Heritage, leisure: Mayoral candidates make last pitches to voters before Regina's election day

·5 min read

Regina's mayoral candidates are making their final pitches to voters as Regina's election day draws closer.

They're discussing everything from mental health and addictions, to a new leisure centre in Harbour landing and fire response time to heritage buildings.

Incumbent Michael Fougere held two recent media events, the first about the historic Cook Residence on Albert Street. The residence was designated a heritage property by City Council in 2019 and now a developer has filed an application to turn the inside into condos while maintaining the facade.

"I don't support that," Fougere said of the application. "I understand the concerns of residents in the area. They're concerned about the unique heritage nature of the neighborhood. They're also concerned that if this happens in one location, it could be the beginning of a domino effect across the community."

Fougere said he doesn't want to see heritage buildings changed into multi-family dwellings at the Cook Residence or elsewhere in the city. Fougere suggested in the future developers look at vacant lots for multi-family dwelling applications and that there were some in the area.

Heidi Atter/CBC
Heidi Atter/CBC

"I think we need to preserve the unique character of this neighborhood. There's a lot of heritage properties here, a lot of different kinds of homes that are unique and you don't find them anywhere else in the city," Fougere said.

Fougere said he's been inside the Cook Residence before and that it could be fixed up. Fougere said he's also calling on other mayoral candidates to do the same. Sandra Masters was door knocking in the area on Wednesday morning.

"I think this house and this piece of property are a perfect example of how we failed the citizens of Regina," Masters said. "This is a perfect example of, again, of how a lack of planning, a lack of direction and a lack of caring until it's probably too late."

Germain Wilson/CBC
Germain Wilson/CBC

Masters said the current city council seems to not consider heritage properties until there's confusion from developers and local residents.

She said she'd like to see a heritage advisory committee to the city that can review the heritage properties on an annual basis to see what people are planning with them in advance, before an application for renovations is filed.

"It creates uncertainty for everybody. It's pitted our citizens against each other, which is entirely unacceptable. We need plans for our neighbourhoods. We need direction. We actually need a vision for our city," she said.

Jerry Flegel proposing leisure centre in Harbour Landing area

Meanwhile, on Thursday Jerry Flegel held a media event in Harbour Landing where he proposed a new leisure centre for the community.

"As council, we always talk about a complete neighborhood and with a recreational facility, swimming pool, exercise room, a community centre room, all these different types of things. Harbour Landing is one of the areas that is missing this," Flegel said.

Flegel said the population in the area has increased exponentially in the past 10 years and there are a number of young families in the area as well. He said a new centre could also be enjoyed by the surrounding neighbourhoods, not only Harbour Landing.

Germain Wilson/CBC
Germain Wilson/CBC

"The population has gone crazy here and it's a good thing for Regina that we're doing that. But Regina also has to keep up with the recreation and the facilities," Flegel said.

Flegel said funding for the centre could come from all three levels of government. He said it's important to look at developing the next five to 35 years to build a city people don't need to leave.

"With the influx of young families, young people, this is the type of project that we need," Flegel said. "But if you don't start and plan something, you're never going to get anywhere."

Fougere finishes platform announcements with mental health, addictions

Fougere also held another media conference on Thursday. He said it was the final priority in his platform and spoke about his concerns with mental health and addictions.

"I'd characterize it as being the other pandemic that we have that we're suffering through," Fougere said. "But, not just Regina, Saskatchewan, but throughout Canada. It is a big issue."

Fougere said he's attended many fundraisers for mental health and he's heard local stories about people who have struggled or know people who have struggled.

If re-elected, Fougere said he would provide $250,000 from the city to create a community-run initiative that would be a phone line for people struggling.

Matt Duguid/CBC
Matt Duguid/CBC

"So when you phone and you have an issue, you're dealing with your thoughts of suicide or you're really struggling, you can phone and actually talk to someone directly," Fougere said.

Fougere said this would be run by a non-profit and be a Regina-specific line to help locally and compliment the province's work on suicide prevention. When it comes to addictions, Fougere said the phone line would help point people to what services may be best.

In the long run, Fougere said a safe consumption site may be an option if a community organization was interested. He said more conversations are needed about it.

Candidate Tony Fiacco is set to hold an event on Friday to discuss COVID-19 in Regina. Also this week he issued a statement where he said he's concerned about substandard fire response times in the city's southeast.

Fiacco said in a release that the fire response times to the Greens on Gardiner and The Creeks haven't met the minimum standards for the city.

"We spoke with these residents to research a campaign platform that's meaningful to them," Fiacco said. "They told us they are worried about the fire response times and we investigated."

The Regina Fire Department's goal is to arrive at a structure fire in less than seven minutes 90 per cent of the time. Fiacco said if elected, he will work with the fire department to reduce the response times.

Measures being considered by Regina Fire and Protective Services include upgrading traffic pre-emption equipment and improving electronic mapping.