Regina councillor gauging public interest on rail yard recreation hub

Regina city Coun. Jerry Flegel says he wants to know what the public's appetite is for a possible recreation hub in the city's currently vacant rail yard.

The 8.1-hectare (17.5-acre) rail yard off Dewdney Avenue has long been vacant. Redevelopment plans were announced in 2015, and the site is expected to be home to commercial and residential developments.

Any development would be the responsibility of the private sector, and could still be decades away.

"Dewdney Avenue has been sitting vacant for seven years," Flegel said Wednesday.

"I just thought we're looking at things to build condos, build commercial [space], build retail [space], build office space — we need something to draw people downtown."

The city purchased a portion of the rail yard from Canadian Pacific in 2012 and it has essentially sat undeveloped since then.

At one point, the city had considered it a site for the new Mosaic Stadium, but once that plan failed, no other ideas were brought forward until now.

Matthew Howard/CBC

Flegel said the Western Canadian Baseball League's Regina Red Sox, for example, draw about 1,000 people per game. If people were going downtown instead of to the Uplands neighbourhood for games, it would result in fewer parking and traffic issues for residents there.

Businesses could then possibly benefit from increased pedestrian traffic nearby, Flegel said.

"I've heard no negative yet. I'm not talking dollars and cents yet," the Ward 10 councillor said. "I think there's a need, but is there a passion to go ahead and do this?"

Depending on the interest and feedback, Flegel could bring forward a motion at a later council meeting to amend the city's Regina Revitalization Initiative, which the city calls the largest urban revitalization project in Regina's history.

Submitted by Jerry Flegel

The hub would be situated on either the east or west side of the yard and would include amenities like a baseball diamond, stands, parking and room for a farmers market.

There would also be space for pickleball, ice pads, skateboarding and a culture centre, according to Flegel's concept art.