Exciting Downtown News!

Took this photo today on 17 block Hamilton Street. That grass field in the background? A building used to stand there that provided affordable downtown rental accommodation for 40 plus individuals and families.

As Paul Dechene blogged about last April, City Council claimed its hands were tied when the owner applied for a demolition permit. Now, the owner has apparently applied for a permit to operate a surface parking lot on the site to help ease the desperate shortage of space in the downtown for people to house their two or three tonnes of metal, glass and plastic (ie motor vehicles) when they’re not using them.

I’m not sure what the legal status of the Downtown Neighbourhood Plan is. But for the last few years developers have supposedly been adhering to its recommendations on how to create a pedestrian-friendly and vibrant downtown. Surface parking lots were not exactly seen as desirable in that regard so council’s hands presumably won’t be as tied when it comes time to review this “development” application. I guess we’ll see.

Author: Gregory Beatty

Greg Beatty is a crime-fighting shapeshifter who hatched from a mutagenic egg many decades ago. He likes sunny days, puppies and antique shoes. His favourite colour is not visible to your puny human eyes. He refuses to write a bio for this website and if that means Whitworth writes one for him, so be it.

20 thoughts on “Exciting Downtown News!”

  1. Looks like a great place for a stadium. If you liked it then you shoulda put a roof on it. I love nature – within minutes of that building’s demo, the weeds and grasses were 5 feet high.

    @2 No shortage of “chances” to #Occupy. Plus it’s cold, and I’d prefer not to wake up in an insane asylum.

  2. That would be a Stoopid place to put a community garden. Cannibus doesn’t care about smog, it’ll grow.

    Google: Elections B.C. agrees to Marijuana decrimininalization referendum,or something like that.

    Paul look,.. typing.. lol

  3. @Tyler – The temporary parking lot is just what they’ll do with it until they figure out how to build a multi-level parking lot. There has been talk about that being developed as a parking arcade since before those tenants were evicted. This city can’t seem to get enough parking, yet everywhere you look there’s a parking lot. It’s like a mass psychosis.

  4. @Vanda – YES!!! I’ve never seen anything like it anywhere. It’s like parking. we don’t have enough parking. we need more parking. what about parking. seriously, there is more parking in the city centre than anywhere else I’ve been. One of the problems with downtown Regina is that there is too much parking (specifically crappy gravel surface parking lots)and people here seem to think the problem with downtown is that there isn’t enough parking. It’s like some weird throwback to the 50’s or some sort of mass insanity ala Rob Ford.

  5. I vote for urban oasis. Let the real estate value of that plot go to waste. A nice park for the kids and office workers, between drives to and fro.

  6. That is so sick! But….will the ‘City’ approve? Thought new downtown surface lots not allowed. Also, drove past the old Plains site today, I mean the Capital Point site. There was a big dump truck doing something..(cleaning weeds, preparing parking stalls, or….) maybe preparing to actually build something? That corner is such an eye-sore! Hope something constructive will happen soon.

  7. Tyler S – The dude was in such a rush to demolish the building that he, uh, didn’t have a plan for something to put in there besides a parking lot? It’s like quitting your job and not having another job lined up and just saying “I’ll coast for a little bit” and you don’t have any savings and God that’s just the worst

  8. Mabye the monopoly of Impark, impedes downtown development too? If parking is a problem, build a new parkade 12 stories high, & 3 levels below the suface. F..k, somebody in charge, ( oh right, in a month I’m going to vote you gone),…just resolve this 20 yr old issue.

  9. The Downtown Neighbourhood Plan was approved by Council in July and sent to the province for final approval, not sure if approved at provincial level yet. According to my notes of the July 23 Council meeting, delays were because of implications of the report, staff changeover, and legal wording. However also stated at the meeting was that the purpose of the plan is to attract business as well as residential (2-5,000 people to live downtown). I am reviewing the 2009 plan and it also states must build according to scale and height of neighbouring buildings or setback. My question would be, how long is temporary for the parking lot? I don’t know the details, but if the owner is looking for investors and that may take time, then there should be a timeline on “temporary” since we have a housing crisis–which means “need housing now”. When I was at a housing forum in April, I heard the plan for that lot was to have the first 3 floors as parking and the upper 9 for apartment rental. According to Downtown Neighbourhood Plan, the owner is encouraged to have mixed use with commercial use on main, office use, and residential. I think parking may be included, but not a temporary parking lot for the next 3 to 5 years.

  10. Love this, Greg.

    The fact that most of these parking spaces are empty at night, and that we dont have significant evening downtown population means that we haven’t really made much progress in revitalizing downtown.
    What’s remarkable is how little of the empty talk has turned into practice.

  11. Hey gang! Don’t know if anyone is still checking this thread but I got some answers from the city. Check my story:

    http://cjme.com/story/new-temporary-parking-lot-possible-downtown-regina/76714

    If you’d rather not give CJME the clicks here’s the gist: the lot would be re-zoned as a “special contract zone” for the span of three years. That’s all the city would allow for a “temporary” lot. Since the 2009 downtown plan, recently adopted as bylaw, encourages the eventual elimination of surface parking it’s unlikely that zoning would be reviewed after that time frame was up (though it would be up to the discretion of either a zoning review staffer or probably council again).

    Keep in mind that’s IF it passes. For that to happen not only would city staff have to recommend it happen but planning commission and City Council itself would also have to sign off on it. The optics of that would be terrible, I’m sure, should the city not choose to show its commitment to downtown renewal in perhaps the simplest possible way. But I’ve been surprised before.

  12. Thanks for this Pat.

    But. (And I’m arguing with Fred Serle not you.) The whole point* of having rules against surface parking is to provide a disincentive to wanton demolitions of heritage-worthy buildings and housing.

    Allowing 3-year grace periods for temporary lots removes that.

    One thing I’ve heard is there is this perception among a “certain generation”** of land owners that you can sell downtown property for more money if it doesn’t have a building on it.

    So, with city admin saying they’re willing to OK the demolition of a building and then allow the owner to offset the carrying cost of the land by having parking on it for three years while that owner finds a buyer, well… our city admin is setting a very destructive precedent.

    It waters down the Downtown Plan.

    Also… hasn’t council passed a moratorium on surface parking downtown? Or made a commitment to never approve it? Or something like that?

    ————————
    Footnotes:
    * Well, not the whole reason. But a big reason.
    ** That’s me being ageist! Although I reserve those “certain generation” remarks specifically for old white men. So I guess I’m being ageist, sexist and racist! Or maybe I just have father issues.

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