Saskatchewan

Brandt/CNIB building in Wascana Park moving forward with conditions

The Provincial Capital Commission board says it will allow CNIB and Brandt Developments to continue to move forward with their plans to construct a controversial office building in Wascana Park. 

Provincial Capital Commission says controversial project must do more public consultation

CNIB and Brandt have held a single public consultation event which was not widely advertised. The Provincial Capital Commission says future public consultations will have to rectify that. (Colliers International)

The Provincial Capital Commission board says it will allow CNIB and Brandt Developments to move forward with their plans to construct a controversial office building in Wascana Park — with conditions.

In a Friday morning news release, the PCC says the proponents will need to do more public consultation and will have to ensure the building follows Wascana Park's allowed uses rules. 

CNIB asked Brandt to replace its aging building in Wascana Park with a facility four times the size: 77,000 square feet. 

Brandt agreed to provide CNIB 4,000 square feet of office space rent and utilities for free. The company also said it would provide space to other charities as well. 

It planned to lease out the rest at market rates for a wide range of uses, from general office to retail. 

That sparked controversy because those plans seemed to fly in the face of Wascana Park rules, which say new developments must conform to the Wascana Centre Master Plan, and fall under the "five pillars" of education, recreation, culture, environment and the seat of government.

Members of the 'No Business in the Park' group hold signs outside the CNIB building. (Matthew Howard/CBC)

Critics said Brandt's plans didn't follow those rules and in March 2019, the government put the project on hold while the Provincial Auditor reviewed it. 

The auditor found that the PCC failed to document how the proposed building is consistent with the master plan governing the park — something it's required to do. 

She also said the PCC needed to do a better job of ensuring the public is consulted on new developments. 

The PCC says it has accepted the auditor's recommendations and has implemented many of them. 

Project must meet conditions

It says the CNIB project will be allowed to continue through the established process. The PCC says the project is on step 23 of a 38 step process. 

In order for the project to move forward, it will have to meet some key requirements. 

The CNIB building is on Broad Street in Regina directly south of the CBC building. (CNIB/Brandt presentation)

The PCC says CNIB will have to show "how all land-use would be compliant to the five pillars of the Wascana Centre Master Plan." 

In addition, the PCC says the project will have to undergo more thorough community consultation. 

So far, CNIB and Brandt have held a single public consultation event which was not widely advertised. That session focused on CNIB's use of the building but not the other potential tenants. 

The PCC says future public consultations will have to rectify that. 

"The proponent is also asked to conduct additional public communications and engagement to discuss the benefits of the project and engage regarding the land-use of the complete building rather than just the CNIB portion of the building." 

About the Author

Geoff Leo

Senior Investigative Journalist

Geoff Leo has been a reporter for CBC News in Saskatchewan since 2001. His work as an investigative journalist and documentary producer has earned numerous national and regional awards.

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