Cleanup resumes at site of former CNIB building in Regina

·2 min read
Demolition resumes at former Wascana Park CNIB building. (CBC News - image credit)
Demolition resumes at former Wascana Park CNIB building. (CBC News - image credit)

A demolition crew arrived this week to clean up the site that would have housed Brandt Properties Ltd.'s new Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB) building in Regina's Wascana Park.

The vacant lot near the intersection of Broad Street and Broadway Avenue in Wascana Park, has been tangled in controversy since 2014 and faced harsh public backlash.

Brandt proposed building a 77,000 square-foot building that would include new space for CNIB.

The project was put on hold in March 2019 after controversy erupted because Brandt/CNIB were also planning to welcome commercial tenants that appeared to violate Wascana Park rules: tenants like restaurants, retail outlets and general office use.

The park's master plan says all developments must conform with five key pillars of the park: education, recreation, culture, environment and the seat of government.

The site has been untouched for three years until this week, when heavy excavation equipment moved in and began pulling large pieces of concrete and other construction materials out of the site.

Wascana Park is managed by the Provincial Capital Commission (PCC), which told CBC that Brandt is moving forward with the demolition of its former building.

"It's our understanding the developer for the Canadian National Institute for the Blind project has secured a valid demolition permit from the municipality to complete the demolition of the former Culliton Building," a spokesperson from the province said.

As for what is next for that lot, the Provincial Capital Commission (PCC) say "Once complete, we anticipate the land will be returned to useable park state."

Fight not over

In February, Brandt Properties Ltd. filed a lawsuit against the provincial government and Provincial Capital Commission (PCC) over the proposed development project.

Brandt is seeking "general damages in an amount to be proven at trial, including damages for lost profit and damage at large," among other things.

Brandt provided a statement to CBC on the lawsuit.

"When we enter into an agreement with another party, we expect it to be honoured. We remained hopeful that the Government would respect the process they put in place — instead the goal posts continued to move, even after the project and process were agreed upon," Brandt said.

It goes on to say that taking legal action was a last resort and "at this point, the project is over. This is incredibly disappointing to us, but more importantly, for CNIB and other charitable organizations in our community."

The province has yet to file a statement of defence in the lawsuit. It also declined to comment on specifics of the lawsuit, saying the matter is before the courts.