Regina takes new approach to eliminating crime by boosting recreation, culture fund

The Maple Leaf pool is one project that will receive funding through the city's new Recreation Infrastructure Program.
The Maple Leaf pool is one project that will receive funding through the city's new Recreation Infrastructure Program. Derek Putz / Global News

Regina city manager Chris Holden called the 2020 budget the most exciting in recent history because of what it will do for recreation and culture in the community.

“I get very excited about the quality of life,” Holden said. “When we live in a city we all expect to have water and roads, but really I think people choose to live in communities for what they can do with their children and families.”

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During the 2020 budget, council approved $3 million for the establishment of an ongoing culture and recreation program. The money will be used to fund spray pads, accessible playgrounds, multi-use pathways, a new public art program and renovations at the Globe Theatre.

The fund was created by eliminating $3 million worth of managerial positions at city hall.

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On top of that, 0.5 per cent of the 2020 mill rate increase and any mill rate increase over the next five years will fund parks, recreation and culture. By 2024, the fund will have $10 million.

“It means for the first time we’ll have monies to put into the things that our recreation infrastructure report recommended,” said Ward 2 Coun. Bob Hawkins. This could be for pools, sport facilities or a new aquatic centre.

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The city has been trying to fund projects in their recreation master plan since the 1980s. The report was updated in 2010, but there still wasn’t any funding. It was updated a third time earlier this year.

“In terms of dedicated funding, Regina has never really had” any for recreational infrastructure, Holden said. “This sets us up to move forward on those plans in a very positive way.”

Holden has been an advocate for funding recreation and culture adequately because of what it can do to help crime.

“If we can make sure our youth have opportunities to do constructive activities, that allows us to make sure our young people are growing up and not getting involved in delinquent activity and not getting involved in gang activity,” Holden said.

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He said there’s been a number of examples — mainly in the United States — where “investments in parks and recreation can reduce some of the societal issues and problems” that face a community.

“Eventually you may be able to decrease funding for police services.”