential final report that is not available to the public.
All three of the short-listed sites are located downtown and are numbered as sites 01, 02 and 05 in the map below.
REAL is recommending location 05 as it has the “greatest potential” for the creation of an entertainment district.
The organization believes the new facility should be developed in co-ordination with the proposed modernization of the Central Library branch, the aquatic centre and the construction of new soccer and baseball stadiums.
The cost of constructing the new event centre is projected to be between $100 million and $120 million with the additional cost of purchasing the potential sites pegged at between $32.7 million and $33.1 million.
That’s means the initial estimates of the project are between $132.7 million and $153.1 million.
The construction of a new facility would not mean the end of the current Brandt Centre.
REAL recommends that it be redeveloped at the same time as the new facility is constructed. They present two options, repurposing the existing space as a sport and recreation centre — projected to cost between $5.2 million and $15.6 million — or for agricultural use — projected at between $2.7 million and $6.5 million.
The final subject that could help reshape downtown Regina is the potential for a new multi-purpose, synthetic turf outdoor facility that would compliment the needs of high-performance baseball.
Details aren’t available but the ask in front of council on Wednesday is for $15,000 in order to help fund a feasibility study into the project.
The City of Regina has 167 ball diamonds around the city, but part of the city’s Recreation Master Plan recommends the city look at quality over quantity.
One of the ways of addressing the quality would be the construction of a high-performance baseball diamond in partnership with other organizations if the option arises.
The feasibility report would look at where to put the proposed stadium.
The proposed stadium is projected to have a budget between $15 and $23 million million and feature 2,500 and 4,000 seats.
If passed on Wednesday, all motions will once again need to approved at an upcoming meeting of Regina City Council.