This Week At City Hall: Downtown Plan Tested By Hill Tower III

Tuesday, August 17
REGINA PLANNING COMMISSION (12:30 pm):
What’s this? A special lunch hour edition of RPC? Whatever could be so important to warrant such a thing? Why the Hill Centre Tower III, of course! That’s a new office tower proposed for the northwest corner of Hamilton Street and 12th Ave. This would be that skyscraper we were promised a year or more ago and which necessitated moves for both Comic Readers and Green Spot Café. City staff are recommending this project be approved despite the fact that it doesn’t conform to a few items in the Downtown Neighbourhood Plan.

First off, it won’t have the required “above podium step back.” What’s that you ask? Well, the base of new towers in the downtown are supposed to be built up to four stories tall, then any floors above that are stepped back from the podium. This makes the wall that faces pedestrians have a more human scale and helps deflect wind away from the sidewalk. Here, let me draw that for you….

Second, the new Hill Tower will be constructed too close to the old Hill Towers. Apparently, in the DNP, towers are supposed to be 20 metres apart. Having the two towers so close together could result in a wind tunnel effect through the alleyway between them.

Also of concern, there will be an elevated pedway between the new Hill Tower III and Tower II. I can’t recall off hand if these are restricted or discouraged in the DNP, but I do remember clearly that their detrimental effect on street life was discussed at length during the DNP consultations. I’ll also be curious to get a clearer view of what is intended for the ground floor of this tower. The DNP encourages street-level retail and restaurants in all new development. Not sure this lives up to that goal either.

Anyway, in exchange for these violations of the DNP’s Built Form Framework (the part of the DNP that covers this sort of stuff) the developer will be paying the city $416,800 over the next 10 years. The money will go toward public amenities and events in the downtown. This cash payout agreement is not as far as I know something that’s covered in the DNP’s bonusing framework, by the way.

So… the question is, what kind of precedent does this set? Will this lead to an unofficial cash-in-lieu system so that developers can fork over some green whenever they want to get out of inconvenient provisions in the Build Form Framework? Tune in to the next print p-dog to find out. In the meantime, here’s a drawing (not by me) of what the new tower will look like.

Winter maintenance policy review, Regina Pats funding, municipal ward review and more after the jump….

PUBLIC WORKS COMMITTEE (4 pm): Councillor Clipsham will present a summary of the Natural Step system for sustainability planning and decision making in cities. The committee will also look at a review of the winter maintenance policy.

Wednesday, August 18
EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE (11:45 am): Considering funding for the Regina Pats hockey club to the tune of $7,900 as support for the First Nations and Métis Awareness Night. Also considering recommended appointments to the Municipal Wards Commission: David Button, Justice Catherine Dawson and city clerk, Joni Swidnicki. This commission will review the city’s wards and make recommendations about whether or not they need changing. Justice Dawson will be the chair.

COMMUNITY AND PROTECTIVE SERVICES COMMITTEE (4 pm): Considering an agreement with Regina Ladies’ Softball Association concerning the ownership of the lighting system at Leibel Field. Also looking at a five-year spay/neuter contract with Regina’s SPCA.

And that’s about it. For full agendas and reports, check out the city’s website.

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.

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