City of Regina discussing plans for new recreation facilities, event venues

The City of Regina's executive committee discussed possible upgrades for Regina’s recreation facilities and event venues during a meeting Wednesday.

A new event centre, an aquatic facility, and Regina baseball needs were all presented to the committee, highlighting the needs for upgrades.

A motion was passed for a Catalyst Committee to review all three venues presented Wednesday and engage in public feedback in order to assess the best move forward.

“We could have gone about this by approaching the matter, one facility at a time: arena and then maybe a pool and so on but instead we have a unique opportunity to do planning and plan all of these facilities together,” said coun. Bob Hawkins.

Regina Exhibition Association Limited (REAL) C.E.O., Tim Reid, and Hawkins will co-lead the committee, and bring findings back by the end of the year.

“We’re looking for a variety of input from all the stakeholders, I think the committee will consist of folks with different perspectives,” added Hawkins.

“A plan we can take to funding partners, private investment partners, and find out just how we can advance all these initiatives,” said Reid in response to funding for these projects.

A feasibility study looking into the city’s aquatic centres was presented, along with a call for an assessment of the baseball needs of the community, which was unanimously passed.

Looking to improve the facilities isn’t the only duty of the council.

A layout where all major facilities could be in walking distance to each other is being assessed, as well as adding bike and walking paths to improve the appeal, especially in an area like downtown.

The committee heard an update from the Arena Planning Strategy Committee on the feasibility of the future development of a brand new entertainment district, at an undetermined date in the future.

“Today was a day filled with fantastic work done by three separate committees talking about three separate projects,” explained Reid. “I think what council approved today was an opportunity to pull that all together and come back by year end to have a more wholesome conversation with the public.”

INDOOR AQUATIC FACILITIES

The city also received an update on a feasibility study for a new indoor aquatics facility.

The study includes an assessment of the Lawson Aquatic Centre and its role in the future of Regina aquatic centres.

Representatives from Regina swim teams spoke at the meeting, arguing the Lawson pool is not big enough to support Regina and suggesting the city needs a new facility to enhance water sports and host major events in the future.

“The Regina Piranhas are firmly in favour of the construction of a new, larger, state of the art aquatics facility in Regina,” said Tracy Moser, president of the Regina Piranha’s Swim Club.

Craig Nieuwstad, head coach of the Regina Optimist Dolphins Swim Team, was also a delegate at the meeting Wednesday.

“Members of the public, including recreational and leisure swim, city programs, school visitations and user groups all vying for space and the Lawson’s ability to accommodate this cannot be sustained,” he said.

Presenting three options, a revitalization of the Lawson, a brand new facility and an enhanced new facility, the study suggests that the second option is the most viable.

Saying in total it could cost $172.6 million for the new facility, given the state of the Lawson, and the location, upgrades to the facility would cost about the same, without the newer improvements of energy and sustainability frameworks.

BASEBALL NEEDS ASSESSMENT

The council passed the City Planning and Community Development division request for a feasibility study on a new multi-purpose, mixed use, synthetic turf outdoor facility, to meet the needs of recreational users and high performance baseball.

The report recommends a payment of $15,000 to REAL, for the city’s share of the study.

The total project budget for the study is $30,000, with costs shared between the city, REAL and Living Skies Sports and Entertainment.