By Aaron Stuckel
The City of Regina has moved toward finalizing a deal with Canadian Pacific Railway to purchase 17.39 acres of land along Dewdney Avenue.
On Oct. 9, city council approved a land sales agreement that would see CP moving its container yard by July 2014.
The City expects to begin neighbourhood planning before Jan. 31 when the deal is hoped to be finalized.
“That planning work will start before CP has vacated the land,” said deputy city manager Brent Sjoberg.
That process could include one of two things, he said. The first would include the “traditional process” of hiring a firm to table plans. The second would have developers submit plans which council would then vote on. Either option would include input from neighbourhood stakeholders.
This has members of the Warehouse Business Improvement District excited.
“They’ve already indicated to us that they will be engaging us in additional conversation and requesting input,” said WBID executive director Audrey Price. “It never hurts to have other people’s ideas included and we’ll be able to share those.”
Green space and a place where people can congregate are top priorities for Price, who added that she hopes to see a mix of businesses enter the area. She also said having added housing in the area would help to increase business.
“It’s exciting to think about what the potential is now on Dewdney Avenue and what could happen there,” she said.
The sale is also important to the $1 billion Regina Revitalization Initiative, said Sjoberg.
“The key focus here is connecting the Warehouse District with the downtown. The rail yard has been a natural barrier for those to areas for 100 years,” said Sjoberg. He added he can see a vibrant nightlife developing along Dewdney Avenue.
A main rail line will still run along the southern boundary of the property. But, according to Sjoberg, a plan for a pedestrian bridge will aid in connecting the two districts.
The purchase of the land will cost the city $7.5 million, while $1 million will be spent on site clean up. The removal of two train bridges will cost roughly $600,000 with environmental remediation adding another $500,000.
After about a year of negotiations, Sjoberg said both sides are happy with the arrangements, and the city is excited to enhance its appeal.
“We can… concentrate some of the development in the heart of the city as opposed to spreading out, and that’s really critical to creating that dynamic-type downtown,” he said. “That’s what we’re really looking forward to.”
Though the land will be ready for sale by 2015, Sjoberg said completion of the entire area will take until roughly 2025.