May 6, 2019 7:23 pm
Updated: May 9, 2019 6:50 pm

Full-time special constables to be hired to patrol Wascana Park

Paddlers in a undated file photo of Regina's Wascana Park.

Dave Parsons / Global News

May 9 update: According to Regina City Councillor Barbara Young, who is the city’s voting member on the Provincial Capital Commission, the special constables are being added due to complaints of speeding cars on roadways surrounding Douglas Park, people racing and doing wheelies in the parking lot of Leibel Field, plus other complaints in the Legislative Building parking lot that take place at night. 

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She added the constables will be staffed 24 hours a day and while Regina police are able to respond to calls in the park, they are often too busy to tend to these matters.

The original article continues below.

Full time “special constables” will soon be returning to Regina’s Wascana Park. The Provincial Capital Commission (PCC) is in the process of hiring four constables to patrol the park.

There are currently three part-time constables overseeing the park.

Acting executive director of the PCC Ryan Whippler said this is part of an operation review that has been ongoing since the park transitioned from the Wascana Centre Authority to PCC jurisdiction. He said this operation review included everything from maintenance to security.

“The number one priority is the safety and security of everyone in the park, so that’s first and foremost,” Whippler said.

“Having those members, having a dedicated staff that is in the park every day, having a visible presence, talking to people, informing and educating people on what we do and the bylaws of the centre, that’s what precipitated this.”

READ MORE: Hundreds of dead fish surfacing at Wascana Lake in Regina

The park has had a security presence since the 1960s, according to Whippler. He added that the constable unit saw cuts throughout the 1990s and 2000s, eventually reaching three part-time constables.

Returning to seven members will mean constables will be in the park every day, with four full-time staff.

Whippler expects the hiring process to finish in the next week or two.

Last year, park bylaws and security took centre stage during the Justice for Our Stolen Children protest. Indigenous activists and supports set up a teepee on Wascana Park’s west lawn for about 200 days. Following a police eviction and tensions with the PCC, the main teepee was joined by 14 others.

The oppositions PCC critic Nicole Sarauer has questions on why exactly more security is being hired for the park.

“It’s definitely something that I think the minister should be providing more information and more clarity on,” Sarauer said.

“The question remains – is there a problem that they’re trying to solve? What is the underlying issue that they’re feeling needs to be addressed with more of these special constables?”

READ MORE: Justice for Our Stolen Children camp ordered to leave Wascana Park

Global News initially reached out to PCC Minister Ken Cheveldayoff, but the request was deferred to Whippler.

Whippler said work to add more special constables began in 2017, the protest camp first appeared in February 2018. He added that there were still three part-time constables working in the park while the camp was in place.

While the constable unit focuses on Wascana Park, they do work closely with the Regina Police Service (RPS) on matters related to the park.

The expansion of the special constable unit is being funded as part of a $500,000 funding increase to the PCC as part of the 2019-20 provincial budget.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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