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CNIB project in Wascana Park moves ahead on condition it improves transparency

CNIB has been in Wascana Park for over 60 years. A redevelopment project aims to keep CNIB in the park but in a facility that's more accessible to the blind.
CNIB has been in Wascana Park for over 60 years. A redevelopment project aims to keep CNIB in the park but in a facility that's more accessible to the blind. File / Global News

On Friday, the Provincial Capital Commission (PCC) announced the proposed CNIB/Brandt building in Wascana Park can move forward in redevelopment based on several conditions.

“We will be requiring the CNIB to provide the tenancy makeup, and detailed information on how it complies with all five pillars of Wascana Centre’s Master Plan,” said CEO of PCC Monique Goffinet Miller.

The five pillars restrict park development to only recreation, cultural, environmental, educational and government purposes.

The CNIB is also required to be transparent with the public by engaging and communicating the land-use of the building.

“Let’s be clear. This project isn’t approved,” said Lori Carr, the minister responsible for PCC. “It’s a concept right now, it’s something we’re moving forward with.”

READ MORE: PCC suspend CNIB/Brandt development in Wascana Park pending audit

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The project remains in its design phase so it’s unknown who will occupy space in the 77,000 square foot proposed building.

CNIB will use 4,200 square feet of the space — rent-free — as part of a donation from Brandt who is the owner of the proposed building.

The proposed CNIB/Brandt building in Wascana Park. The building will replace the former space occupied by the charity.
The proposed CNIB/Brandt building in Wascana Park. The building will replace the former space occupied by the charity. Photo courtesy of CNIB

At a future PCC board meeting, CNIB will be required to present a list of the other tenants. In an effort to be more transparent with the public, PCC has started to post their board meeting highlights online.

Additionally, the tenants will need to be approved by PCC’s Architectural Advisory Committee who will determine if they align with the park’s five pillars.

READ MORE: ‘We should be stopping the Brandt project entirely:’ Ryan Meili calls on halt to CNIB building

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Following Friday’s announcement, CNIB said they’re proud to move the project forward.

“At every stage of the process, we’ve diligently followed the requirements and procedures set out by the relevant authorities, and will be happy to continue doing so,” said CNIB executive director Christall Beaudry in a statement.

“We’re committed to keeping the community engaged and updated about this project as it moves through the remaining stages of the process.”

READ MORE: Design approval for major Wascana Park projects unclear on master plan compliance: auditor

The CNIB launched a website CNIB In The Park in an effort to be transparent and keep the public informed.

CNIB has operated in Wascana Park for over 60 years. The charity says they are redeveloping their space to become more accessible for those with sight loss.

In conjunction with the proposed redevelopment, CNIB says they aim to transform Wascana Centre into Canada’s most accessible park. They are currently working on a project to help blind and partially sighted people navigate the park independently by using an app.