City council passes motions for U-Haul facility, Ring Road rail crossing

There was lots to discuss at Monday night’s Regina City Council meeting.

Among the topics on the agenda were a tax exemption for the Regina International Airport, the development of a tourism winter strategy, and even some discussion on whether councillors should be required to sit or stand when speaking at meetings.

However two of the larger items covered on Monday involved the future of the Sears Outlet building and a plan to potentially move rail lines crossing Ring Road to another part of the city.

Self-storage replacing Centennial Market

Regina City Council passed a motion that will affect the 200 vendors of the Centennial Market which is currently located at the former Sears Outlet location.

The market will have to find a new home in the future after council agreed to allow U-Haul International to redevelop the space into a public self-storage facility. The company, which has been a tenant in the mall since last fall, applied for discretionary use of the building.

During the meeting, it was indicated the revenue being generated from the market is not enough to support the structure. Council felt it was the right choice to have a company like U-Haul to expand at the location since they have intentions of upgrading the building and investing in the community.

Mayor Michael Fougere suggested this is the best business model to help sustain the building.

“I think everyone loses if that building is vacated and demolished, so it was a time to find a way where we all win,” said Fougere. “We have a new tenant that comes in, creates many jobs for downtown, and we also have a new location for the vendors who maybe find a better location that’s more substantial for them.”

Delegations were presented by Colliers International, who are working with U-Haul on the purchase of the space, along with the Regina Warehouse Business Improvement District and the Regina and District Chamber of Commerce.

All of the delegates voiced their support for the decision to convert the location into a new storage facility. In addition, they mentioned their interest in helping the market find a new space when the time comes.

“To find a new location for the tenants I think speaks to the community involvement of this project,” said the mayor.

U-Haul has stated they need to work on their plans for their new spot before they begin the transition phase, meaning the Centennial Market will be able to stay at the location for at least a year before U-Haul’s expansion would affect vendors.

City exploring rail line relocation

Less accidents and less time on a busy part of Ring Road is what Regina City Council is wanting to deliver with their potential plan to move railway tracks between Winnipeg Street and McDonald Street.

The project would involve moving the rail line, which currently crosses Ring Road and creates traffic delays, to the far end of the city.

More specifically, city council is looking at a design which would see the railway tracks be relocated north of Regina.

Councillors voted on Monday to begin taking the next steps in making this project a reality. The city estimates the project will cost $107 million and could take eight years to complete.

Fougere said there’s still lots of talks and planning ahead before they can start seeking funding opportunities for this venture.

Now that the motion has been passed, council and administration will have to secure co-operation from CN Railway and CP Rail by way of a Memorandum of Understanding or Letter of Intent to see if this design is possible.

Funding will be another avenue for the city to explore.

During the meeting, council didn’t seem confident that CP and CN would be interested in helping out financially with this proposal. So funding support may have to be from the federal and provincial governments, along with other financial partners.

“Whether it comes from CN or CP, it’s not a deal breaker,” explained Fougere. “Talks have taken place in general terms with a consultant with the federal government, which will authorize administration to have a more detailed discussion with possible sources.”

Mayor Fougere added as they develop the proposal for this mammoth move, the cost will be refined as well. He said the $107 million estimate may change since it’s a “soft number” that could be 50 per cent less or 30 per cent more.

Administration will bring a financing plan forward to city council for consideration to fund the preliminary design through the 2020 budget process.

Council aims to have the relocation started by next year.

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