Kiss Historic Downtown Regina Goodbye

Remember this? The plan for a new downtown library/hotel complex that was accidentally leaked to the internet?

And remember how upset everybody got — everybody, including Regina’s Masons — because this plan so blithely includes the demolition of the historic masonic temple?

And remember how the library board assured us this isn’t a final plan? And that if the masons aren’t interested in having their building bulldozed, the RPL board will go back to the drawing board?

Well, apparently, going back to the drawing board means formally (as opposed to notionally) negotiating with the masons for the sale of their temple, presumably so they’ll be free to tear it down/move it/incorporate it, Borglike, into the library building.

That the RPL is in active negotiations to buy the mason land was revealed at the RPL board meeting last night (which I didn’t attend but received this info from someone who did). And I find that pretty funny because I just interviewed RPL board chair, Darlene Hincks-Joehnck, a few weeks ago and asked her specifically if there was anything to report on the downtown branch. And she assured me that absolutely nothing was decided and there was nothing to report at this time.

Call me crazy but, considering all that went on in the summer, I’d say negotiating to buy the mason land is pretty damn newsworthy.

And what do you want to bet that the architectural plans that will be formally proposed once that sale is finalized will look suspiciously like the one above?

So, considering there are also plans afoot to tear down the Gordon Block and with our recently-opened downtown plaza looking like it was designed to accent the architectural character of a Soviet housing project, it makes me wonder, doesn’t anyone give a shit about the Victoria Park Heritage Conservation District?

That bylaw is supposed to protect the heritage character of our downtown; and, buildings like the Gordon Block, the masonic temple and the current library building are specifically protected from demolition or extensive alteration. (Everyone keeps saying they’re not actual heritage buildings. True. But under the provincial Heritage Act, buildings in a conservation district have the same protections from demolition as a heritage building.) And yet, this doesn’t seem to deter anyone from planning to bulldoze the downtown to put up whateverthefuck.

And, on the library front, we’ve been repeatedly told that the redesign of the downtown branch will be done in an open manner and involve lots of public consultation.

Well, as far as I can tell, this has so far been conducted in a very closed manner involving very little public consultation and I’m this: |<—->| close to formally (as opposed to notionally) calling bullshit on the RPL board’s claims that this will improve.

Incidentally, for those who’re interested, Shane, Aidan and I discussed the library redesign summer schlmozzle in some detail on the p-dog podcast back in June. It includes several audio clips of RPL board chair, Darlene Hincks-Joehnck, at a post-council scrum discussing the project. Have a listen here.

And, confidential to Whitworth: you should not construe my writing of this post as evidence that I’m back in Regina.

Author: Paul Dechene

Paul Dechene is 5'10'' tall and he was born in a place. He's not there now. He's sitting in front of his computer writing his bio for this blog. He has a song stuck in his head. It's "Girl From Ipanema", thanks for asking. You can follow Paul on Twitter at @pauldechene and get live updates during city council meetings and other city events at @PDcityhall.

84 thoughts on “Kiss Historic Downtown Regina Goodbye”

  1. Is that where Globe Theatre was supposed to go, as well? Or am I thinking of another building?

  2. Yeah. That’s what it sounded like at council back in June when the head of the Globe said they were in negotiations to become part of the RPL’s downtown cultural facility.

    I’m not entirely clear where that stands right now. Greg is better informed on that, I think.

  3. Masons and Masonic Temple should be spelled with capitals (and preferably not capitalized in the way that may be happening right now).

    Statements of Significance were prepared by external reviewers last year for all the buildings surrounding the park. Would you believe, Chief, that the civic heritage committee has its head in the sand?

  4. In addition to the ongoing fuck-ups with planning a new Central library, RPL staff have been without a contract for over two years even though the library is posting huge surpluses. Visit: http://www.check-us-out.net for the story from the inside without RPL board and management lies.

    How long has Ms. Joenik been on the RPL board? In fact, when did the board last get a new member? Maybe it’s time for changes on the board? Or maybe for the top managers at RPL who are burying the library in the ground to go?

  5. I spoke to someone from the Globe Theatre in early September, and they said that they had hired a consultant to assess the theatre’s future development in light of the fact that the Globe is bursting at the seams at its current location. This is what they said:

    “The consultants gave us two options. One is stay in our current location at our present size, or even decrease our programming, or to have a long-term plan to get into a new building. So that’s what we’ve been doing. We’ve had lots of talks with city council, and lots of media coverage, and one option that’s being considered is a partnership with Regina Public Library in a new cultural centre. We’ve tentatively agreed to that idea, but nothing’s come of it yet. It’s just an idea that’s been put out there. It would be a perfect opportunity for both of us.”

  6. The present Library Board is the Mayor’s, handpicked, and by golly, they’re still unpopular. Smiling broadly, me.

  7. If they incorporate the old buildings with the new iam fine with it as they are right now there not serving much of a purpose

  8. Barb, we’ll never get you elected mayor if you insist on being smug. It doesn’t play well in the ‘burbs, and we’re going to need those votes. Oh, why can’t you co-operate for a change?

  9. Nick, “schadenfreude” is not the same thing as “smug[ness]”. By the way, I live in the “‘burbs”, so-called, and believe me, they have a sense of humour. The Cathedral area is another story, however; I haven’t a hope in hell there.

  10. Schadenfreude?!
    That’s even worse than smugness!!
    As campaign slogans go, I can’t see us winning with “Pleasure derived from the misfortune of others.”
    Not even if these others happen to live in Cathedral.
    Sorry to be so blunt, but I AM your adviser after all.

  11. It is, yes, but Whitworth said I could have it in lieu of a cash contribution. The prairie dog is strapped for cash, but there is no shortage of slogans.

  12. Whitworth also offered a full-page ad endorsing the campaign. Given the magazine’s propensity for typos, however, I declined on your behalf. Too risky. “VOTE SAYLOR FOR MAYLOR” could have negative repercussions.

  13. You guys worry too much. Our FIASCO FOR REGINA typo didn’t hurt the mayor’s re-election bid in ’09.

    And, for the record, I would totally vote Saylor for maylor.

  14. Thanks, Paul. Your support means a great deal to us. Especially at this early stage in the campaign.

  15. By the way, I kissed historic Regina goodbye around 1992. Many kissed it good bye between 1965-82.

  16. It’s funny to think that, in 40 years time, they’ll be people fighting to save the historic light-sabers of the downtown plaza.

  17. Re: #9
    I don’t know what the Globe’s plans are at present. I believe they still have an active lawsuit against their landlord though concerning a leaky roof and clock tower at Old City Hall Mall. That building is part of the Victoria Park Heritage Conservation District too.

  18. It would be nice to see the Globe in a new facility, maybe on one of the levels of the domed stadium.

  19. As her campaign manager, let me assure you, when Barb Saylor is mayor, we will HAVE our new stadium, even if it means tearing down the 13th Avenue Safeway. (It’s going to be called the Bob Boyer Bowl, but you didn’t get that from me, prairie dog.)

  20. “When we lose our ability to laugh, we lose our ability to think rationally.”
    — Nietzsche

  21. GET with the times paul how many people even notice the temple , the new complex will be unbelievable, iam sure you will be there when its built

  22. I remember when the Temple was home to the Regina Jazz Society, but that was a few years ago now.

  23. One of our “anonymous” friends has curious trouble with basic literacy: “paul your out of touch”, “iam fine with it as they are right now there not serving much of a purpose”, “iam sure you will be there when its built”, “this is what this city need the future”.

    I have little esteem for city planning advice from someone who can’t spell.

  24. #20 the proper Engish would read as: being smug, as in “I am being smug about”…, or they are just being smug about / towards …

    In my day , it referred to a person just being snotty / uppity / calling you a peon type of shit , just because you weren’t in the same social / monetary bracket.
    Egotistical bastards sums it up.

    Ex: Ron Lancaster jr., was quite smug, to other guys that went to Campbell,if they weren’t on the fball team, weren’t into sports or weren’t,RLjr.

  25. #19 Their purpose is to make people look at how much human skill has been put into creating a structure, and mabye to think about how much of a lost art that it is, needs a serious revival.

    I participated into the Revenue building ( Smith St & 12th ), reno about 7yrs. ago.

    The heritage guidelines then, made us install the marble slabs, just as originally as possible.

    Other than the power drills / wet-saws we used, everything else was done old school.

    Go into the foyer, look at the stairs.
    Most of them are original pieces.

    The marble on the walls are all 1st gen.

    HNY

  26. #22
    I do too.
    I’d just rather the project buy up that fugly tin covered Fed bldg on Smith st, and leave the Mason temple alone.

    I’m not a Mason, but it is a Heritage building..

    Yes the fed’s just reno’d that POS, but it’s an fugly fed bldg….. who cares A library that could wrap around 12ave South on Smith, and mabye, eventually connect to the city hall.

  27. #36
    I went 1985-2003.

    Man I was so pisssed when I 1st went Dt and the Capitol Theatre was gone!

    Then I found out that the Cornhole Mall 4 cinema, Cinema 6, Starlite, Coronet…. all gone..
    What Fuck-up,or group(s) of more fuckheads came up with this” great idea?

    Why does the E of Park St get developed so much, and there isn’t 1 movie complex in the ‘hood?.

  28. SAYLOR FOR MAYLOR: The momentum builds. We have endorsements from Paul and from Ron and we want to hear from YOU!!

  29. So nice to see that things continued here in their usual vein after I left in favour of the hockey game. Now, THAT was a game!
    “If nominated, I will not run; if elected, I will not serve”. Unless it’s for maylor; I understand that that’s less work and more travelling.
    #43: at least Argyle Park has never lost a war.

  30. #59 Every day you find another way to make my job more difficult.
    Fine, we’ll push the “less work, more travel” agenda.
    The media, at least, will identify.
    But, please, no war stories, OK? It dates us.

  31. BY far the most beautiful project ever in the province we love the mayor thats why he has the highhest rating of any mayor in Regina history , i wonder why

  32. #62 You mark my words, Barb Saylor will smash it to smithereens. The mayor’s approval rating, I mean; not the building.

  33. #64 Done!! Pending the candidate’s approval, of course. But I can’t imagine why she would object.

  34. Thanks, boss. I hope I wasn’t being presumptuous when I spoke on your behalf.
    p.s. I’m still waiting to hear back from Fresh Jr. on that campaign contribution from Booster Juice. I’ll keep you posted.

  35. I’ll talk to my people at the Booster Juice. Here’s my pitch: for $10,000, all of Saylor for Maylor’s door knockers will wear “I’m a Saylor for Maylor Juicester Booster! button, while each piece of campaign lit will include a 50 cent-off any adult-sized Booster coupon, valid between 2 hours following the Royal Visit and to within 2 weeks after the close of polls. I’ll get back to you with deets ASAP.

  36. C’mon, Talbot. You and I go back a long way. I know you can do better than that.
    p.s. I’ve got Orange Julius on the other line. They’ve offered to put “I Hare Regina” on all their paper cups for the duration of the campaign.

  37. They’ll love it in the burps, for sure.
    And I’m confident we can sell it in the city self-centred, as well.

  38. #72 Not to worry, Barb. Everything’s under control. If we don’t win at the ballot box, we’re going to claim the mayor’s office by Divine Right. Jesus was a Saylor, after all.

  39. Would you excuse me for a moment, Barb?
    There’s someone at the door.
    My god, I think he’s got a

  40. We could keep beating this horse for awhile, but I don’t honestly think we can take it to the magic 100 mark.

  41. Don’t forget what Winstonian Churchill supposedly said about naval traditions. I’m thinking “Saylor for Maylor: Rum, sodomy and the lash” for a half-decent subcampaign theme. Booster Juicester’s new Campaign 2012 line of frozen fruit beverages for adults will include, pending approval, ‘Rum, Sodomy, and Succotash’ blend – 25 cents from each beverage will go to support the campaign in Canada; towards the Santorum campaign in the US. US_based decisions are out of my hands.

  42. I’m not pissin on RLjr for any other reason that was just in high school.

    Defining smug, only from personal experience. Not many other examples from my past to choose from.

  43. This has nothing to do with the Library’s needs, nor the Globe Theater, but about expropriating lands desired by a local developer (Harvard) to build more office space (and wealth).

  44. Since these are the city’s & a property developer’s plans; to re-construct the west side of the 1900 block of Lorne St.?

    What commercial developement plans do they have; for the basically vacant area of property, known as “Victoria Park”?

  45. They are not “negotiating”, they have simply made another approach on top of the many already made to the Masons. The Masons have consistently told them to go away so why are they now claiming to be in active negotiation?

    And #82 may be closer to the truth than you think!

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