I don’t think it will come as a surprise to anyone that at today’s special meeting, Regina Planning Commission voted unanimously to recommend approval of Harvard’s plans for Hill Tower III. (At left is a drawing of the tower’s south east corner.)
Next step for the proposal is the Aug. 23 meeting of City Council. Anyone who has anything to say on the subject will have to have a written submission in to the City Clerk’s office by one o’clock August 19.
Former mayoral candidate and all round enviro-crusader, Jim Elliot, raised some concerns at the meeting about how the tower doesn’t entirely conform to the Downtown Neighbourhood Plan (see here for more on that). Later, another delegation, while largely in favour of the proposal, raised concerns about the effect the tower will have on parking.
Well, you know how I feel about parking being the public’s primary planning concern, right?
(Oh, I should note, in the staff’s report, neighbouring businesses also identified parking as a primary concern. The way the building will block the sun being their other major problem.)
Anyway, when Harvard’s VP of Leasing, Rosanne Hill Blaisdell, took to the podium to talk about the plan, RPC did pepper her with technical questions about the public spaces it will be building in and around Hill Tower III.
But the bulk of the questions, and the only ones that were at all challenging, revolved around parking.
Out of spite, I didn’t take any notes during those discussions. I do recall that it was a thorough interrogation and both Harvard and city staff are confident that parking plans proposed for the tower will be sufficient and parking in the rest of downtown won’t be overly stressed.
I was pleasantly surprised to hear Councillor O’Donnell address the subject, however. He said, “People want to park in front of where they’re going and stay there as long as they want and then drive away.” It wasn’t just an observation. He went on to talk about how people are going to have to think about what they want out of their downtown and come to terms with some parking changes.
Sounds pretty much spot on. Too bad the “coming to terms with” is going to involve a whole lot of kicking and screaming.