Regina council votes against mandating sprinklers in new residential builds

Regina city council has decided not to mandate automatic sprinklers in new residential builds.

The decisions came at Wednesday’s city council meeting and are a flip from last week’s executive committee when council voted in favour of the motion.

A total of 13 delegations spoke on the motion, with the majority speaking against it.

Mayor Sandra Masters said that she feels the reaction from home-builders swayed council.

“I that based upon the response from industries, specifically the homebuilders and those who are producing everything from affordable housing to our sub-division development, their reaction to a walk-on motion that had not been fully contemplated or fully thought out, the ramifications and implementation of that, hearing that information resulted in council having more information to consider.”

Chris Guérette, the CEO of the Saskatchewan Realtors Association, was one of the delegates to speak against the motion. She believes the mandate would have hurt affordability and the competitive edge for Regina and its residents.

“We can actually improve ourselves out of being competitive,” she said. “It doesn’t matter if we have great jobs in Regina, top-notch amenities, sports complexes and hospitals, and even great schools, if housing is out of reach if housing choice and price brackets our poor in diversity people will not move to Regina, and they will not stay. Most importantly, you create a competitive disadvantage.”

“People are more than willing to drive 30 minutes out of the City where the price difference, caused by regional disparities by regulations, will mean they will drive for a more affordable home,” she added.

Jo-Ann Gauthier, national field operations manager and western regional manager for the Canadian Automatic Sprinkler Association was in favour of the motion.

“Our position is to change the culture and change the conversation. Fire sprinklers buy time, and time buys life.”

Sean Tracey with the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition of Canada and a former deputy fire chief with the City of Ottawa was also in favour of the mandate.

“Smoke alarms work, yes, but only for those able-bodied individuals who are able to be alert, awake and be able to evacuate that home in a minute and a half,” he said. “Sprinklers save those lives.”

Council voted 9-1 against the motion with another motion to mandate that homebuilders offer sprinklers as an option in home designs also failed due to a tie.

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