Days before the Regina municipal election, Mayor Michael Fougere has declared his opposition of the Cook residence being redeveloped to condos. He is also challenging other mayoral candidates to state their position on the property’s future.
The current owner of the heritage property located on the corner of Albert Street and Hill Avenue, Carmen Lien, hopes to redevelop the property to a 16-unit condo building. An application has been sent to the city by Lien to rezone the piece of land to a multi-family residential property.
Residents and groups such as Heritage Regina have opposed the owner’s intentions to build the condos in place of the historic home.
Fougere said during his door knocking and speaking to voters on the campaign trail, he has heard residents in the area voice their concerns about the situation.
“They are concerned about the unique heritage nature of the neighbourhood,” he explained. “They are also concerned that if this happens in one location, it could be the beginning of a domino effect across the community and there will be a problem here.”
In his opinion, Fougere believes it’s important to preserve the unique character of the neighbourhood.
“There is a lot of heritage properties here, different kinds of homes that you don’t find in other parts of the city,” discussed Fougere. “I am supporting leaving this as a heritage property and I would like to hear what other mayoral candidates have to say about this as well.”
City council will have the final say on the Cook residence’s fate with a decision expected early next year.
“Lack of leadership has created this situation”
A couple hours after Fougere’s announcement, mayoral nominee Sandra Masters responded to his call by saying the situation “never should have gotten to this point.”
Masters reconfirmed her stance that the Cook residence is not an appropriate site for new condos. She added that she supports the preservation of the house as a heritage building, and she does not support the proposal of constructing the apartment-style building attached to the existing home.
She also questioned Fougere’s leadership and how it has resulted in a complex dispute.
“It’s unfortunate that it has lingered and gotten as far as it has,” stated Masters in a media release.
“An issue like this is very divisive in our community and pits residents against each other. Michael Fougere should have stepped in and provided the necessary leadership when it became clear this was going to be a problem.”
Masters continued by saying the city has not managed heritage properties “very well” and there is a lack of support for properties that suffer maintenance and structural issues.
“Specific to this issue with heritage being so important to the community, we need to identify the true heritage assets and figure out a way to ensure they are safeguarded and do not fall into disrepair,” mentioned Masters in her statement.
Masters pointed to her goal of reaching 15 per cent efficiencies if elected mayor, something she feels could have aided in this case with clear guidelines and process.