Regina Planning Commission approves concept plan for Dewdney Avenue rail yard

Having a concept plan for the old CP Rail yard south of Dewdney Avenue “really unleashes possibilities” says a city councillor on the Regina Planning Commission.

The planning committee voted during its meeting Wednesday to recommend council approve the draft document.

“This really unleashes possibilities for how we want to spend city and potentially federal money in the short term and the long term,” Coun. Andrew Stevens said in an interview with Global News.

“We can’t wait for 25 years before we do something.”

The concept plan would transform the vacant lot — which the city purchased after CP Rail moved its operations to the west end in 2012 — into a “pedestrian-oriented urban environment.” It would allow for residential, commercial and recreational development, but prohibit industrial uses.

While the existing businesses such as the shopping centre, hotel and brewery, would remain, there is room for discussion around what will fill the remaining 17.5 acres that are open.

Three delegations addressed the committee with ideas for the area. All of them spoke about the importance of building for pedestrians and improving transit.

The executive director of Regina’s Warehouse Business Improvement District, Leasa Gibbons, also talked about filling the space in the interim, suggesting the city try out different ideas to see what sticks.

“Our hope is that over the next 10 years, as they do the work with the money that they’ve received, that we can do some temporary interventions to really activate the space so that it doesn’t sit like a vacant dust bowl,” Gibbons said in an interview with Global News.

She noted a dog park and gardens could fit there in the short-term.

Coun. Jerry Flegel, who is on the commission but was not in attendance at meeting, has been floating a vision of his own for the site which would see it become a hub of sport, culture and recreation. His preliminary drawings include a baseball diamond, ice-pad and pickle ball court.

He told Global News earlier in the day that it fits within the city’s proposed concept plan parameters.

“It opens up a good, nice, solid eight acres of land that someone could do something else,” said Flegel, who is also pushing for something to happen on the property sooner rather than later.

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