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Regina council begins budget discussions by hearing from residents

Regina city council heard from delegations as 2020 budget discussions began Monday night. Roberta Bell / Global News

At the outset of Regina’s 2020 budget deliberations, residents offered input on how city money should be spent.

Nearly 40 delegations signed up to address municipal politicians Monday night, each with a five-minute presentation. From library programming to transit schedules, renewable energy to recreation, people shared with council the areas in which they hoped to see — or to not see — funding allocated next year.

Half of the delegations signed up to speak about the future of Regent Park Par 3 Golf Course. Bobbi Stadnyk, of the Coronation Park community group, was one of them.

READ MORE: Regina’s Regent Par 3 golf course to be a recreational park for the community

Stadnyk and the others were there to request that council reconsider plans to remove trees from the area to create sports field. She estimated the city could save about $3 million by leaving the space as is.

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“They would absolutely not have to spend that money,” Stadnyk said in an interview with Global News. “I think the City of Regina should really, really consider what they’re doing to one of our oldest urban forests.”

Regina Multisport Club President Rob Nelson requested that council consider an additional $4 million for Wascana Pool. He was one of five people scheduled to speak on the topic.

“We need the capacity. If we do not have enough capacity to swim, our swimmers, our athletes, cannot train adequately,” Nelson told Global News.

He would like to see the city proceed with recreational amenities such as slides and lazy rivers at the facility, but opt for a 50-metre long pool.

“That’s what I’m here asking for: to have our cake and eat it, too,” Nelson said. “They are pulled in a number of ways during budget night and there are always more projects to do than money to do the projects. They’re in tough spot.”

Terri Sleeva, a longtime member of the Regina Citizen’s Transit Coalition, was one of a handful of people who addressed council on transit issues. She noted Regina Transit is more engaged with her group than in the past, but that the service on the whole is not adequate.

Sleeva asked council to consider more frequent service and longer operational hours.  She suggested subsidized fares — and eventually, free service.

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“The department itself tries so hard to deal with the dollars that they have, but there isn’t enough dollars,” said Sleeva, who wants the $40 million increased.

READ MORE: City of Regina releases proposed 2020 budget, eyes 3.25% mill rate increase

The proposed budget would see a mill rate increase of 3.25 per cent. Administration says that would work out to a property tax increase of about $5.60 a month for a home assessed at $350,000.

Broken down, the city says 2.3 per cent of the total proposed mill rate increase will bolster civic and Regina Police Service Operations, 0.45 per cent of the increase would go towards the repayment of Mosaic Stadium, and 0.5 per cent of the increase would go towards a dedicated “Recreation Infrastructure Program.”

Council will resume budget discussions at city hall at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday.

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