Wascana Centre, commonly known as the ‘Jewel of Regina,’ is one of the largest urban parks in North America. The public facilities located within its boundaries include the University of Regina, the Science Centre, Centre of the Arts, Darke Hall, and the Mackenzie Art Gallery. The Park also encompasses the Legislative Building, Wascana Lake, and lots of parkland.
The Wascana Centre Act, the 1978 legislation concerning the purpose and mandate of the Park, clearly intended that there would never be commercial development in the Park.
Now, as a result of some crafty maneuvering, the Park may soon have a bank within its boundaries: Conexus Credit Union.
We must not let this happen. Wascana Park is a public park. Let’s ensure it is never open to business.
NO BUSINESS IN THE PARK!
THE CONEXUS DEAL
The deal-makers are the University of Regina, Conexus Credit Union, the City of Regina, and Wascana Centre Authority (WCA).
JUNE 2016: U of R president Timmons announced a donation of $8.25 million from Conexus to the U of R’s College Avenue renewal project, to be used to restore the old College buildings.
In return, Conexus got a 90-year, rent-free lease on 2.6 acres of land in Wascana Park, adjacent to Darke Hall, on which to construct an 80,000 square foot head office.
AUGUST 2016: Regina City Council approved the transfer of 2.6 acres of city-owned land in Wascana Park, adjacent to Darke Hall, to the University of Regina “for development purposes.”
DECEMBER 2016: WCA approved the development of the Conexus head office in Wascana Park.
A SHADY DEAL
- The Conexus “donation” clearly has strings attached. Is dona-tion the right word for this exchange of money for land-use?
- In voting for the Conexus deal, City Council violated its own Official Community Plan, which stipulates that any new significant office buildings must be built downtown.
- Mayor Michael Fougere and two City Councillors are members of the WCA board. In both capacities, they voted for the Conexus deal.
A DONE DEAL
Although Wascana Park is a public resource paid for by the public, the public was left out of the decision-making process.
Yes, public forums were held in June, but they were mere window dressing. The Conexus deal was already a done deal.
- In March 2016, WCA approved an update to its master plan to allow for “corporate partnerships.”
- As part of the Conexus deal, in the name of heritage restoration, the Conservatory and the original Mackenzie Art Gallery were demolished. The demolition permits for these buildings were sought a day before the first public forum.
- According to Mayor Fougere, $8.25 million was too good to pass up. What about the next corporation that wants a building in the Park and offers $8.5 million? Will we soon have a McDonald’s drive-thru in the Park or a Walmart?
- The U or R administration has acknowledged that discussions have taken place concerning a presumably for-profit seniors’ residence in the Park.
- Brandt Industries is already working on a plan to construct a large commercial office building to replace the Canadian National Institute for the Blind building on the east side of the Park. CNIB will be a tenant in the Brandt building.
DO THE RIGHT THING
Wascana Park was founded to serve the public good. The appropriation of Park space for private benefit is detrimental to all of us who live in Regina.
It’s not too late for Conexus to do the right thing: make a genuine donation to the restoration of the College buildings and build its head office outside the Park. The City of Regina could assist Conexus in finding an appropriate location in the downtown area.
- If you have a Conexus account, ask to see the manager of your your branch and let her/him know you do not want Conexus in Wascana Park. Email the same message to the CEO of Conexus: email@example.com
- Let University of Regina president, Vianne Timmons, know you are not happy with the deal the University made with Conexus and suggest alternatives: 306-585-4696 or firstname.lastname@example.org
- Contact the Chief Executive Officer of Wascana Centre Authority, Bernadette McIntyre, and let her know you do not want any businesses in Wascana Park: 306-347-1846 or McIntyre@wascana.sk.ca
- Send the same message to Mayor Michael Fougere: 307-777-7339 or email@example.com
- Find out more about the campaign to stop Conexus from building in the Park. Visit the No Business in the Park facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/keepwascanaparkpublic/
- If you would like to participate in the campaign, email