Regina brewing company questions catalyst committee's focus on large building projects

A craft brewery in Regina is questioning the priorities of the catalyst committee.  (Radio-Canada - image credit)
A craft brewery in Regina is questioning the priorities of the catalyst committee. (Radio-Canada - image credit)

A brewing company on the edge of downtown Regina is questioning the city's priorities after a week-long set of consultations on the future of the area.

Two weeks ago, the catalyst committee held a series of eight meetings to ask the public what they thought about five large projects in the city — a replacement for the Brandt Centre, a new central library, a new aquatic facility, an outdoor soccer field and a new baseball stadium.

Combined, the projects could cost the city more than $490 million to complete.

While District Brewing said it's excited about the prospect of revitalizing the city centre and Warehouse District, it believes the city should put greater focus on initiatives like battling homelessness and more accessible public transit.

"We have no issues with their goals. We also want to see a vibrant and revitalized downtown," Meghan Trenholm, the company's director of marketing and communications told CBC Radio's The Morning Edition.

"[But] the consultations were rushed, the survey was quite flawed and we really feel that Council's priorities should be elsewhere at this time."

Trenholm noted that there had been eight plans released by the city over the past 15 years — from Regina's Downtown Plan and 8 Big Moves in 2007 to this year's Regina Rapid Housing Initiative and Home Fire Project that should be addressed first.

She brought up one project included in those plans — affordable housing to be built on both the former CP Railyards site as well as the former Taylor Field site. According to a city website, the Taylor Field site was included in the Land Development Master Plan Review, and a report on the site would be headed to council by the end of the year.

However, in a previous interview, Mayor Sandra Masters noted that council has not voted on the project and was never committed to.

"I don't know who promised housing. I have no idea actually where anyone can find that promise," Masters told The Morning Edition.

"That was one of the ideas by the consultant at the time."

Masters noted that there had been 766 affordable housing units that had been added throughout the city in the past three years.

She said that the aims of the catalyst committee do not necessarily translate into solving issues like homelessness.

"It's not intended to help with the social issues," said Masters.

"That would be like asking the question, 'What do roads do for social issues?' They don't. Other than, not having potholes for city citizens is recommended."

However, District Brewing's Trenholm argues that the city — and specifically the downtown — would benefit from more spending on issues like transit and battling homelessness.

She said workers at the company felt frustrated with the process and decided to speak out.

"Honestly, this came up around the water cooler and around the coffee machine," said Trenholm.

"Someone mused about the fact like someone should say something about this. And of course, being the communications person, I said, 'We have a platform, we could say something. It's really just reflecting the things that our staff feels as citizens."

The catalyst committee's report is due to be submitted to council by the end of 2022.