Fossil fuel sponsorship, advertising ban withdrawn unanimously at Regina city council

·4 min read

A motion to prohibit fossil fuel producers and sellers from sponsoring city events or advertising on city property has been withdrawn unanimously at Regina's city council.

At the executive committee meeting a week ago, councillors voted 7-4 in favour of a motion that would prevent fossil fuel companies from sponsoring city events, advertising or buying naming rights for city buildings.

City administration said in a report that these sponsorships are expected to produce between $100,000 to $250,000 in net revenue annually for the city.

Coun. Dan LeBlanc says he proposed the motion because the city has a policy to be energy sustainable by 2050, and it's up to the current council to help reach that goal.

"I heard from a lot of people in the last week, and most of those I heard from support sustainability and understand that we need to get moving on it," LeBlanc said. "Despite support, I don't think this is one to push on. We don't have enough support at this point. I think taking a step back, let us cast a wider net for sustainability."

Ward 4 Coun. Lori Bresciani, who had voted against the ban, says council reversing the decision was admirable and she thanked the councillors who did.

Submitted by Lori Bresciani
Submitted by Lori Bresciani

"It's listening to your residents," Bresciani said. "And I will speak for all of the councillors that are here that have done that and vocally said that, 'You know what? We made a mistake. We heard you loud and clear,' and that is the job of a councillor."

A total of 20 delegations, including the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers and Canadian Labour Congress.

Krystal Lewis, one of two delegations who spoke in favour of the amendment, says climate change is an important issue with voters.

"Young people want movement on this and they are less afraid than us to talk about it," said Lewis, a member of the Regina Public Interest Research Group that advocates for climate change action. "I hope that we can be a lot more courageous in our thinking and not be afraid despite some backlash or negative feedback, we still need to move forward with these conversations.

"We owe it not just to ourselves, but all of these young folks and leaders of tomorrow who will be dealing with the consequences of our decisions today."

Twenty of the 21 delegations spoke against the amendment, including John Hopkins, CEO of the Regina and District Chamber of Commerce. Hopkins requested the council defeat the amendment.

Heidi Atter/CBC
Heidi Atter/CBC

"The Saskatchewan energy sector is vital to our province. It is one of our big economic factors employing thousands of unionized workers as well as businesses," Hopkins said. "These employees are family, friends and neighbours."

Hopkins says energy companies are using unique and innovative ways to reduce emissions and their carbon footprints.

The fossil fuel producer and seller change wasn't the only amendment to the policy.

Executive committee had also approved prohibiting political candidates or parties from sponsoring city events. On Wednesday, council voted unanimously to allow political parties or candidates to advertise or sponsor events as long as they indicated who it was paid by.

Report on process for approving downtown parking lots postponed

'City council was set to discuss a report showing that 46.7 per cent of Regina's private land downtown is currently either surface parking or structured parkades. However it was pushed to the next meeting due to time constraints.

If approved, the report would create a new process for approving new downtown lots and decommissioning lots when the allotted time ran out.

The report was commissioned by the previous city council in August. It had asked city administration to look into amending the official Design Regina community plan to accommodate temporary surface parking lots.

City of Regina
City of Regina

City administration looked into allowing lots for three to five years, researched how other cities consider downtown surface lots and consulted with the Regina and Downtown Business Improvement District, downtown property owners and developers. Administration also looked into how to decommission a temporary parking lot.

Regina city councils have previously approved three temporary parking lots. The report shows none of them went on to be developed as expected.

One such site is at 1755 Hamilton Street. It was approved as a three-year temporary parking lot in 2012, but was supposed to be developed afterward. It remains a vacant lot.

A second is at 1840 Lorne Street. In 2015, it was approved for a three-year term. In 2019, another three-year term was approved. It is still a parking lot.

Aldo Columpsi/CBC
Aldo Columpsi/CBC

"There is a risk that allowing surface parking lots, even on a temporary basis, would cause several demolitions downtown if left uncontrolled," city administration said in the report.

Administration is recommending limiting future temporary surface parking lots and creating an underutilized land improvement strategy to redevelop existing sites.