Regina stadium plans get a yes vote
Emma Graney, The Leader-Post September 6, 2012
REGINA -- After close to two hours of discussion, the question "All in favour?" resulted in a unanimous raising of hands in the Regina Executive Committee meeting chambers on Wednesday.
The committee was talking about the new stadium planned for the city.
The five-part recommendation adopted by the committee brings the Regina Revitalization Initiative one step closer to reality, but it will still have to clear a fullcouncil vote.
Following the meeting, Regina Mayor Pat Fiacco had a smile on his face.
"This is one of the biggest projects this city has taken on," he told reporters.
"I think (Wednesday's) meeting dispelled some myths and I think, when conceptual drawings come out in the next couple of weeks
and we have some feedback from citizens, that will bring some more clarity."
When it comes to financial implications for Regina residents, the plan OKs a 0.45-per-cent increase in mill rates every year for a decade.
Deputy city manager and chief financial officer Brent Sjoberg said that cash would likely go into a reserve fund for the time being and would help pay for stadium maintenance.
The recommendation adopted on Wednesday had five parts:
. The city will proceed with a Design/Build/Finance (DBF) procurement approach, meaning payment happens after the city is satisfied with construction.
. Request for proposal documents will be prepared by city administration and come back before council prior to approval.
. Conceptual designs and agreements with stadium funding partners will come back to council for final approval.
. The Regina Exhibition Association Ltd. (REAL) will operate and maintain the new stadium.
. Up to $2.5 million can be transferred from the city's general reserve fund to support the first stages of the project.
The $2.5 million from the city's coffers is "the cost of doing business," Fiacco said, adding the next step was to go out and see what that private sector would come forward with for the stadium's design.
"In terms of best practice concerns, we're following those to make sure we're limiting the risk to our taxpayers and what the price is that we're willing to pay," he said.
Fiacco also emphasized the stadium is only one facet of the entire Regina Revitalization Initiative.
"At this stage, council and administration have provided a considerable amount of time and effort providing a replacement for Mosaic Stadium, providing obviously a new neighbourhood where Mosaic currently is and the development of CP lands that will be purchased by the city," he said.
"This is not just about the stadium, it's about the whole revitalization initiative, but today's discussion was about the stadium, because that's the first step."
During the executive committee's discussion, Coun. Fred Clipsham noted the importance of community consultation.
"We need public involvement beyond some nice drawings," he said.
"It may well be that we go to the community and we may get some very useful suggestions about what the stadium should include."
Part of that revolves around using the facility year-round, and Sjoberg said the plan was to consult with community sporting groups. As yet, however, no discussions have been planned with such groups or with Sask Sport.
"People won't be playing football in there in January, but there will be many other facilities inside that can be used year-round," he said, listing the stadium entry, club seats and lounges
"This is quite a significantly different facility than we have currently. Every 20 to 30 years there have been upgrades and investments to (Mosiac) and ... we want to create a scenario where we don't replicate that environment."
Councillors Michael Fougere and John Findura gave the project their seal of approval, Fougere noting, "Now is the time to do this."
"This is a small price to keep our children off the streets and hone their skills, and I feel comfortable that this is money well-spent," Findura said.
"As a community, our responsibility and burden is to ensure there's enough out there so our sons and daughters aren't hanging out on fences looking for trouble."