Saskatchewan

City council approves street closure for police HQ expansion, Sobey's liquor store in Cathedral Neighbourhood

Regina city council approved the closure of a portion of Osler Street in Regina for the city police to redesign and expand its headquarters next door.

Regina city council also voted in favour of citywide ban on plastic bags at Wednesday meeting

The Regina Police Service owns the building formerly occupied by the Saskatchewan Transportation Service, pictured as it was in 2016. The police service wants to expand its headquarters and got council approval Wednesday to shut down a portion of Osler Street to do so. (SRC)

Regina's city council approved the closure of a portion of Osler Street in the city to accommodate the expansion and redesign of the Regina Police Service headquarters in a 10-1 vote at Wednesday's council meeting.

The police service is looking to expand its current HQ into the building that formerly housed the Saskatchewan Transportation Company, which is on an adjacent property on the 1700 block of Osler Street.

There is no timeline available for the completion of the project, as the design will undergo public consultation before finalization, tender and construction. Consultations could happen in June or July. 

"I think that the streetscape will be important to the area," said Coun. Barbara Young, who also sits on the board of police commissioners and the planning commission. 

"But the internal workings of a police department are not going to be out there for the public to make comments on."

The City of Regina purchased the 70,000-square-foot STC building from the Saskatchewan government for slightly more than $16 million in 2018.

A city report said the impact of the closure would be minimal in terms of parking and traffic, as the police service owns both properties on the north end of the block. Parking on that portion of Osler Street is generally used for the public looking to obtain police services.

Costs for the expansion will be included in the police budget and any unforeseen costs will go before city council for consideration, according to Diane Hawryluk, executive director of city planning. The city had previously reported upgrades would cost about $21 million.

Procurement and construction will begin after a design had been finalized and a tender issued. The actual construction could last up to two years, said Fred Searle, manager of current planning for the city.

Coun. Andrew Stevens was the lone dissenting vote on the closure.

Sobey's liquor approved on 13th Ave.

City council also approved an application to build a Sobey's liquor outlet on the corner of Retallack Street and 13th Avenue at Wednesday's meeting. The vote also passed 10-1, with Stevens as the lone dissenting vote. 

Joanne Havelock, a neighbourhood resident, said opposition to the project was because there are existing liquor stores in the nearby area. An alcohol offsale is located blocks away on Albert Street as well.

Ron Holowatuk, with Hardrock Developments, said the project was 6,000 square feet at the beginning of planning, but has since been reduced to fit within the neighbourhood and the Cathedral neighbourhood plan.

The lot had been the site of multiple buildings but they were destroyed in a fire decades ago. The site was never redeveloped.

Stevens asked whether or not another sort of business could open up on that particular plot of land. Holowatuk, a commercial developer, said Sobey's has a proven track record and the assets to get the project done.

"I think the economics, in terms of the rent required, make it unviable for most," Holowatuk replied.

According to data obtained by city council from the Regina Police Service, calls related to liquor stores such as the offsale outlet were most commonly associated with unwanted guests or intoxicated persons.

Coun. Stevens asked if that was an indication of increased crime in areas where liquor retailers operate, but city administration was unable to draw any conclusion. 

Plastic bag ban

Council also voted unanimously in favour of passing a ban on plastic bags in the city of Regina at Wednesday's meeting.

The ban is not immediate. The city is allowing time for public to obtain information and for education before proceeding. Enforcement could begin in about a year.

Plastic bags are a common form of litter in the city, said Coun. Lori Bresciani, and pose a risk to wildlife.

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