I received an email from a resident recently that I wanted to share with you all. They posed a number of questions about Regina in order to determine their vote this October. I am extremely pleased to see anyone take the time to reach out to candidates, but to go to the extent this person did, I am speechless. This is the kind of attention and dedication that I feel all residents should put towards all elections, but most importantly, municipal elections, because after all, that is where you can have the most impact.
I will post the questions and answers below, and then add them to my "Campaign FAQ" page for future reference as well.
Thank you everyone for your continued support and attention to this election!
1) Did you support the destruction of a functioning football stadium and its replacement with a new stadium at taxpayer expense?
I campaigned against this in 2012 when I ran for Mayor, for the simple reason that the current stadium is most certainly in decent enough shape to host the Rolling Stones, AC/DC and Sir Paul McCartney as recent as 2013. It hosted the Grey Cup in that same year. While it is certainly in need of updating and repairs, I feel the City portrayed the cost of these in such a manner that made it sound like the new stadium was the cheaper alternative. With that said, the new stadium is now near completion, and while I still don't agree with the need for it, we must now find ways to make it used as effectively as possible. I only hope that the promises to redevelop the current stadium site and the railyard do not disappear suddenly.
This is a good question, and as an accountant, I would want to know the full details of what would be required. If there are deficiencies that were promised with the construction, and it is within the contract, I would first want us to go back to the builders to honour their commitment. If there were things that the City didn't consider and realize now that it's either do it or the facility cannot open to the public, I would be hard pressed to simply rubber stamp it. I would want to ensure we are balancing both sides of the balance sheet, and the good thing is we do have the current facility still able to be used until such time the new facility is deemed ready for the public. I feel the Riders got a sweet deal in this entire transaction, as they actually aren't paying one red cent for this new facility. Contrary to Mayor Fougere and Fiacco's assertions, the Riders "contribution" is actually money funnelled through them from sponsors. Not one single dime comes from the Riders accumulated surplus, which I feel is a kick in the teeth to taxpayers.
I am so pleased that you posed this question. This is actually one of the items that I am campaigning on. I had discovered this over the summer through some research of a report done by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business. I was shocked, but not completely surprised, to learn that in Saskatchewan, businesses pay only $2.13 for every $1.00 that residents pay. Contrast that to the national average of around $3.00 and the highest near $4.00. I most certainly plan to address this situation, and it would have to be some kind of compromise of reducing residential taxes and increasing corporate taxes. I have found through my own independent research that companies in Regina pay 30% less than similar assessed properties in Calgary, Edmonton and Winnipeg.
I will say this - the Regina Chamber of Commerce has been responsible for so many favours to the business community in our City. That is one of the reasons why they pay the lowest in the Country in contrast to residential taxes. I have personally expressed my frustration with the Chamber at City Hall on numerous occasions, partially because of their tendency to exaggerate statistics, such as "67% of businesses agree with so and so", when in reality they only represent 1,200 registered businesses, of which fewer than 15% typically respond to their surveys. So, in reality, it is 67% of 15% of 1,200 of how many businesses are in Regina. So, to answer your original question - I would do anything I can to ensure businesses are not being subsidized by residents and that would include the burden for the new stadium.
While I have rarely used a library since I was in school, I do see the need for them and until such time that this becomes a global trend that libraries are closing, I would want to keep libraries open. I see them becoming about more than just books as people traditionally see them. With that said, if there are valid reasons anyone can provide to me for the contrary, or to possibly reduce the locations, I am always open to listening.
Absolutely not. On the contrary, in fact. This is one of my campaign platform ideas, and I feel that recreational opportunities are far too lacking in our City. We have a tremendous amount of greenspace, which is great, but not very many viable opportunities for our kids to partake in activities that don't cost much or anything at all. I want to see more skate parks opened and bmx parks (the city currently only has one of these along the grid road that is 13th Avenue by the airport), places for kids to spend their time productively, rather than resorting to situations that are less than productive like gangs or the like. Another popular item I have heard on the campaign trail (and over the past number of years) is a water park. Of course, to be most effective, this would have to be indoors. I think this is a great idea, as our current facilities really lack that "fun" factor that a water park would offer. As for the cost of it - we have a significant amount of room in our reserves and in our debt ceiling. Another viable option would be a P3 - which I don't normally support, but this is a good example of where that would probably be the preferred option.
10000000% no. As I said above, I feel offering recreational opportunities to kids are a great way to keep them from less appealing options, like getting involved and gangs and crime. While it may not be the ultimate solution, it is certainly a way to show them that the City appreciates them and knows they have a meaningful contribution to our City now and in the future.
This most recent situation with the Conexus office building, I do not agree with whatsoever. I campaigned against this over the summer, and was adamant that the City should not donate land for this purpose. If the university were using it for their own purposes, then it would be a different story. Granted, Conexus is a great community partner, and I am a proud member, I do not feel this is the appropriate use of the space. There were options available, and given our 15% vacancy rate downtown for office space, and the fact it went against the Official Community Plan and Wascana's own plans, it just seemed to be a no brainer that it shouldn't have happened. I was disappointed to see the lack of community backlash until after it was approved, but hopefully that serves as a wake up call to all residents to always be diligent with anything City Hall is capable of, regardless of how we feel they ought to decide.
If it is possible, absolutely, 100% I would do what I can to make that happen. Worst case, I would want to work with the partners to possibly get them to move it over to where the Conservatory is being demolished (this should never have been allowed to get to the point of no return either), so that there is minimal impact to the current greenspace and trees that make our park so beautiful.
As I said above, I don't normally support P3's in any way, whatsoever, but I do admit there are times when they can make sense. A recreational facility like a water park, which can traditionally be viewed as a commercial venture, would be a good example. A private business might have a tough go of it in Regina, but with a P3, the government and the private company can work together to ensure the community's best interests are met.
No. Personally, I would much rather see preference given to Saskatchewan companies first and foremost. I realize this may go against our free trade agreements, etc. (at least according to Brad Wall), but Saskatchewan workers should always be given first priority. If a company coming in from out of province (or out of country) can somehow do a project for cheaper than our local companies, I would have to question the validity of their bids and what are they compromising on that our local companies are not. Most importantly, as an accountant, I would want to know what specifically is affecting our local businesses that doesn't impact those from out of province or out of country. It has to be, after all, a level playing field for all.