Saskatchewan

Regina may try to dip into federal transit infrastructure funding to cover cost of new aquatic centre

The new aquatic centre has been identified as the top priority in the city’s recreational master plan, which was approved by council in 2019.

About $128 million earmarked for city in Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program

Regina is looking to secure funding for the construction of a new aquatics facility that would replace the aging Lawson Aquatic Centre. (CBC)

Regina's executive committee has signed off on a plan to try to dip into federal infrastructure funding to help cover the costs of a new indoor aquatic centre.

There is about $128 million earmarked for the city in the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program (ICIP). However, that money is supposed to be spent on transit infrastructure.

On Wednesday, Regina's executive committee approved a proposal that could see the money used on the indoor aquatic centre instead. A report that went to the city's executive committee says the provincial government has indicated there could be flexibility on the funding switch.

City council will still need to approve the proposal at its meeting on June 1 before looking to the provincial and federal governments to sign off on the plan. 

On Wednesday, city administration said the provincial government is "driving" the tight timeline on this topic. 

Administration only received a request from the province earlier this month to submit a list of projects that it wants to use ICIP funding on. 

If the funding transfer to help build the new aquatic centre isn't approved, then administration has listed three other potential projects to use the money on. They include a $90-million wastewater capacity upgrade, Renewable Regina facility upgrades at a cost of $14 million, and a $24-million proposal to enhance pedestrian connectivity and transit enhancements. 

The city says four other projects totalling $198.5 million have already been approved for ICIP funding. They include the renewal of the Buffalo Pound Regional Water Treatment Plant, improvements to the Globe Theatre, shields for drivers of the city's Transit Busses and the YWCA Healing Lodge. 

The new aquatic centre has been identified as the top priority in the city's recreational master plan, which was approved by council in 2019. 

It's widely viewed as a replacement for the aging Lawson Aquatic Centre in the city's downtown, and is meant to respond to the city's growing population and a need for community access to indoor year-round aquatic programming, according to the report. 

At the end of 2021, Mayor Sandra Masters told CBC News she remained committed to creating the new aquatic facility in Regina. 

It was a key plank of her campaign for mayor, although it came with the caveat of an estimated $85 million price tag and the likely closure of the aging Lawson Aquatic Centre.

A feasibility study on the new aquatic facility is still due to appear in front of Regina City Council sometime this summer.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Alexander Quon is a reporter with CBC Saskatchewan based in Regina. After working in Atlantic Canada for four years he's happy to be back in his home province. He has previously worked with the CBC News investigative unit in Nova Scotia and Global News in Halifax. Alexander specializes in data-reporting, COVID-19 and municipal political coverage. He can be reached at: Alexander.Quon@cbc.ca.

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