What does Community mean to you?
For the RMRCA community is a place for belonging, a place to call home, a place to raise a family, and it's a place where you can lean into your neighbours and community organizations in times of need.
It also means having equitable access to all the foundational needs that residents require to be successful and thrive in a modern world, within their local environments. It means feeling supported not just by your neighbours, but by your community associations and providers of public services. It means having a sense of belonging while enjoying the same access to resources that other residents in Regina enjoy, without needing to travel across the city to use them.
Several years ago when the City of Regina released their Official Community Plan (OCP), a community or "complete neighbourhood" was defined as "places where residents enjoy their choices of lifestyles, food, housing options, employment, services, retail and amenities, multi-modal transportation options, and educational and recreation facilities and programs".
We love our community, we love the businesses and amenities that we do have. But looking at the City of Regina's own statement matched with thinking about the things that are missing or that we must travel out of area to access - our neighbourhood is incomplete. All things considered, knowing what we know and seeing the projects we see throughout the city, the RMRCA can't help but feel that West Regina and its 22,000 residents--of which half live in Rosemont Mount Royal--are missing a lot of characteristics that define a complete neighbourhood...especially when compared to the rest of Regina.
Multi-Purpose Community Centre
The RMRCA has been seeking a Community Centre for the Rosemont Mount Royal area for over 30+ years. Although always being repeatedly requested, last September, the RMRCA formally approached the City of Regina on helping with the building and funding of a Multi-Purpose space in West Regina so that Rosemont Mount Royal residents and those from the surrounding communities have the resources they need to thrive and be successful in their own community.
The Journey so Far...
When we met with representatives from the City of Regina and Councillor Zachidniak in September 2021, we provided them with a presentation outlining our:
Roles and responsibilities of our organization to our community and the expectations the City of Regina continually asks of organizations like ours
The disproportionate representation of community centres/community operated spaces in West Regina compared to the rest of the city
Where Rosemont Mount Royal and West Regina fell based on key socio-economic indicators, compared to the rest of the communities with community centres/community operated spaces in Regina.
Although all those in attendance noted our frustration and understood the position we were taking, they reiterated the current default stance of the City of Regina, is to NOT initiate in the development of new community centres (even though we weren't asking for a single use space). Representatives from the City offered to take our concerns away and get back to us. Since that time, the City of Regina's response has been to initiate a consultation process but to not necessarily look at the viability of our request for participation in a multi-purpose space venture.
Instead, the goals of the paid consultation are to assess the current and future community association programming needs in the West Zone, to see if they can be accommodated through churches, schools, or other means (which we knew and informed them in advance, is not and has not been a viable solution thus far). This process is ongoing and underway currently with a report expected to be delivered by 2022 year end.
From the beginning, the RMRCA has taken the stance that this consultation was not needed considering all the recent work done by the City of Regina when a city-wide community consultation process was initiated and completed in 2018-2019. The RMRCA and the West Zone Board were heavily involved in that consultation process and made sure that the City was aware of the ongoing facility and ammenities gap in our area at that time.
For the last year we left it to our elected officials and City of Regina representatives to look into what options were available and outside of the space consultation, in early October we were informed by way of our councillor about the Catalyst Committee being put together to assess several large-scale capital projects for Regina's core areas. At that time, it was expressed that if we did not get on this Committee's or the City of Regina's radar prior to these projects being funded, the likelihood of ours getting any support needed was unlikely. Through due diligence we made inquiries with the City of Regina and other contacts, to see if directly soliciting this committee was the right direction to go and it was decided, based on their mandate, that it wasn't. We still stand behind this decision but we also recognize that every non-profit and their lobbyist are actively soliciting the public for support on their projects via the Catalyst Project process.
It was decided that if we didn't raise attention to this now, the voices of our residents and the needs of our community will never be heard or met. Even with the ongoing space assessment, we need to seize this opportunity to let the City know what our community needs and what investing in West Regina would look like, through a cross functional multi-use space investment along with other yet-to-be-determined partners.
Why are current solutions not hitting their mark?
I can't stress enough that we've thought outside the box to brainstorm about what resources currently exist within West Regina. For 30 years we've talked in circles about what could be leveraged to provide the wide array of services that are being requested of our organization by both residents and the City of Regina themselves.
Going into, and prior to the consultation process we provided the City of Regina through our meetings, the reasons why current solutions don't hit their mark. Below are the facilities that we are asked to rely on to run any programming in the area. Keep in mind that this list includes what would also be available to most of the communities around us, some of which the below won't be accessible for.
Jack Hamilton Arena
Beyond some basic storage needs in this facility we have access to a single room, that up until Covid was generally occupied by a playschool service from North Zone, that is not operational anymore (a noticeable loss to our community in exchange for some space).
The limited size and layout of the space forces us to reduce the scope of our programs such as Forever in Motion and Yoga.
The rink area is not all season so sits vacant and unusable for over half the year. When iced, we would have to compete directly with the current bookings to run any kind of ice program.
This would have been a great viable location to overhaul and turn into a multi-purpose cross functional facility. Especially if it extended out to the surounding areas. We raised this concern/need during the new city-wide dog park consultation process two years ago, but were mostly ignored under the guise of creating an "amenity" in the area through fulfilling the directive of the previous council - even with immediate area, local resident pushback.
Northwest Leisure Centre
The RMRCA maintains the stance that this space was built to accommodate North West Regina communities such as Twin Lakes, Lakeridge, Walsh Acres…not ours.
The NWLC's reasonable accessibility threshold tapers off at Sherwood Drive. Communities like McNab, Dieppe Westerra, and Rosemont Mount Royal are too far away for this to be a solution. Asking residents utilizing community programing to travel that far to access programs is unacceptable and should have been flagged as a problem decades ago.
This community resource is near Rosemont but out of area for most other communities around us. Our understanding is that they are already at capacity for programming and that it is a cornerstone resource for that specific community. They shouldn't be forced to compete for precious space from outside organizations.
By our understanding, the body in charge of overseeing this space has a direct mandate to focus on programming that helps the immediate community. Which makes sense for what it was designed to do.
We also contend that having a multi-purpose space further west could help tackle Central/West Regina's larger socio-economic hurdles which are impacting communities on both sides of Lewvan. At times it feels like the City of Regina views the socio-economic problems in Regina as being boxed into specific communities, but those that live in Rosemont know better. The concerns around drugs, mental health, economic inequality, and more, are both shared by our neighbours to the east and residents in other West Regina communities.
Local Elementary Schools
Currently we have access to, and run programs out of, two of the three local elementary schools.
Covid shutdowns showed us that we can't always rely on the current model of foundations for programming and showed us the importance of have autonomy when it comes to some of the operating decisions for running programs.
We considered what could happen if either Walker or Rosemont schools were rebuilt, but our understanding by way of our councillor through their contacts on the school board, neither school are on a shortlist to redevelop.
Although we are very appreciative of current support, the new joint-use agreement doesn't entirely address the problems our organizations face leveraging these spaces or our concerns about autonomy and foundational program/community support development.
Former Dieppe Elementary School site
Our understanding is no community organization is allowed, including the local Dieppe Westerra Community Association, to have access to this resource. Even though it gets used by various other organizations.
Based on the way the river runs through the communities it makes it a very difficult resource to be leveraged by communities outside of Dieppe Westerra.
Martin High School
We have run programming out of Martin in the past and although they were a great partner, it wasn't without its challenges.
Similar to the other schools, Covid taught us a valuable lesson around the importance of foundational program support that is autonomous.
RCMP Heritage Centre
The cost to rent space from here was not only expensive but when looking at operating community programs, it was not feasible. Further to that, it is cost prohibitive to other community organizations around us that do not receive the same levels of funding support.
So what are the people saying?
Over the years, the RMRCA has run independent needs-assessments and most conversations or questions around the inclusion of a multi-purpose space has been positive. In fact a recent survey from September 2022 through our community newsletter, showed that the vast majority of respondents thought the community would benefit from having access to a multi-purpose, cross functional space.
During the development of the recreation master plan, survey data showed that youth and senior centres/facilities were #1 and #3 for household survey priorities, coming in at 91%. Senior's programs development is one of our key areas of program development that was undercut by the lockdowns. Programming that has yet to fully recover and likely never will unless we have a space to consistantly operate out of. Similarly, the youth in our area would benefit greatly by having access to better low-cost programming and other local amenities such as local skate park, which could be an ideal companion to a multi-purpose space.
To this end, organizations such as the West Zone Board/RMRCA have been trying to run modern programs geared at teaching technology and providing access to technologies that would generally be cost prohibitive for families otherwise. With no library in the area that would normally fill those gaps and provide that access, they have had to try to create strategies themselves. With technology literacy quickly being one of the biggest deciding factors in being successful in a modern world, programming of this nature requires a place to operate out of and develop programs from.
Further, based on the City's own data, Community Associations and associated facilities were key components to recreation service delivery. If that is the case, why has West Regina been left to fend for itself while the rest of Regina continues to get the foundational support those communities need to thrive and be successful? Why are our residents not offered the same proportional representation for community infrastructure that the rest of the city has access to?
Based on the City of Regina's own data, there is currently one Community Centre for every 18,000 residents. If you look at the census data from 2016, our area and those around us account for roughly 22,000 residents (not including Prairieview or the communities east of Lewvan Drive). Why are our seniors, children, and families being forced to leave our area for services? Why are our residents having vaccinations clinics in parking lots while other communities are doing the same in warm, safe environments? Why are our residents driving across town to have access to addictions, mental health, and social supports? We don't even have the space or resources to coordinate or operate a community fridge or clothing drop offs.
The recommendation by the hired consultant at the time this plan was being made, was to sustain and modernize existing amenities and to only consider partnering on the development of new community centres. All we are asking for is the City of Regina's help providing equitable access to services other Regina residents do, and to participate in the development of a multi-use, cross functional, multi-generational accessible space that can provide a variety of services to West Regina. Of which, would include community programming and support services for the residents in our area and those nearby.
What's our plan and what are we asking for?
So that's our story folks, that's what we've been asking for over the last 30+ years and why. To show how serious we are about this ask, below is a link to the presentation of our PowerPoint to the City of Regina and Councillor, as well as links to the reports we developed our information from. We also included some concept plans and costs (from 2018) of what a multi-purpose space could look like. Please keep in mind this is just one possible concept but shows how serious we are about our ask by starting the conversation around what this could look like and what costs would be associated. We won't wait another 30 years for the City of Regina to do right by West Regina as they should have long ago.
How can you help us?
We know that this will make a difference for our community and those around us. The impact that a project like this could have on the lives of West Regina residents is incalculable, but we can't do it without your support. Below are several ways you can help us achieve our goals to provide a better quality of life for all residents in West Regina.
Catalyst Committee - BeHeard Survey
As you may have heard, currently there is a committee formed to assess the viability and interest in 5 major venue/recreation development projects. Although not aligning perfectly with the goals of that committee, the RMRCA's request and other organizations such as the Wascana Floral Conservatory are asking residents to fill in the BeHeard survey and provide feedback. While filling it out, on question 41, respondents are asked to highlight any other projects that could benefit the community and the city. This would be a perfect place to show your support for this project and to provide a link to this information page.
The BeHeard Survey can be found here: http://beheard.regina.ca/
Write your Councillor/MLA/MP
Councillor Zachidniak, MLA Trent Wotherspoon, and MP Warren Steinley have all expressed support for our project in varying ways but it's always helpful for residents to show them how important investing in local support/program infrastructure is.
Ask them to put support behind us by helping advocate/provide solutions or direction to reach our communities goals.
Share this Page
Share this page and other information the RMRCA will be providing around our request. The more people that know our story and the struggles we've had getting the City of Regina to take our request seriously, the better chance we have seeing this vision become a reality.
Reach Out/Give Feedback
We are doing this for you and want to make sure you are included in the conversation. We welcome input from the residents in our area and the local organizations within and from the surounding communities. Help us shape a plan that will provide the most impact on the lives of residents of West Regina. Let's put the foundations in place that should have been added decades ago. Let's put support into communities that traditionally have done with very little, let's get the City of Regina to invest back into the tax payers that have invested so heavily in them over the years without asking for anything in return.
Keep Up to Date
At the bottom of this page is a link to be added to a contact list in regards to this project if you would like to be kept up to date. Please consider filling this out and sharing with others in the area to do the same.
As part of preparing our presentation to the City of Regina, the RMRCA enlisted several local builders to prepare quotes & concept drawings of potential Community Centre layouts.
Documents & Data
Letter to the Mayor
Community Centres were the 23rd highest indoor priority; 56% support development (20% strongly support, 36% somewhat support)
Youth centres and seniors' centres/facilities were #1 and #3 household survey priorities at 91% "strongly" or "somewhat" support
Stakeholder Survey and Interviews
A few indoor program spaces need to be added (11% of association respondents said that social banquet facilities were a priority (12th priority)
Senior centre facilities were also needed (10% of association respondents wanted seniors' spaces which was the 17th priority)
Trends and Leading Practices
Community associations and associated facilities are key components to recreation service delivery
Keep in touch
To keep up to date and informed on the progress of this project, click here to join the mailing list and please encourage others to do the same. The more awareness we can create around this, the better!