transforming downtown regina
Moncton’s Avenir Centre has been operating for more than four years in that city’s downtown. Hear what that facility has done for their city.
Learning from other Canadian cities
In the last 15 years, many Canadian cities decided to build event centres downtown and invest in their downtown libraries and they have benefited from that decision.
In that time, 25 event centres have been built in Canadian cities. Those most relevant and comparable to Regina include Abbotsford, London, Ont., Victoria and Moncton. All built downtown.
During that same period, there have been a number of cities that chose to invest in their central library branches downtown include Halifax, Calgary, Vancouver, Edmonton and Kitchener, Ont.
Calgary opened its 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.
Event centres built in Canadian cities in the last 15 years
Sarah Meilleur, CEO of the Calgary Public Library, explained how it benefits all of downtown during a panel discussion at a Canadian Urban Institute event. “Families make it a part of their weekends because there’s great coffee restaurants, playgrounds and yet the real draw really is the library.”
Strengthening Regina’s business community
More people spending more time and money downtown–where about
one-quarter of Regina’s businesses and 40 per cent of the city’s largest businesses are located strengthens the city’s business community.
For example, London, Ont. saw the amount spent on restaurants, accommodations and entertainment grow after building the Budweiser Gardens event centre downtown—
150 new businesses
added to the downtown core after announcing and building Budweiser Gardens in 2002
$12.7 million increase
increase in spending on restaurants, accommodations and entertainment
Gathering to meet community needs
Then there are the needs of the community, which are met by many diverse groups in the city. Some of that work is done through a connection to the downtown library branches. Sarah Meilleur, CEO of the Calgary Public Library, explained the role of libraries in this work.
“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 Meilleur 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.”
Attracting more residents downtown
An increase in the number of residents downtown will create a greater sense of security in the area. Spending time downtown creates more familiarity with the area, which in turn makes people feel safer. Additionally, a larger downtown population can allow businesses to remain open for longer periods, contributing further to the overall sense of security.
The development of event centers and investment in library branches downtown has not only attracted visitors but also new residents. Several Canadian cities have seen an increase in residential sales and population growth in their downtown areas due to these initiatives.
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.
Encouraging more investment downtown
All this activity inspires confidence in our city which leads to investment and development increasing. That is what happened in other cities. They saw more new construction, existing buildings repurposed and the mix of buildings in their downtowns broadened.
In Moncton, 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.
A city’s strength and growth depends on the appeal and activity of its downtown.
The ball is already rolling with a $26 million upgrade of Regina’s The Globe Theatre nearly completed. Then there is the update planned for 11th Avenue and Scarth Street, along with the announced Saskatchewan Drive Corridor Project.
These two projects – a multi-purpose event centre and a downtown library branch – are important to Regina. Locating a multi-purpose event centre downtown and invest in modernizing the central library branch downtown will contribute to transforming our city. Future generations will thank us for getting this right.
CITY BUILDING SPEAKER SERIES
The Regina Downtown Business Improvement District and Regina’s Warehouse Business Improvement District is pleased to feature Thom Mahler and Hannes Kovac as our second speakers in the City Building Speaker Series.
The series features speakers who have experience and insight into how cities can maintain and build vibrancy and prosperity by removing barriers to development and the importance of public and private investment in our central cities.
Thom Mahler, Director of Downtown Strategy for the City of Calgary, and Hannes Kovac, President and CEO of OPUS Corporation, will share their experience in positioning Calgary as a model for downtown revitalization, including:
The importance of collecting and sharing the right metrics
The roles of public and private financial investment in revitalization efforts
Understanding developer/investor’s needs – speed, certainty, incentives
Elevating the City – Developer relationship
Civic partnerships with the Economic Development Agency
Thom Mahler is leading the City of Calgary’s Downtown Strategy Team – the stewards of The City’s $200+ million investment to build a thriving, future-focused downtown. By advancing Calgary’s Greater Downtown Plan, the team will transform downtown from the traditional 9 to 5 business district to a vibrant city centre by: offering incentives for converting empty office space to residential units and other uses; programming and activating downtown public spaces to promote vibrancy; and kickstarting public space capital projects to support thriving downtown neighbourhoods.
Hannes Kovac has been influencing Calgary’s real estate market since 1997 and earned a reputation as an industry leader, overseeing the development of over 30 million square feet of real estate. Hannes was instrumental in landmark developments from Thunder Bay Ontario to Comox on Vancouver Island. Including award-winning buildings such as OPUS 8, the Golder Building, Interplex Business Park, Stampede Station, Stantec Centre and Britannia Crossing.
Time: 11:30 – 1:00
Where: Crave Kitchen and Wine Bar, 1925 Victoria Ave
Price: $55 per person +GST/PST
GET TICKETS HERE
THOM MAHLER BIO
Thom Mahler is the Director leading The City of Calgary’s Downtown Strategy team – the stewards of The City’s $200+ million investment to build a thriving, future-focused downtown. By advancing Calgary’s Greater Downtown Plan, the team will transform downtown from the traditional 9 to 5 business district to a vibrant city centre by: offering incentives for converting empty office space to residential units and other uses; programming and activating downtown public spaces to promote vibrancy; and kickstarting public space capital projects to support thriving downtown neighbourhoods.
Thom has previously served in various managerial roles in the City’s planning department where he was responsible for long term planning, development review and land use applications primarily in Calgary’s established inner city communities and Greater Downtown areas.
Thom has over 30 years of experience in city planning and has worked in the areas of development review, urban design, policy planning and economic development. In addition to his 20 years of experience with the City of Calgary, he has also practiced in Southwestern Ontario and the Lower Mainland of British Columbia. He holds a Master of Urban and Regional Planning degree from Queen’s University and a Bachelor of Arts, Honours degree in geography from the University of Manitoba.
HANNES KOVAC BIO
Hannes Kovac is the President and CEO of OPUS Corporation and President and COO of ARCI Investments Inc. Hannes is also founder, shareholder, board member, Director and Chair of Development for Northern Vision Development LP, a private real estate partnership established in 2004 with a mandate to acquire properties with strong growth prospects in the Yukon and headquartered in Whitehorse.
As former board member of Calgary Economic Development (CED), he is the current Chair of CED’s Real Estate Advisory Committee (RESAC) for The City of Calgary.
He has been influencing Calgary’s real estate market since 1997 and earned a reputation as an industry leader, overseeing the development of over 30 million square feet of real estate. Hannes was instrumental in landmark developments from Thunder Bay Ontario to Comox on Vancouver Island. Including award-winning buildings such as OPUS 8, the Golder Building, Interplex Business Park, Stampede Station, Stantec Centre and Britannia Crossing
More recently OPUS has been focusing on multifamily developments such as Mission Landing and The Nines in Southwest Calgary.
Hannes has a passion for growth and his success is bound only by his imagination, one need only spend a few minutes with him to understand how his passion and energy motivates everyone he meets. He has vision, creativity and drive and exudes a positive never give up attitude.
Hannes’ accomplishments include being awarded the Calgary Downtown Vitality Award in 2007 as well as the 2008 Leader of Tomorrow Award. He is a member of the Young Presidents’ Organization (YPO) and is the former Chair of the Property Tax Roundtable for The City of Calgary and a former board member of the Calgary Film Centre.
Committed to giving back to the community, his contributions and sponsorships have supported numerous charities, most of which focus on education and the well being of youth. In addition, Hannes has been involved with mentoring and supporting young professional athletes.
A native of Austria, he graduated with a Masters of Law from the Karl-Franzens University of Graz, Austria, before going on to do a post-graduate study in International Criminal Law at the University of Antwerp, Belgium.
CITY BUILDING SPEAKER SERIES / JAN 23
The Regina Downtown Business Improvement District is pleased that Tim Tompkins was the first speaker in the City Building Speaker Series.
The series will feature speakers who have experience and insight into how cities can maintain and build vibrancy and prosperity by recognizing the benefits of large-scale building projects and the importance of activating downtowns.
During his presentation at the Hotel Saskatchewan on Jan. 27, Tompkins pointed out how large-scale projects he championed benefitted Times Square and highlighted what is working well for Regina now and what more could be done to transform the city’s downtown.
Tompkins has been the President of the Times Square Alliance since 2002. He is the Chair-elect of the International Downtown Association (IDA) and the past co-chair of the NYC BID Association. He is also the founder of Shared City Shared Space, which nurtures the interaction of ideas, institutions, individuals and culture — particularly through public, private and civic sector collaboration — in order to make more prosperous, vibrant and equitable cities. He is currently teachers two courses as an Adjunct Professor of Urban Planning at the Wagner School of Public Service at New York University.
The City Building Speaker Series is a partnership between the Regina Downtown Business Improvement District, Regina Warehouse Business Improvement District and the Regina & District Chamber of Commerce.
REGINA LEADER-POST ARTICLE
RDBID hopes for at least two new projects for Regina’s downtown