New plans approved by Regina’s city council to demolish a pair of houses on Scarth Street for a new parking lot are drawing disapproval from a former resident of one of the houses.
Kim Sakundiak used to live in one of the two houses seated along Scarth Street between 13th and 14th Avenues. In the ’90s, she says the house was filled with high energy, but now, it sits boarded up on a street surrounded by office buildings.
“I think people would probably think, ‘Oh, that’s ridiculous, being so sad over this rundown little house,’ but to me, it’s more than just that house, it’s the whole community, the whole downtown,” Sakundiak said. “For me, every time I go downtown I drive past my little house and I’m like, ‘Oh, my house is still there,’ and now it won’t be.”
Earlier this month, Regina city council approved the demolition of the houses to make way for a new parking lot for an office building across the street. The parking lot would be exclusively used by the office building.
“The applicant property has applied to accommodate a 13-stall parking lot in place of those two homes,” said Ben Mario, Regina’s city planning manager.
Sakundiak lived in the house as a young adult for 15 years in the ’90s and early 2000s. It was her first home living independently and she says the planned demolition is heartbreaking.
She says she had some of her fondest memories in that house and her attachment to it is very high. Her mother even had a painting of the house commissioned for her.
“At that time, downtown was a community, it wasn’t as disjointed as it kind of feels right now,” Sakundiak said. “A lot of my early memories are just working downtown and then staying after work and going to different clubs or restaurants and meeting up with friends who also lived downtown.”
She even remembers the house and her neighbours next door. That house is also to be demolished.
“There were also other friends that lived in that house next door and we were pretty tight. I remember one time our house was broken into and the neighbour came home while it was happening and she actually chased them down the street and retrieved our stereo, so everyone really looked out for each other.”
Some residents, like Bici Pierno, feel that there definitely is a need for more parking in downtown Regina.
“There definitely is not enough parking lots and the spots are so small,” Pierno said. “I think the city needs different solutions on where to find parking for a little more than two hours sometimes, for people that have meetings or appointments.”
But Sakundiak feels different about parking lots. She says the city already has many parking lots and it has lost its vision for proper development.
“They have allowed the downtown to become this dead space that nobody wants to be in, there’s no character left, there’s nothing downtown to draw people in,” Sakundiak said.
Sakundiak mostly recalls the community feel that downtown had when she lived there. Now, she says it’s just a shell of its former self.
“It was just a different time. When you look around now there’s just nothing but empty lots and boarded-up houses…. I don’t think there needs to be more parking lots downtown.”
The city says it’s aware of the discourse when it comes to parking lots, but that they are necessary.
“Parking is a fact of life, you need to accommodate it somehow,” Mario said. “Most business owners would tell you that their customers require it…, Within the downtown, it’s definitely a controversial topic because the intent of a good urban environment is really to have consistent and active urban frontage.”
While there’s no expected demolition date, the applicant property says they would like it done “right away.”