'Why aren't they investing in that stretch?': City councillor asks for report on Broad Street
Coun. Andrew Stevens asks how city can better support development
Broad Street is a main artery that runs through the heart of the Queen City.
Ward 3 city councillor Andrew Stevens says the stretch of the street from 15th Avenue to Saskatchewan Drive should be a bustling hub, but it is not.
Parking lots dot that section of the Regina street. Two iconic buildings — Lang's Cafe and the Travellers Building — have been ravaged by fire within the last two years. Buildings sit abandoned or empty.
Stevens said that stretch of road is an eyesore.
"I think one of the biggest problems is, it's just been accepted for decades that this is what happens," he said.
He submitted a series of questions to City administration about that section of Broad. These questions will generate a report that the public can see when it's finished.
"I specifically am looking for the challenges and obstacles facing developers. Why aren't they investing in that stretch?" Stevens said.
"How do we get out of the parking lot business and back into the commercial and residential revitalization business?"
Should the city decide to take other steps after the report, one of the challenges it could face is convincing current land owners to develop or sell their property.
"[Some of the developers] live in Edmonton or Calgary and they are sitting on a vacant piece of property, they are sitting on an abandoned home," he said.
"That's unacceptable. I think it's a blight. They're literally drawing wealth from our community and investing nothing in there."
Stevens also said he knows the solution will be a a long-term process but that it is important to start something now. He said some possible steps the city could take are to look at how they tax parking lots or vacant lots.
A 'shrinking pot'
Stevens isn't alone in his fight for downtown revitalization. It's also part of The Regina Downtown Business Improvement District's (RDBID) mandate.
Judith Veresuk, the organization's executive director, said that stretch of road is on their radar.
"It is challenging to see the blight and the vandalism that has cropped up over the past few years," Veresuk said.
She pointed to the Travellers Building as an example of poor landowner upkeep. She said bylaw officers were talking with the owners to try and get them to secure the building so animals and people couldn't take up residence there. That didn't happen. She said there were a lot of pigeons in that building by the time it burned down.
Veresuk said she knows the city is in a tough spot.
"I think the challenge the city has is that they have a lot of different interests, a lot of different interest groups all clamouring for a shrinking pot of resources, whether it's money or time," she said.