Commission set to hear proposal for long-term runway expansion at Regina International Airport
Airport authority says expansion is years away, but planning must begin now
The Regina planning commission is set to debate amending the official community plan to allow the Regina International Airport to expand its runway.
The changes to the OPC would mean the city would consult with the airport authority for any development close to it, and replace existing maps with updated ones. However, the authority says people shouldn't be concerned about immediate expansion.
"I need to be abundantly clear, there is no expansion plan today. There's no expansion planned for next year, but there certainly may be in the next couple of decades," said James Bogusz, CEO of the Regina Airport Authority.
"If that time comes and we don't have the space to build an expansion … that extension could never be built and that would be very detrimental for the long-term viability of our community and the ability to attract air service from various parts of the globe," he said.
The city report agrees, saying the two maps and OCP text changes would ensure the airport's future growth is protected and addressed as developments come forward.
"Now, even though in the short term, our airport, obviously we've had a big downturn … we're going to bounce back in the future."
"As you start looking long term and when I mean long term, we're talking 10, 15 could be 20 years or more out. We have to make sure that the lands adjacent to the airport or nearby the airport are developed in a compatible way."
It's important the airport's noise and building height be accounted for in developments, Bogusz says, adding that's why this needs to be talked about now, even during the pandemic.The airport is currently focusing on the pandemic recovery and paying down its debt, so it will be some time before it expands.
NAV Canada doing a service review of Regina and six other airports to look at whether it is necessary to keep the control tower. In February, air-traffic controllers at Regina International Airport were given layoff notices.
The review was supposed to continue until spring and then be given to Transport Canada. The airport authority and the mayor have been calling for the layoff notices to be reversed.
Bogusz says he would like to believe that an approval from the city for future expansion would affect the review. However, this isn't a new plan, Bogusz says. There are plans for long-term expansion on their website.
"We've made NAV Canada more than aware that the capital city is growing, the province is growing. And the fact that this is even up for discussion is absolutely — I'll use the word ridiculous," Bogusz said.
Bogusz says they've asked NAV Canada numerous times to halt the review, and asked the minister of transport to step in.
"NAV Canada, unfortunately, has a very narrow scope. What they're looking at, they see this as a safety review, only they're not taking into consideration future growth, future viability of growing province, the capital city status. None of this seems to matter," he said. "And we don't agree with that at all."
Renaming Dewdney Park on agenda
The planning commission is also set to discuss the renaming of Dewdney Park. City council unanimously approved the renaming of Dewdney Pool — in the park — last week.
In past reports from the city administration, it said Edgar Dewdney was a historical figure who was "directly responsible for the development and administration of harmful policies toward Indigenous peoples," including establishing and overseeing residential schools.
In July 2020, the group Decolonizing Relations submitted a petition requesting the pool, park and Dewdney Avenue be renamed. The city is currently creating a legacy process to review the avenue name.
If it gets final approval on Wednesday, the park would be renamed Buffalo Meadows Park,a name approved by the North Central Community Association and Central Zone board. The city would then work with local groups and a local elder to hold a ceremony in spring 2021.
In another development, the executive committee is set hear about the first part of planning for a replacement facility for the Brandt Centre.
The report — called Brandt Centre 2.0 — is the first phase in strategizing for the future of the Brandt Centre. Councillors will get feedback from local residents and, if they decide the planning can continue, an economic impact assessment will at sites and funding.
The cost of replacing the facility exactly is estimated at $78.4 million. City administration says in the report it would cost an estimated $100 million to build a new, multi-purpose event centre to "meet the needs" of Regina for the next 50 years.
The Brandt Centre, a 43-year old multi-use facility, is home to the Regina Pats Hockey Club and hosts numerous sporting and cultural events and concerts.
The committee will also debate supporting the 2022 Saskatchewan Winter Games with an in-kind donation of facility rentals, valued up to $50,000. The 2021 Saskatchewan Winter Games were cancelled in advance due to the coronavirus pandemic.