Jerry Flegel has announced that he intends to run for mayor of Regina.
Flegel is currently in his fourth term as city councillor for Ward 10 — the area in north central Regina that includes Rochdale and 12th Avenue North. He is also a realtor with Century 21.
At an event outside the empty space by the Dewdney Avenue railroads Thursday, Flegel said that if elected mayor, he would focus on getting development projects happening sooner, and focus on building communities and affordable housing where needed.
"This has been the secret that has not been a secret for a long time," Flegel began his announcement.
The city is currently working its way through COVID-19 and needs to build a better relationship with the province and medical staff, he said. Flegel said he has a plan for when the pandemic calms down.
"What I want to do is when I become mayor is that I want to set up a committee that is going to relaunch Regina," Flegel said.
Flegel said he wants to gather community members, interest groups, police and the provincial government together to plan how to safely relaunch businesses when the city enters a post-COVID stage.
Flegel said if elected he also wants to focus on developing underutilized land.
"These lands behind me have been sitting empty for a long time and we'll continue to sit empty because the mayor has said 15 to 20 years before we get started," Flegel said.
The city purchased the former Canadian Pacific Railyard lands in 2012 and development was announced in 2015. In 2018, Fougere said development was expected to start around 2020 and the project is expected to take 15 to 20 years to complete.
Flegel said he wants to create a community in the area that includes a ball diamond, farmers' market, pickleball courts, a cultural centre and more.
"We can build a community and tie downtown to the warehouse district. We don't need more condos, we don't need more buildings, we don't need more retail," he said.
Flegel said he agreed to the proposed housing plan as a councillor because it was the flavour of the day, but wants to do differentlin the future. He said interest groups have proposals for housing in other places — including in North Central — and he wants to see development beginning in late 2021.
"We have developers in town ready to go, to do things, but they've been held up," he said. "Let's see what we can do for them."
Flegel said the city also has to look at the Black Lives Matter movement, policing and ways forward.
"We know that either it's defunding, reallocation, there's a whole bunch of different words that you can put on there," Flegel said. "But at the end of the day, we have to make a safe community and a community that everybody is welcome and there's no exceptions."
Flegel said to accomplish that there needs to be leadership from the city. He said that before COVID-19, he was in talks with the provincial helpline and the Regina Police Service about reallocation, but then the pandemic hit and it was put on pause.
Flegel said he is putting his 14 years as a councillor on the line. He said he wants to be different — even though he voted in line with Mayor Michael Fougere on repeated occasions.
"In the political world they say, 'everybody drinks a bit of Kool-Aid.' I'm tired of drinking the same Kool-Aid. And I want to make some new Kool-Aid so everybody can go forward and live a better life in Regina," Flegel said.
When asked if someone younger and more diverse would be a better fit given the recent social movements, Flegel said, "I think I'm quite diverse. I still think I'm young. And I have the experience to go along with it."
Flegel said he's met with various diverse groups in the past and listened to them. He said if a female candidate or younger person wanted to run, he welcomes them to put their hat in the ring and hopes the best candidate wins.