Regina Exhibition Association Limited (REAL) is requesting $2 million in public funding to complete a $2.8 million renovation to the aging Canada Centre which would help add an indoor skatepark, multi-use recreational courts and more.
They detailed the proposed renovation in a delegation to Regina’s executive committee Wednesday.
The committee unanimously approved the proposal, which require REAL to come up with the remaining $800,000 needed for the renovation through partnerships and other funding sources.
The proposal will be up for final city council approval next Wednesday.
“This is not a concept of creating a brand new facility, it’s using an existing facility differently than we have in the past,” said REAL CEO Tim Reid during the meeting.
“Current operations at the Canada Centre itself loses $110,000 a year. It’s important to recognize that this has a significant impact on an organization that generates half a million dollars in earnings on a good year.”
REAL estimates the renovations would result in 170,000 to 200,000 new annual visitors.
The Canada Centre makeover began last year with the installation of “Volleybarn”, a volleyball facility spearheaded by private funding. Pickleball courts, which will make up the aptly named “Picklebarn” are currently being installed and are also backed by private funding. (Reid added that the “barns” would likely get more formal names at some point but are “kind of fun and catchy for now”).
The indoor skatepark, or “Skatebarn” would feature a mix of public and private investment, with REAL covering a two year lease of facility space for the Regina Skateboarding Coalition (RSC) which would operate the facility and provide equipment like ramps and rails.
The “courtbarn” phase of the project would feature multi-use court flooring for sports like basketball, badminton and tennis and would be installed next year.
Reid added that the facility is currently only in use about 22 weeks a year.
“In this new proposal it will make two or three hundred thousand dollars a year, so yes there will be some additional earnings,” he said.
“Also, with a site that will generate 200,000 visitors a year a building that didn’t have a naming rights sponsor to it might become a little more attractive than it is today.”
Reid said the majority of the public funding requested would go towards leveling flooring, painting, upgrading washrooms and HVAC, improving lighting and general aesthetic improvements.
The public funding for the project would eventually be drawn from the Recreation and Culture Capital Plan through $500,000 in partnerships funding in 2022, and $1.5 million earmarked for a playground and spray pad hub in 2024.
On Wednesday afternoon Regina Mayor Sandra Masters called the proposal a “pretty spectacular use” of a building that’s sits vacant for more than half the year.
“That kind of investment where you can get hundreds of folks into a facility not just for physical health but also mental health is a really good thing,” she said.
RSC vice-president David Chapados said the indoor skatepark will provide much-needed space for a growing skate scene in Regina.
“Especially with the last couple years with the pandemic and everything, so many more people are skating now because its one of those things you can pick up and do by yourself,” he said.
“We’ve seen tons of growth over the past couple years and so there’s definitely a need for more space.”
Currently, there is only one indoor skatepark operating in town, at 306 Sk8 Shop and Skatepark.
“It’s amazing to see something like that in a skate shop but it shouldn’t just be on small business owners to support a citywide scene,” Chapados said.
“It’s been a long battle to see it happen and we’re really, really happy to see this coming.”
The Canada Centre was constructed in 1983 for approximately $6 million.
The proposal will now be up for final approval by Regina city council on June 23.