Regina city council has formally approved key plans, including a financial model, for a new football stadium promised for 2017.
"I think we're doing it for the kids," Coun. Bob Hawkins said, as council members voted on a series of motions that move the city's plans forward.
The vote was 10-1, with Mayor Michael Fougere and nine councillors in favour and Coun. Shawn Fraser against.
For property taxpayers, there are cash implications — it will mean a 0.45 per cent hike on the city portion of taxes this year and the total "stadium tax" rate escalating every year until it's 4.5 per cent in 2022.
The concept began as an initiative of former Regina mayor Pat Fiacco who advocated a plan for a downtown — covered — facility, with participation from the federal and provincial governments.
When it became clear there would be no federal dollars available, the city — along with provincial officials and the Saskatchewan Roughriders — devised a new plan for a stadium on the exhibition grounds that would be "roof-ready".
While Fiacco did not seek another term as mayor, current mayor Michael Fougere was on council as the plans progressed from concepts to commitments.
Fougere, who won the mayor's chair in October, said he believes he has a mandate to follow through with the latest stadium plan.
"We just went through an election," he said on election night. "I was elected mayor on this platform[and the] public wants us to move forward."
The construction cost for the stadium has been set at $278 million.
The City of Regina will contribute $73 million to the project, another $80 million will come from the province and $25 million from the Saskatchewan Roughriders. Regina will also borrow $100 million from the province.
The overall cost of the project rises when maintenance and borrowing expenses are factored in.
Monday's council session involved several hours of presentations from the public before the politicians voted.
Ahead of the voting, council members heard submissions from more than a dozen delegations — members of the public who requested an opportunity to address council.
Here are some highlights of their presentations, as filed with the city in advance of the meeting:
- Chad Novak: "How can we honestly put our faith in a civic government that couldn't properly manage a $6 million project [City Square Plaza], to properly plan and execute a $300 million project?"
- Rhonda Poll: "Before Regina city councillors convict and shackle an entire generation of Regina citizens to over 30 years of unforgiving, unnecessary debt, I strongly suggest that every member of council ... acquire a comprehensive understanding of the disordered ... economies that still struggle to climb out of the chasm created by the great recession of 2008."
- Terri Sleeva: "My particular concern this evening is that, given the enormous cost of the stadium project, there is unlikely to be any money even for small projects."
- Lesley Farley: "I think that taxpayer dollars would be used more effectively by simply renovating the existing Mosaic Stadium and preserving and renovating our existing community centers, outdoor pools, libraries and any other existing infrastructure that benefits communities within the city."
- Florence Stratton: "The funding model is like a house of cards. If any of the assumptions on which it is based change, the model will collapse and the stadium will cost even more than the projected $633.2 million. Who will pay? Who else but Regina residents."
- Mark Spooner: "The stadium funding as proposed is not a good deal, it is not even set up to be collected while you who are making this decision sits on council, and all the true options for the current stadium have not been openly presented to the public."
- Beryl Forgay: "Please don't place the businesses of the city above the needs of suffering citizens. The stadium can wait. Those freezing in our cold city can't."
- John Hopkins (CEO Regina & District Chamber of Commerce): "This is an urban revitalization project on a large scale that looks to address a range of community needs. ... Public funding for professional sporting facilities is not an anomaly but rather the norm."
- Wayne Morsky (Saskatchewan Roughriders Football Club Board of Directors): "Mosaic Stadium is over 100 years old and has served its purpose well over the years, but it requires major renovations just to remain functional. ... Building a new stadium will give fans and user groups a world-class venue."
Earlier on Monday, in an online live-chat, people shared their views of the stadium plan. The chat can be reviewed, as a replay, by clicking on the module below.