Hundreds gather to stare at Regina construction site hole and say 'wow' like Owen Wilson
It started as a joke, but hundreds of people gathered at the intersection of Victoria Avenue and Albert Street in Regina Saturday to protest a job site that has been nothing but a hole for almost a decade.
The Capital Pointe condo building that was supposed to stand proudly at one of the city's busiest crossings has been at a standstill for years. Plans for a 26-floor building, at the site of the former Plains Hotel, began in 2010. The new building was expected to be completed by June 2015.
The City of Regina ordered Fortress Real Developments to fill the hole earlier this month but the company appealed that order on Tuesday.
Local resident Paula Krasiun-Winsel was so unimpressed with the gaping hole that she organized an event through Facebook titled, "We all stare at the Capital Pointe Hole and say 'wow' like Owen Wilson."
When hundreds showed up to do just that, the advocate said it was far more than she'd expected.
"When I originally came up with the idea for the event, I was hoping it would just be me and a couple of friends with this inside joke and it ended up being a thing where people that I didn't even know showed up," she told CBC. "I think I was able to engage people that normally wouldn't be engaged with civil action.
"By it being sort of a joke and saying 'Wow,' like Owen Wilson, it gave the opportunity for folks who are maybe on the wary side of civil action or disobedience to engage in a comfortable way with a message that had some political undertones."
Calls for affordable housing instead
If the Capital Pointe project doesn't come through, Krasiun-Winsel said she hopes to see the site used for affordable housing.
"By creating affordable, safe, accessible housing, we're able to house as many people as possible while actually making the site something other than a hole," she said.
Aidan Wotherspoon said some event attendees were circulating a petition calling for exactly that.
"If you're not in downtown or Cathedral, you pretty much have to own a vehicle and that can be a big cost of living," Wotherspoon said. "So if you have somewhere affordable in the core of the city, like here, it could go a long way in reducing poverty and making life easier for families and people in the city."
Wotherspoon said he saw the event as an opportunity to call attention to the hole, which he calls "embarrassing," in a "goodhearted, goodspirited way."
"It makes this intersection really unsafe for pedestrians and no city should ever be OK with this and no city council should ever be OK with this," Wotherspoon said.
Court system in control
Ward 3 councillor Andrew Stevens spoke at the event, saying the city no longer has control over what happens at the site because the issue is in the hands of the court system.
In August, the city asked the developer to clear the sidewalk on Victoria Avenue in front of its construction site. Shortly after that, Fortress set up a pedestrian tunnel walkway along Victoria.
The sidewalk in that area was completely blocked off by jobsite fencing prior.
Dale Schattenkirk, who is from Toronto but in the city visiting his son, said the project was a silly idea from the start.
"I'm not too sure what they were thinking they were going to build here or actually get people to spend a million dollars on a condo in downtown Regina," he said. "It's not the type of environment or city that has that.
"Something needs to be done. Fill it in, get it over with, move on or build the building, one or the other."