As Regina plans for a 300,000-person population in the future, the city released a plan to drive its economic growth and prosperity over the next 10 years.
The Regina 2030 Economic Growth Plan, created by Economic Development Regina (EDR), was officially presented to the public Thursday after recently being approved by city council.
“This is a plan that started last year. We had 21 key stakeholders, 200 residents in 16 round tables and 1,400 people went online to give their opinion on what we should be doing,” Regina Mayor Michael Fougere said.
“This is a culmination of a lot of work by many people on a clear vision for the future.”
According to the plan, the City of Regina has a goal to become “Canada’s Most Vibrant City” by 2030.
The document states that its collective aim is to “promote the Greater Regina Area (GRA) as a leading destination for visitors, talent, businesses and investment in our community.”
The plan has 19 actions that EDR said will drive economic growth and prosperity into the future.
One of the actions in the plan is for Regina to become Canada’s most vibrant city that is “known as the best host for events, conventions and tradeshows in Canada.”
“A fundamental pillar is linking the events, conventions, trade shows and visitor experiences to our key sectors,” EDR director Murad Al-Katib said.
“We want to build on the Western Canada Farm Progress Show, Agribition, agricultural trade and cultural events. We want those to be re-created to address the new digital agricultural economy and the new demand for global protein.”
Another mention in the plan is positioning Regina as a food hub for the country and the world and more emphasis on tourism and entrepreneurship in the city.
To accomplish these goals, additional action plans include establishing an event fund, execute a winter strategy and increase employment participation, education and investment opportunities for Indigenous peoples and newcomers.
Both the city and EDR said collaborating with all three levels of government is key to seeing this plan through.
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While the strategy was created before COVID-19, Fougere said the plan will build upon the strengths of today while positioning the city to grow post-pandemic.
“This document talks about the grand scheme of how we will move forward and supporting those entrepreneurs today, as they move through the pandemic and change their business model, but also how we can target our resources into the future,” Fougere said.
“As we come through the pandemic, we want to focus on and of course this strategy talks about how we become crystal clear on the marketing of the city, how we see ourselves as a destination and the image of the city as well.”
Mayoral candidates react
The plan does not include timelines or dollar figures as that will be left to future decision makers.
Ward 8 Coun. Jerry Flegel, who is running to become mayor of Regina, said he hopes the document is a directive from EDR – and not Fougere, who is seeking re-election.
Flegel said while there are lot of ideas in the plan, council had little input into its direction.
“At the end of the day, when you look at city council, we’re supposed to be the ones that are making these decisions and we were really not kept in the loop that well,” he said, adding the plan lacks depth.
Flegel pointed to one action item of “activating the City of Regina cultural plan,” which he said has been ongoing for a few years.
“But generally, if we’re going to progress and go forward, we need to have some sort of plan – this is a start,” he said.
“I hope that EDR – and they’re a great group of people – take direction from the city and take direction from the residents of Regina.”
Mayoral candidate Sandra Masters said while she agrees with building on sectors of strength – such as agrifoods and technology – she doesn’t believe the plan fully considers what that means.
“Who is going to take responsibility or even what success actually looks like?” Masters said,
“This seems like a plan that was rushed through so that Mr. Fougere could take credit for it during the campaign, instead of a fulsome, complete plan for the benefit of our city.”
Other candidates running for mayor of Regina are Darren Bradley, Jim Elliot, Tony Fiacco, Jerry Flegel, Mitchell Howse and George Wooldridge.
EDR said it was ready to work with whomever is elected in the upcoming provincial and municipal elections scheduled for Oct. 26 and Nov. 9, respectively.
-With files from Daniella Ponticelli