And down comes the Black Building. Despite a last ditch effort by concerned citizens to halt the demolition (which you can read about here and here), the backhoes tore into 1755 Hamilton this morning, reducing a building that was once home to 46 affordable rental units to a pile of rubble.
For people concerned by the city’s zero-per cent vacancy rate — those being people with a conscience — this is a very black day.
And as we’ve mentioned repeatedly (here and here), this didn’t have to happen. Considering 1755 Hamilton lies within the downtown, and considering the Downtown Neighbourhood Plan speaks of the importance of having housing in the core and even recommends immediately turning the downtown into a Direct Control District (which would preclude any demolition permits being issued without council giving the go ahead), staff could have said that this demolition contradicts the wishes council expressed when they passed the DNP and then taken the demolition application to council so it could have been debated in a public forum.
But that didn’t happen. Instead, staff quietly issued a demolition permit on December 6.
At the very least, staff could have required Westland submit a plan for the site — another requirement that should be inferred from the DNP. But, last I checked with the city, Westland Ventures has no plans for the lot at 1755 Hamilton. So, for the foreseeable future, it will remain a vacant lot, it’s most likely use, another surface parking lot.
Of course, that should please some on council who think the site would a make a nifty spot for more parking (find the relevant quote and the name of the mystery councillor it comes from about midway through this piece).
And as we reported here (oh, and here), the destruction of 46 units of affordable housing at 1755 Hamilton Street is just the beginning of Westland Ventures demolition party in Regina. At their March 12 meeting, council cleared the way for Westland to get a demolition permit for the Crescent Apartments at 1550 14th Ave. And at the meeting, a representative for Westland revealed that all of the company’s properties in the city are being considered for redevelopment. That includes an apartment building at 1555 14th Ave and the Crescent Annex on Halifax St between 13th and 14th Ave.
And considering our councillors — including Michael Fougere, the chair of the Regina Planning Committee and the person many expect to be our next mayor — have explicitly expressed their unwillingness to interfere when a landlord decides to tear down rental housing (despite Regina being mired for many years now in a housing crisis), we can expect to see a lot more pictures like the one above in the months to come.
More pics of the carnage after the jump.