Regina executive committee recommends rapid housing units go ahead

·2 min read
Council will now have to approve this at its next meeting if it wants to move forward. (Kirk Fraser/CBC - image credit)
Council will now have to approve this at its next meeting if it wants to move forward. (Kirk Fraser/CBC - image credit)

Controversy around a rapid housing initiative in Regina reared its head again Wednesday at an executive committee meeting.

Some delegations did speak in favour of the initiative, and those against shared mostly common concerns around safety and location.

Last July, the city was awarded $7.75 million from the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation to help build 29 affordable housing units. The housing units would be for those transitioning away from homelessness and reintegrating into the community, families included.

The money is not being used for an emergency shelter — something that seemed to cause confusion among delegates.

In December, it was announced the site would be located at 120 Broad Street, near Imperial Community School and a seniors care home.

Mayor Sandra Masters said she was able to speak with the school board and school administration earlier in the week.

"Any concerns they have, they're more than willing as [are the partners in this], in working together to allay any of those concerns," she said.

There is a misconception that people would be coming and going constantly, or that people using the housing are dangerous, said Erica Beaudin from Regina Treaty/Status Indian Services, the organization that would be running the housing units.

The people accessing these particular units would have already been working with supports for months and who are ready to live independently.

"We see this as still the continuum of services for individuals so that they become independent, responsible citizens in the city of Regina," she said during the meeting.

Matt Duguid/CBC
Matt Duguid/CBC

Much was said about the consultation process for these units, something both administration and the mayor have said they are working on for next time.

City administration looked at around 20 more options for these units, according to city manager Chris Holden. When it comes to real estate dealings, things cannot always be made public until there is a sale or at least a price, something that's common practice for a city, Holden said.

Councillor Terina Shaw took issue with that and wanted to see an exact list, and questioned Holden as to if administration had really done that work.

"We explored up to 20 properties, and the question by Councillor Shaw is: are we to believe you? Are we to take you at your word? And the answer is absolutely," he said.

"We are your administration. We are professionals. We have an obligation to make sure that we are providing you advice.... If you don't have trust and confidence in your administration, then we have a different situation to discuss."

The recommendations were approved at the committee level, meaning council will look at this issue during their next meeting on Feb. 2. Councillors Mohl, Bresciani, and Shaw voted against.