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‘Renew Regina’: The top revitalization priorities for the city’s mayoral candidates

From new sporting facilities to removing downtown levies, renewal and revitalization are key platform components for many of Regina's mayoral candidates. Adrian Raaber / Global News

Standing in the vacant seven-and-a-half acre lot that once housed the Saskatchewan Roughriders, Ward 10 councillor and Regina mayoral candidate Jerry Flegel laid out his future plans for the old Taylor Field site.

“This is the start of where we’re going to renew Regina,” Flegel told the media on Tuesday.

Renewal and revitalization are key components of many candidates’ platforms, even though their ideas for moving the city forward differ.

Flegel’s vision for Taylor Field includes developing two to three acres of land right away, building apartments, townhouses and green space. From there, a grocery store and potential health-care services would follow.

Read more: Economic recovery, policing and Macdonald statue covered in Regina mayoral debate

He hopes construction would start by next fall.

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“It’s going to create local jobs, it’s going to create permanent jobs for the people in the area if they want to come and work at the stores,” he said, adding that he’s already talked to three developers interested in the project.

“The more homes you build for homeless and more income, your crime rate starts to go down.”

Second on Flegel’s list is developing the Dewdney rail yards, and in the next three to five years a downtown arena would come.

On Tuesday, Flegel also announced his promise for a five per cent rebate on 2021 property taxes. It’s meant to offer relief for all taxpayers in the city, he said.

“It’s going to help the business community. It’s going to help the residential community.”

All taxpayers would have to apply for the rebate, but no one would be denied, according to Flegel.

Read more: Regina municipal election: Mayoral candidates

Sandra Masters has her own ideas for new builds. She’s proposing an $85-million aquatic centre that will replace the “crumbling” Lawson facility.

Once the public engagement and planning and design phases are complete, Masters is hopeful construction could start next year.

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“The lack of shovel-ready projects right now is indicative of a lack of planning at the city,” Masters said in Monday night’s debate.

She also wants to remove the 29 per cent intensification levy on downtown builds and renovations, in order to attract more development. Incumbent Michael Fougere agrees the levy needs to change but did not specify if he would remove it altogether.

It’s not the only point Masters and Fougere agree on. Both want to see something done with the city rail lines that cut across Ring Road through the city.

Masters admitted there probably isn’t much appetite from the federal and provincial governments to fund a relocation project during the middle of a pandemic, but she says there are other options.

“What we have right now is a literal scar running through the middle of our city,” Masters said.

“We bought the air rights over that rail station which is how we can get a bridge. We should be putting artistic installations along that line.”

Read more: Advance voting underway for Regina’s civic election

Fougere promises to speed up the removal and relocation process of the Ring Road train tracks, if re-elected.

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He also has plans to move buses from 11th Avenue to Lorne Street downtown and reinvest parking fines into Regina’s Downtown Business Improvement District.

“Their priorities are to fix the streets, to fix the light standards and the public infrastructure to make it more attractive,” Fougere said.

Candidate Tony Fiacco agrees downtown revitalization is key, although new “megaprojects” aren’t the answer.

“[Other candidates] talk about a stadium, moving a field, moving the rail lines, building a new pool. Let’s take care of our current infrastructure,” Fiacco said.

“We’ll look at bringing in more people to live in downtown and more businesses coming into the city. We need to promote the city better than what we have done.”

It’s not just about downtown, though. Fiacco wants to revitalize the two adjacent neighbourhoods: Heritage and North Central.

He says he will do that through a property tax initiative and by removing the red tape developers currently face.

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Regina residents go to the polls Nov. 9.