Lost Interviews Of 2013: Annexation, Collaborative Planning And [The Notorious] Wascana Village

Wascana Village Block PlanI was sifting through my harddrive over the weekend, looking over unused interviews and abandoned notes from 2013, and realizing there were a few things we didn’t make nearly enough of a stink over.

For instance, I found a trio of interviews related to the city’s annexation plans and the Rural Municipality of Sherwood’s proposed new development, Wascana Village. If the latter goes forward, that’ll be a suburban town of 14,000 latched onto Regina’s south east edge, like some kind of very smug, parasitic fish.

We reported on Wascana Village and the RM quite a bit last year but I only ended up using a few lines from these three interviews and, after rereading them, I realized there’s stuff in there that might of interest to a wider audience.

My takeaway: Despite the city and the RM acting all chummy at a Nov. 6 special joint meeting of their two councils, Regina’s administration is still very concerned about Wascana Village and the impact it could have upon our city.

More disturbing: The RM seems to be playing a very… erm… “dexterous” game with Wascana Village.

The province turned down their new Official Community Plan last year and, without that, any new development on the fringe of Regina won’t be going forward. But if they finally get the provincial okay for their OCP and Wascana Village does go forward, much of it will fall within a newly created Collaborative Planning Area. In that CPA, the RM and the city are supposed to work together closely to make sure any new construction will be satisfactory to both municipalities.

And yet, Sherwood deputy reeve, Tim Probe, is pretty brazen about how Sherwood’s OCP will be what governs development within the Collaborative Planning Area and not the Regina’s. Plus, he says that if there needs to be a compromise on Wascana Village’s design so that it satisfies the requirements of Regina’s administration and council, that will be up to the developer and not the RM.

Hunh? So that Collaborative Planning Area should be quite a success then if the RM is going to be washing its hands of all the mucky work of actually collaborating.

Plus, I find it a little disturbing to hear Probe say something like this:

“The city has lots to offer the RM of Sherwood in terms of services and their professional staff and planning.”

Reeeeeally…

Now I seem to recall Sherwood saying repeatedly that we don’t need to fear their Wascana Village plan because they’re going to design it to be totally self-sufficient with its own water treatment plant and everything. But now they don’t just want our services, they want to use our planning staff as well???

I think they’re kinda busy, thanks.

Anyway, maybe you think I’m making too much out of all this. And maybe you’re right. And you get to be the judge because you can read the interviews yourself and tell me what you think in the comments below.

The first interview is a fragment of a scrum with Sherwood’s deputy Reeve, Tim Probe, from just after a special council meeting on Nov. 6 when the RM voted to go along with Regina’s annexation plan.  The second is a follow up phone interview with Probe in which I get some clarification from him about his comments in that scrum. And the third is an interview with the City of Regina’s director of planning and sustainability, Diana Hawryluk, where we talk about annexation, the new Collaborative Planning Area and Wascana Village.

* * * * *

INTERVIEW #1: SHERWOOD DEPUTY REEVE, TIM PROBE, AFTER NOV. 6 JOINT COUNCIL MEETING

Q: What about Wascana Village?

Tim Probe: The Wascana Village is still on the books. And it’s still moving forward. The developer is I believe still pushing to keep things going forward.

Q: But what about this new Collaborative Planning Area?

TP: The city has lots to offer the RM of Sherwood in terms of services and their professional staff and planning. And we of course have the land mass to offer. So now if we can work in conjunction with each other and the developer is accepting of that, then it’s going to go where it goes. And I don’t know where that is right as of today.

The mere size of it, means it’s going to take an importance of its own. We’re going to make sure it’s a priority to get answers and see where we can go with this development. So yes, it’s very high on the priority list.

Q: What if there needs to be compromises made on Wascana Village to satisfy the City of Regina?

TP: It’s not about the RM of Sherwood compromising at all, it’s about the developer if he’d like to compromise or not. If the developer determines that he doesn’t want to compromise and he wants to forge ahead with what he’s got then we’ll have to talk that plan and try to move forward with it. It’s not just the city, and it’s not just the RM, it’s also the provincial government, the ministry that will have a say in this as well.

* * * * *

INTERVIEW #2: FOLLOW-UP INTERVIEW WITH SHERWOOD DEPUTY REEVE, TIM PROBE

Prairie Dog: After the Nov. 6 meeting, you said the Rural Municipality’s Official Community Plan will apply within the Collaborative Planning Area?

Tim Probe: That is correct.

PD: Presumably, because it’s a Collaborative Planning Area, the City of Regina will have some input into the developments that go into that area.

TP: That’s the intent of this whole thing. That’s correct, yeah.

PD: With Wascana Village, that actually would happen within the CPA…

TP: It will happen in and out.

PD: There’s a block on the area map with a 33 on it, is that where Wascana Village is happening?

TP: I think that’s approximately in the right location yeah.

PD: Is Great Prairie [the developer who is working on Wascana Village] still doing work on Wascana Village or is that still up in the air?

TP: I think they’re still proceeding. There’s still some amendments before the provincial government in order for bylaws to happen. Still there. Again, we’re working within our OCP of 10-91, not the brand new one yet.

PD: My understanding from a letter to your council from the province dated Feb. 22 is that the province has rejected the rezoning for the area that Wascana Village would be located in.

TP: It wasn’t just that area. It was all surrounding the city until the city and us came up with an area that was secured for both parties and feeling that was comfortable that they would have their say in certain area and we would have our say. So that’s what that letter of Feb. 22, it was actually postponing because they did approve in parts or potions of the RM where that would work and until we came to agreement that’s where that would sit until that came. We’re assuming now that our OCPs have actually worked together with the city planner and the RM planner and I think we’re both feeling comfortable I think. And there’s never 100 per cent surety till everything is singed and worked on. But at this point in time it looks like we’ve meshed our OCPs which should mean that generally we want the same things in the same area and not specifically it’s going to happen exactly as they would want it or we would want something in there. They do they have lands that now within that joint planning area as well.

PD: The city does?

TP: The city does which they never did before.

PD: You’re still working under the old OCP and you’ll be seeking approval from the province on the new one again?

TP: That is correct.

PD: Will the new OCP be amended to reflect the agreement between the city and the RM as laid out in your Memorandum of Understanding?

TP: It doesn’t reflect MOU that’s separate. Saying that, the MOU is completely signed that’s going forward and that’s simply a hierarchy of commissions or meeting rooms for their people and our people to come together until it goes to council — hopefully it doesn’t get there, hopefully we solve these things on the first or second level, not the third.

PD: Will the CPA be in the OCP?

TP: That is correct.

PD: So the CPA will be amended into both Official Community Plans?

TP: Well, the CPA will be mentioned, there will all the same criteria that we listed in the MOU. It doesn’t change our OCP or what can go within those areas. The same laws still apply or the same bylaws or whatever you want to call them, zoning regulations. Same as the city.

So, again, in all honesty it’s so new I’m not sure exactly how it’s going to work yet. It’s by trial and error. We’re going to go at it. We talked a little bit last night again with their council just in regards to that. And just you know it’s always on the table, it has to be. The developer spent significant money trying to get his agenda through or whatever he’s trying to do. So I don’t think he’ll go away quietly without an answer from our collaborative planners. Again, this is all to do with the city if they’re going to join in on the venture whether we can make things work with servicing that they may or may not provide rather than us have to search out our own water source and that thing. And that still may come to fruition at some point. But we’re hoping it doesn’t.

PD: With the Collaborative Planning Area, that’s a significant chunk of land and there’s a lot of opportunity to develop it. The City of Regina’s OCP has laid out a whole bunch of ideas about how street are developed and building forms and density and things like that. And I’m wondering if those sort of ideas from the Regina OCP will have any kind of influence in the CPA or if that will be completely separate sort of deal?

TP: No, it will have influence. Again it’s what we’re trying to design to work together. Whether density fits exactly the same for what we think to what they think may or may not be exactly the same. But the road networking system we’re open to say this is going to tie in, this is where this is going to go, this is going to work for future generations, so it’s not ad hoc, so all of a sudden we have five roads that come to dead ends, that’s not what we want. And so, yes, I mean again we’re back to we’ve got several different areas about XXXX the collaborative plan area that we’ve specifically mentioned in our plans that would attack all those isseus you just talked about. Basically road networking, density, what kind of structures can go, how high the structures can go, all that kind of stuff. Again we’re trying to work hand in hand, so it’s not going to be a separate hopefully document or separate development from what would work and make our city and our RM look attractive to anybody. And that’s where we want to be.

* * * * *

INTERVIEW #3: DIANA HAWRYLUK, THE CITY OF REGINA’S DIRECTOR OF PLANNING AND SUSTAINABILITY

Prairie Dog: How does the Collaborative Planning Area work?

Diana Hawryluk: Both the RM and the city have agreed to a growth intentions map, where each of our municipalities are going to grow in the future. In the southeast sector, south of the city, both the city and the RM have interest in those lands. So through mediation we decided that we would work together to formulate a joint concept plan for that area and we’ll address things such as transportation, land use, servicing, tax revenue sharing, capital/recreational funding models. So what we’re going to do is try and collaborate to come up with a plan.

PD: When you say “both parties have interest” what do you mean by “interest”?

DH: Well that was an area that the city has for a long time looked at growth and growing to and that was why it was originally part of the annexation area. The RM also saw that as an area that they might develop so we decided that we both have interests and we think that we can work out a process that probably could be an example for the rest of Saskatchewan to see how maybe different collaborative planning processes could work.

PD: The lands in the CPA will remain Sherwood lands.

DH: Well at this point in time they’re not being annexed by the city so they are… throughout the planning process we’ll be discussing many facets of those lands and how they’ll eventually be developed.

PD: Is it possible they’ll be annexed in the future? 

DH: I guess that’s a possibility that could happen. We took them out of our annexation area for now and we’re going to hopefully work out an agreement on how those lands develop in the future.

PD: You talk about the planning of this area is going to be collaborative and there’ll be agreements on how it’s developed… Again, when I spoke with Sherwood’s deputy reeve, he said that the RM’s OCP would prevail in the Collaborative Planning Area.

DH: Well that area is an area that we’re going to work together. In both of our OCPs we show that as the CPA.

PD: I asked him a couple things about this around the idea that the City of Regina has an OCP that has a lot of idea around street form, density, everything. It’s a comprehensive OCP. I’m wondering how the principles withing our OCP — which to my mind are more comprehensive and progressive than what the RM has put forward so far — how will those influence the CPA when the RM seems to be suggesting that their OCP will prevail in that area.

DH: I think that through our discussions and when we come up with this concept plan that’s the whole point to that area, is to talk about how again that area is developed. As both of our jurisdictions have said we see this area having a lot of potential but those discussions have to be had. And we have to start those conversations so definitely there’ll be a lot of discussions about our policies and thier policies and trying to find a balance in terms of what’s the best use of that land.

PD: Is it fair to say that a lot of what it’s going to look like and how it will be developed is still up in the air?

DH: Right. That’s the whole point of doing this collaborative planning is to sit down and have those discussions and really look at what is the highest and best use of that land and how is it going to be serviced, what is the transportation network that links into the City of Regina, and all of the different housing forms. And so it’s going to be a comprehensive discussion and like I said it’s something that nobody has done before so we’re kind of embarking on a new adventure and hopefully we’ll be able to come to a really great plan that has principle that will benefit both municipalities in the long run.

PD: How about Wascana Village?

DH: We haven’t talked.

PD: That falls within the CPA.

DH: Yeah. And there’ll be some new policies coming forward. In the OCP we’re making some amendments based on our discussion with the RM in order to address that and there is a policy where we will look at— because, you’re right, Wascana Village is only half in the CPA and half of it’s out.

PD: When I spoke with Probe, he seemed to suggest the decision on how to develop it would be up to the developer. And yet, won’t their OCP have some influence on the way that Wascana Village ultimately looks? Will you get a say?

DH: Well it’s in the CPA so it’s something that we would be consulted on through our [Memorandum of Understanding] processes. And we’ll work with the RM. We’ll consult with the RM when they provide us with more information about WV.

PD: There’s a letter from Feb. from the province saying the province wouldn’t approve portions of the RM’s OCP. The plan for the entire Joint Planning District [the JPD goes all around the City of Regina, the CPA is only the portion of the JPD that’s in the southeast corner] was not approved [because the RM and Regina didn’t have a system to work out how development is carried out in the land on the rural/urban fringe]. So by signing this Memorandum of Understanding with the RM and setting up the CPA, does this pave the way for the province to approve Sherwood’s new Official Community Plan?

DH: You’d have to ask that of the prov.

We went and had some mediation and talked with the RM and we feel from the city’s perspective we feel we’ve come to some really great achievements with our relationship and we’re moving forward.

PD: What did we get out of it? Superficially, it looks like we’re annexing less land after the mediation process. We’re basically opening up the possibility that something like Wascana Village will go up on the border of Regina.

DH: We never said we supported Wascana Village.

Those are things that need to be worked out. But when you asked the question, annexation and boundary adjustments, they can be a very long process and I feel what we achieved is we achieved a land base that can almost double our population. It’ll take us to a 400,000 population. That’s quite a significant change in direction in terms of past annexations. Most annexations have maybe been 10-year increments, maybe 20 at most. So this has been a 40-year annexation that, for us, getting a complementary resolution where we’re not battling it out at the [Sask Municipal Board] is the biggest achievement that I think for both of our municipalities to recognize the long-term growth of both of our municipalities. I think the achievement has been— we have surety, 1) within our border, we’ have enough to double our population, and 2) we have a growth [INAUDIBLE] that the RM of Sherwood is recognizing growth beyond that.

PD: I’m still hung up on Wascana Village. You know that it’s a thing that Prairie Dog has written about in alarming terms. Is that threat of a 14,000 person village on the edge of the city something that you’re concerned about?

DH: Yes. I mean, I think we’ve expressed our concerns and, as I said, we’ll be working with the RM to be looking at that plan and working with them to try and address our concerns.

 

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.

9 thoughts on “Lost Interviews Of 2013: Annexation, Collaborative Planning And [The Notorious] Wascana Village”

  1. Yikes. The last thing the city and its surrounding area needs is more exburbs, cut off from things such as public transit yet oh so close to the city that it’s practically a part of the city. Oh well, whatever makes developers happy!!!!

  2. I agree with your first paragraph’s assessment, Paul; this issue deserves greater attention.
    Thanks for posting the unused interviews.

  3. Thanks Barb.

    Stories also in need of more love: refinery fire, the good and bad in the changes in the housing market, the indoor skatepark, what’s actually in the OCP, transit. I have some more lost stuff to go up over the next day or two. But is there anything I’m missing that you — or anyone else for that matter — are jonesing to read about in the paper or on the blog?

  4. Good work Paul. The 1st mistake they are going with is using YQR “planning” staff. They couldn’t draw a straight line with a t-square.

  5. Topic : Why can’t YQR REMOVE snow & not just push it around? Fuck , most of the mains are 1.5 lanes … The annual pile on W of Lewvan on Dewdney is almost 2m wide , and the many idiot drivers just follow the clearish lines, & don’t Respect the lane makers at all! F clean the road so that Both lanes are usable.

  6. Maybe it’s time to Create a by-law where the city itself, is mandated to keep the roads More than just “drive-able… D –

  7. Great work Paul, and I fully agree, there needs to be far more discussion surrounding the Annexation Plans, and just who is who’s pocket. It is far too suspect to have years of animosity “resolved” in a matter of weeks – all the while one councillor RESIGNS, and another councillor doesn’t show up at probably THE most important RM Council meeting in years.

    Speaking to some of the things you point out:
    “Sherwood deputy reeve, Tim Probe, is pretty brazen about how Sherwood’s OCP will be what governs development within the Collaborative Planning Area and not the Regina’s”
    – Exactly. I spoke with Mr. Probe and other RM reps that evening, and that was the feeling I got from them too. They are either deliberately ignoring reality for another purpose, or they are truly naive to think that the City is the one that will be doing the bending for the RM.

    “The developer spent significant money trying to get his agenda through”
    – Yep. This happens a lot in the Regina area. And it helps when the developers put that money into the back pockets of those officials that are put into positions of trust and sole authority over millions of our tax dollars.

    Keep in mind that you have the Reeve of the RM who holds most-if not all-of the land that is being proposed for Wascana Village, and a former Mayor that owns a whack of land in the soon-to-be-announced Harbour Landing West (along with friends, family and associates). Add to that, realtors and construction lobbyists on Regina City Council, and you have a perfect recipe for disaster. Okay, maybe not that doom and gloom, but it certainly is a recipe for cooking up an all-too-appetizing situation of market collusion that has been proposed to the municipal and provincial governments for over a decade now. Note that the “boom” (which has been primarily a result of – ironically – housing and immigration), began around the same time as the major land developments were happening, condo conversions were being allowed in droves, and demolition of affordable housing complexes were allowed “because there’s nothing we can do”, and I’m certain you can see why there NEEDS to be an audit and/or inquiry into the goings on of Regina City Council, RM of Sherwood Council and both Administrations.

    I find that there are far too many “assume” “should be” “we think” comments in these interviews for a process that is supposed to be so set in stone, and everything was to be worked out in these private meetings that the public wasn’t allowed to know a single thing on.

    It is also very interesting to note, that the evening that the RM of Sherwood presented their OCP to the general public, Jason Carlston and Diana Hawryluk were there as well. What was funny, speaking candidly to Jason after the meeting, he claimed this was the first ever meeting he had attended, and the first time he’d seen their OCP. Funny – you’d think a planner would be more aware of what their neighbouring municipality is doing, especially if, in other interviews, he claimed the exact opposite. Just a piece of interesting info for your files.

    It is quite comical how – after allegedly meeting in private and going through a mediator – the two parties seem to be so on opposite sides of the equation when you ask them each the exact same question. It certainly leads me to believe that the RM, once again, got the wool pulled over it from the Wolf that is the City of Regina. (I’m not excusing the RM by any means, just they ought to have thought more about WHY the City was so “interested” – now – in getting the annexation issues resolved) It’s not in the best interests of taxpayers, but only for a select few who will profit – quite heavily I might add – from the manipulation of innocent, and often naive, taxpayers who see no wrong in anything these individuals do.

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