The proposal to have the former Capital Pointe site be a temporary parking lot for one year has been approved.
Regina's new city council voted 6-5 in favour of the proposal. A developer has said it is interested in purchasing the land if it had approval to use it as a parking lot for a one-year term.
The city is owed $2.8 million from the property.
Councillors Landon Mohl, Jason Mancinelli, Terina Shaw, John Findura and Lori Bresciani voted in favour, along with Mayor Sandra Masters.
"I feel that I need to put a little bit of a trust going forward," Findura said. "I would like to see it move forward, get out of that hole."
Councillors Andrew Stevens, Bob Hawkins, Cheryl Stadnichuk, Shanon Zachidniak and Daniel LeBlanc voted against the proposal.
"I think it's a mistake, frankly," Stevens said. "There was such promise with that corner. It really fell short and went from a hole to a buried hole now to a parking lot. And I'm not sure what's worse from a planning perspective. There was absolutely no reason to approve this."
Masters said that the city is not in the business of commercial real estate development.
"I have a bigger fear that if we don't provide what assistance we can in terms of facilitating a sale, that we end up ... we can end up with possession of it for years," Masters said.
It was the first time the new council was together. It approved a new meeting schedule and will now meet twice a month instead of once a month.
Councillor Lori Bresciani is in her second term. She said from her view, the first meeting went smoothly.
"Of course, there's the procedural things that take a little bit of time. But I thought overall it was very, very well done," Bresciani said. "Mayor Masters did a great job and actually all of councillors spoke. So I think, again, very inclusive. And at the end of the day, that's what we want."
New wellness committee, no more mandatory written statements for delegates
City council also created a new community wellness committee. The committee will discuss housing, poverty reduction, mental and physical wellness, addiction, discrimination and other social determinants of health and crime.
Masters said this is more important than ever during the COVID-19 pandemic and that the city needs to support those combating the increasing number of overdoses.
"The city needs to continue to support the services that are providing the [naloxone] kits and arriving on scene for the overdoses," Masters said.
She said the city also needs to build relationships with different levels of government for funding initiatives. Masters said a safe consumption site is one of the options the committee could look into. She said she's interested in hearing from Prairie Harm Reduction about the one in Saskatoon.
"As well as looking at other best practices in other communities for the success stories that they've had or perhaps mistakes that have been made or learned lessons," she said.
Stevens said the creation of the committee is symbolic right now and hopes it shows commitment to these issues.
"I think what's really exciting about this new council and mayor is that everybody's talking about addictions, social determinants of health and community well-being," Stevens said.
Also during the meeting, city council debated the mandatory written statements that previously had to be provided by people hoping to address the councillors.
Councillor Stevens brought forward an amendment and said he has worked with people with intellectual disability who have trouble with the written requirement. People did not have to read their written statement verbatim.
The idea passed with only Councillor Shaw opposed. Now people wanting to speak to the council will need to tell city administration in advance and will be encouraged to provide a written submission so the city administration can prepare answers, but the written submission is not a requirement.
Both the priorities and planning committee and the finance and administration committee were cut, with their responsibilities transferred to the executive committee.
The community and protective services committee and the public works and infrastructure committee also merged into a new operations and community services committee.