Regina meals financial institution growth, deal to help Cowessess First Nation well being centre move metropolis council

Wednesday’s Regina city council meeting flew by as a number of items received unanimous support with very little discussion.

Among them, council approved a deal with the Regina Food Bank that will help the organization clear a hurdle in its efforts to create a community food hub in the city’s downtown. 

Under the deal, the food bank has been granted a decade-long lease for 1720 12th Ave. — a vacant lot just off Broad Street — for $1 per year.

The community food hub will operate out of a former SLGA store at 1881 Broad St., beside the empty lot.

The 12th Avenue land is behind the former liquor store, which would allow the food bank to run a food hamper drive-thru and build “raised greenscaping to facilitate community renewal.”

The community food hub will function more like a grocery store and community centre, rather than a traditional food bank, according to a letter the food bank sent to the city.

The lot on 12th Avenue has sat empty since it was acquired by the City of Regina in 1999 due to the presence of unspecified environmental contamination. 

That environmental contamination is why the food bank is required to lease the space rather than purchase it outright. 

Part of the lease will require the lot to be paved in order to avoid exposure to the lot’s contaminated subsurface soils, a report given to council says.

The food bank is also seeking a tax exemptions for both properties and a one-time payment of $200,000 to fund the initiative, but those requests will be decided on at a later date. 

First Nation to create urban Indigenous health centre

On Wednesday, council also approved an agreement to sell a strip of property to Cowessess First Nation, so it can proceed with plans to build an urban health centre.

The land runs through a back lane between Sixth and Seventh avenues, near Albert Street. 

The First Nation already owns the surrounding land, but the City of Regina owns the strip that runs through the middle of the lane.

That will now change, with council approving a deal to sell the lane for $1 to Cowessess First Nation.

The First Nation is in the final stages of building an urban Indigenous health centre.

It will be open to Indigenous and non-Indigenous people, but incorporate an Indigenous worldview when providing primary and secondary care.

The city is selling the plot of land below fair market value, but administration says the sale would support First Nation economic development — one of the 94 calls to action that came from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that the city has committed to — and other potential benefits to the community, according to a report. 

Council lowers developer charges

City council also approved a cut to its planned hike on developer fees, as recommended by city staff.

Staff and industry stakeholders raised concerns about assumptions made regarding city growth in a model that sets developer fees. 

Those fees — which include servicing agreement fees and development levies — are used to fund major infrastructure required to support growth, a report prepared for council’s Wednesday meeting says.

Currently, the fees are set at $297,000 per hectare for residential and commercial developers, and $99,000 per hectare for industrial developers.

The proposed hike to would have resulted in a scheduled greenfield residential and commercial developer rate of $632,000 per hectare in 2023 and $210,670 per hectare for industrial developers.

Such rates would discourage companies looking to build in Regina’s greenfield — or new suburban areas — according to the city staff report.

As a result, city council voted on Wednesday to approve a recommendation from city administration that would set greenfield residential and commercial developer rates to $319,000 per hectare, and industrial rates to $106,000 per hectare.

Lowering the developer charges for 2023 is intended to be a stop-gap measure so the city can investigate the issues with its model. 

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