Executive committee has voted to postpone discussion on a City of Regina-owned land development entity until later this fall.

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An exploratory report has advised against the development of a separate municipal corporation to develop the City of Regina’s land holdings, though the idea may not be dead in the water just yet.

City administration presented the report at a meeting Wednesday, where executive committee agreed to wait for strategic details and push more fulsome debate forward to later this fall.

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The ensuing discussion, some in-camera, led to a referral motion from Coun. Andrew Stevens (Ward 3) to push any decisions ahead. The referral goes to city council for a final vote next week.

A municipal land development corporation (MLDC) would be an arm’s-length entity owned by the city but operated independently with a specific mandate, much like Economic Development Regina or Regina Exhibition Association Limited (REAL).

Administration’s report recommended maintaining the current in-house model, as it remains “the most effective and efficient” approach to the city’s infill and greenfield development needs.

Previous city councils have rejected the idea, most recently in 2018, due to concerns about the cost-benefit returns on making land development part of city business.

An internal land development branch was created instead and remains active, an in-house expansion to manage real estate holdings separately but still within the city’s planning and community development division.

The idea of an MLDC resurfaced in 2023 as a response to the catalyst committee as a way to co-ordinate the recreation megaprojects spotlighted in the committee’s final report.

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After two years of exploration, including a jurisdictional scan of other cities like Saskatoon and Toronto, administration said the catalyst committee’s work isn’t reason enough to create a separate MLDC.

“Catalyst projects can be part of the action within that overall strategy of a MLDC but should not be the sole reason for creation,” reads the report.

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Currently, the City of Regina has urban land holdings at the Yards, Hawkstone, Riverside, the Towns, the Taylor Field neighbourhood, Parliament Avenue and Queen Street.

Speaking Wednesday, director of economic and business development Chad Jedlic said a land development and disposition strategy is in the works, and once finished it will direct how such city lands are managed.

“If land is developable, it will guide how it is developed. If land is to be sold, it will guide how,” Jedlic said.

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Stevens suggested waiting to make any decisions on an MLDC until after that strategy is done and brought before council, which is expected to happen in July.

He said private industry has “lobbied fiercely against” the city becoming a player in the market through an MLDC, but having more of a stake could see the city “better equipped” to understand how policy works or doesn’t work.

“I would see value in having it where our regulators can actually better understand the industry and call BS,” Stevens said in reference to delegations from private industry that come before council to voice concerns over city policies.

Deputy city manager of financial strategy Barry Lacey said the observation has merit, but should be balanced by the perceived conflict of interest if the city were both a regulator and a developer.

“It could go two ways,” he said. “There is importance in keeping the two separate (but) I do think the regulatory arm could benefit from that inside perspective, so to speak.”

Barry Lacey, executive director of financial strategy and sustainability, for the City of Regina.
Barry Lacey, shown in this file photo, is the City of Regina’s deputy city manager of financial strategy. Photo by TROY FLEECE /Regina Leader-Post

Administration’s report similarly concludes that an MLDC could increase flexibility and focus on projects, while reducing “political involvement.” It could also create a problematic distance between city and development objectives, and new financial pressures.

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Preliminary work on operating costs came to an estimate of $1.9 million per year, plus an unclear amount of additional capital investment, said Lacey.

No funds have been allocated, either this year or in future capital plans. REAL at one time lobbied to add land development to its portfolio, but is not mentioned in the report.


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