Regina has an opportunity to transform by building a central library branch and a multi-purpose event centre downtown.

 

On the January 19 Greg Morgan Morning Show–CJME, Greg spoke with Regina Chamber of Commerce CEO Tony Playter about the importance of the multi-purpose arena, and the central library branch, being located in downtown Regina.
The segment begins at 3:41.

FACILITIES PROPOSED FOR REGINA

These facilities would attract thousands of people downtown. They would encourage more people to spend more time and money downtown which is good for all of Regina. 

In 2022, Regina City Council created a Catalyst Committee to make recommendations regarding five proposed recreation and cultural-based facilities.

The five proposed projects are the:



INDOOR aquatic centre

MULTI-PURPOSE OUTDOOR BASEBALL EVENT CENTRE

central library branch

SYNTHETIC OUTDOOR FIELD PROJECT (SOCCER)

multi-puporse event centre

With five major projects proposed to be built in our community, Regina must maximize this opportunity. Several boxes need to be checked to ensure these projects strengthen our city.

RDBID is focused on one of those boxes – where these facilities will be located. 

Location matters

We must locate these facilities within Regina where they can most benefit the city’s economy as well as its people.  

Downtown is the best place for two of these proposed facilities a central library branch and a multi-purpose event centre. 

We know from the experience and analysis of other Canadian cities that these types of facilities belong downtown. That is where they can best stimulate economic growth and social development in Regina. 

Future generations will thank us for getting this right. 

Why downtown?

A central library branch and a multi-purpose event centre downtown will host events and services that people desire. 

That will draw thousands of people to gather at these two destinations that are centrally located in our city. 

Other Canadian cities have built central library branches and multi-purpose event centres downtown. 

Based on their experiences, we know it is quite likely that people coming downtown to these locations will visit other spots in the vicinity of the central library branch and a multi-purpose event centre. 

There are already many options for them to dine, shop, stay and more – all in one 55-block area that is downtown Regina.

Regina will benefit from this buzz of activity downtown. 

Downtown is where it is at

A city’s growth depends on the appeal and economic activity of its downtown. 

In the last 15 years, many Canadian cities have invested in their central library branches downtown – including Halifax, Calgary, Vancouver, Edmonton and Kitchener, Ont. 

There have also been 25 event centres built in Canadian cities in that time. The most relevant and comparable event centre sites to Regina include Abbotsford, London, Ont., Victoria and Moncton. They all built downtown.

Based on the experience of these other Canadian cities, Regina must do the same. More people spending more time and money downtown will contribute to growing Regina in numerous ways. 

  1. More people downtown 
  2. More people downtown brings a greater sense of security 
  3. Meeting the needs of the community
  4. Stronger business community
  5. More residents living downtown
  6. More investment and development

 

More people downtown 

A central library branch and a multi-purpose event centre will be destinations for many people in our city and province. 

Tens of thousands of people are currently drawn to downtown Regina by their jobs. During the daytime hours on weekdays, there are around 35,000 people working in downtown Regina. 

Imagine that kind of activity during evenings and weekends, drawn by events and services at the downtown library branch and multi-purpose event centres. People would be spilling out across downtown to restaurants, retail shops, hotels and more. 

Sarah Meilleur, CEO of the Calgary Public Library, encourages other Canadian cities to recognize how a downtown library branch can revitalize their downtowns and their entire community. 

“Imagine the impact of those many visitors to your downtown and on your community if you increased your investment in your library system,” she said during a panel discussion at a Canadian Urban Institute event.

  • Calgary opened a new downtown library branch in 2018. That city’s mayor at the time said the branch draws more people than all sports and arts and cultural events in Calgary combined. 
  • Saskatoon is building a downtown library branch expected to open in 2026, calling it a “destination for everyone, including future generations.” 
  • In downtown Winnipeg, the MTS Centre attracts thousands of people to the downtown core for events during hours when office workers are not present.

Greater sense of security

More people downtown at more hours of the day promotes a deeper sense of security. 

When more people spend more time downtown, people feel safer downtown. The more people spend time downtown, the more familiar the area becomes to them. When there are more people downtown, businesses can stay open longer and that adds to the sense of security. 

We know this from other Canadian cities. Edmonton saw a drop in crime in the area surrounding Rogers Place in its downtown after opening in 2016. 

Violent and property crime there is down as much as 24 per cent. 

Meeting the needs of the community

The needs of the community are met by many different groups in the city. Some of that work is being done through their connection to the downtown library branches. 

Libraries are part and have to be part of an interconnected web of supports, and we work in collaboration with a lot of other community agencies and services,” said Sarah Meilleur, CEO of the Calgary Public Library, during a panel discussion at a Canadian Urban Institute event.

She described how “one of the things that libraries are great at is lifting up other organizations and providing space to amplify the work of others and convening community partners in the care of our community.”

Stronger business community

More activity downtown means stronger businesses — and more businesses. Downtown is where about one-quarter of Regina’s businesses and 40 per cent of the city’s largest businesses are located. 

Bringing more people downtown for more time will increase spending at these businesses. Saskatoon developed a business case regarding the library project there. KPMG’s business case states that increased visitor traffic to libraries results in increased spending at nearby shops and restaurants.

Calgary is experiencing exactly that. Its downtown library branch opened in 2018.

“Families make it a part of their weekends because there’s great coffee restaurants, playgrounds and yet the real draw really is the library,” said Sarah Meilleur, CEO of the Calgary Public Library, during a panel discussion at a Canadian Urban Institute event. 

Event centres have the same effect. London, Ont. saw the amount spent on restaurants, accommodations and entertainment grow after building an event centre downtown — a per year spending increase of $12.7 million. Its downtown core added 150 new businesses after announcing and building Budweiser Gardens in 2002.

That business case regarding Saskatoon’s library project also states, “libraries often attract other progressive businesses, cultural organizations and residential ventures, leading to economic diversification.”

Edmonton’s Rogers Place Arena was developed with the intention of it driving further development in that city’s downtown. An entire district, known as the ICE District, is developing with a casino, hotel, skating rink, public park, restaurants, retail outlets, office space and over 1,000 residential units.

More residents living downtown 

Many will visit downtown while others will find their new home because they recognize a lifestyle they desire. Cities that develop central library branches and event centres downtown have seen new housing developed and more people moving in.

  • In London, Ont., there was a 75 per cent increase in the population living downtown between 1996 and 2016 after it opened Budweiser Gardens in 2002. 
  • Calgary’s downtown library branch is considered a key anchor tenant that is expected to contribute to growing the downtown population by about 7,500 residents by the mid-2020s.
  • Edmonton saw a 60 per cent increase in condo sales in 2016-17 after Rogers Place opened downtown. 
  • Winnipeg’s MTS Centre attracted housing developments, which resulted in increased population density and investment into different types of housing downtown.

More investment and development

A significant construction project downtown inspires confidence in the city. This can spark further investment. 

Once built, a central library branch and a multi-purpose event centre will contribute to a more active downtown, which stimulates more business and property development. More new construction will be encouraged, existing buildings will be repurposed and the mix of buildings downtown will be broadened.

Regina’s downtown is already experiencing construction that will improve its attractiveness. The Globe Theatre’s $26 million-upgrade is nearly completed. An update is being planned for 11th Avenue and Scarth Street. Constructing a multi-purpose event centre and a central library branch would encourage further development and activity.

A business case developed by KPMG regarding the Saskatoon library project says, “Central libraries around the world are being used as magnets for development and are often a primary project in a revitalization strategy.” Saskatoon sees its library as “a critical piece of social infrastructure driving downtown development, economic growth and social inclusion in Saskatoon.” 

When Calgary’s new downtown library branch opened, the CEO at the time said that the location of a library is as important at what the building contains because of the development it inspires around it. 

Other Canadian cities have seen numerous construction projects move ahead downtown after announcing and building a multi-purpose event centre downtown. 

  • In Moncton, New Brunswick, after they announced Avenir Centre, building permits for downtown soared. There are $108 million worth of new downtown projects expected by 2023. 
  • In Winnipeg, between 2005 to 2013, over 100 new projects were completed in the downtown core after the MTS Centre opened in 2004.  
  • In London, Ont., after Budweiser Gardens was announced, there was over $255 million of additional private-sector investment that took place in its vicinity, including the construction of over 2,200 residential units.

Build downtown

You can see why we conclude that downtown is the best place for two of these proposed facilities a central library branch and a multi-purpose event centre. 

These projects are important to Regina’s future and locating them where they can contribute the most to our city is vital. 

We encourage you to share with others why you agree that downtown is where we should build a central library branch and a multi-purpose event centre. Future generations will thank us for getting this right. 

Sources:

Day 1 | Challenges and Opportunities for Anchor Institutions to Rebuild Downtowns: Libraries – Canadian Urban Institute (canurb.org) 

https://saskatooncentrallibrary.ca/isl/uploads/2020/08/NCL_Report_for-release.pdf 

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/business/industry-news/property-report/article-central-libraries-turn-the-page/ 

BRANDT CENTRE 2.0: EXPLORING THE FUTURE report by the Arena Planning Strategy Committee in February 2021.

The Making of a Library. The Shaping of a City. Video by Calgary Municipal Land Corporation. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eLtcR2a6kNk 

 

Share This