Across the street from the former CP Rail yard in Regina’s Warehouse District, three levels of government on Friday announced $33.6 million in funding for the Railyard Renewal Project.
The city purchased the former Canadian Pacific Rail Yards land in 2012, with the plan for the intermodal yards to be relocated to the Global Transportation Hub on the outskirts of the city. Since then, the city's website says, rail tracks and intermodal infrastructure have been removed.
The empty former container yard spans 4 ½ blocks on the currently uninviting south side of Dewdney Avenue.
Feds, province, city investing $33.6 million in Railyard Renewal Project
This funding will help “animate and give some life to Dewdney Avenue,” said Regina Mayor Michael Fougere.
The municipal, provincial and federal governments each invested $11.2 million as part of this announcement, which took place at Brewed Awakening on the north side of Dewdney.
The city hopes to revitalize Dewdney Avenue — reducing automobile traffic from six lanes to four in favour of creating wider sidewalks to accommodate pedestrian traffic, restaurant patios and potential bike paths. The new tree-lined street would include traffic lights.
Fougere said there will be some early activity on the renewal project next year and 2020 development should start by 2020, though the project is expected to take 15 to 20 years to complete.
“The idea is that you have a street that’s actually welcoming, and Dewdney Avenue now is not so welcoming. It needs some tender loving care. It needs a context,” said Fougere.
“But we need as a city to invest in public infrastructure to show the private sector who will build on the Dewdney lands to say we’re serious about having this happen now.”
This is a current view of Dewdney Avenue looking west, showing an unfinished south side and six lanes for automobiles. Artist's rendering / City of Regina
“Right now our neighbours are a whole lot of dust and a whole lot of wind. So we’re going to be really excited to have some neighbours, whether it’s other businesses, whether it’s residents, all that kind of stuff, get some more green space,” said Heise, who is also chair of the Warehouse District board of directors.
He said this investment is “a tipping point to start moving in the direction that we’ve always envisioned and the city’s always envisioned.”
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“We’re very excited that it’ll be a catalyst to further investment and development,” she said.
It remains to be seen what the neighbourhood will actually look like, but the mayor promises the city will listen to the community's desires.
Fougere expects to see some activity on the site in 2019, with the “major transformation” beginning in 2020, after requests for proposals are issued.
It will likely take 15 to 20 years before the entire revitalization is complete on the vacant land, which will include a pedway to connect the Warehouse District with downtown.
“Things like the Forks took a long time; I don’t expect this to be an overnight solution,” said Gibbons.
"The idea is that council is not going to dictate themselves what it will be. It's the community that says what they want."
“But I do see some interim solutions that involve parking and green space and active spaces, potentially a popup dog park. We want to see some community gardens, maybe a place to play pickle ball, and a place to sit down and have your lunch that is a nice, welcoming, inviting space.”
The Regina Revitalization Initiative plans to transform the 17.5-acre former railyard land on Dewdney Avenue into a new neighbourhood. The funding announced on Friday will help Dewdney Avenue become a street focused on pedestrian safety, while connecting the newly developed area with the Warehouse District. Part of the funding will include work on a pedestrian bridge connecting the Warehouse District to downtown.
This is a future view of Dewdney Avenue looking west, showing revitalized and widened sidewalks and four lanes of traffic, plus a turning lane at a traffic signal. Artist's rendering / City of Regina
This is an artists rendering of Dewdney Avenue looking west, showing revitalized and widened sidewalks and four lanes of traffic. Artist's rendering / City of Regina
The Warehouse District is “missing some of the key places that really help neighbourhoods develop,” added Gibbons, “so some of those things I think will be answered as we work through an interim use and then the redevelopment of Dewdney.”
The project also includes plans to bring in housing options, urban green space and commercial businesses.
The city will release a concept plan and design for the project — Phase 2 of the Regina Revitalization Initiative — next year, after the past couple of years seeking public input.
Fougere emphasized that this revitalization project is meant to complement — not detract from — Regina’s downtown.
“It’s going to be an area that enhances the downtown experience,” said Fougere. It will be new, different and exciting and will bring people downtown.
Regina Mayor Michael Fougere and Government Relations Minister Warren Kaeding announce joint funding to revitalize the former Regina railyards Nov. 23, 2018. (Andrew Shepherd/980 CJME)
The former Regina railyard could soon be transformed from gravel and train tracks into a vibrant new community space with room for housing, green space and businesses.
Regina Mayor Michael Fougere was joined by Saskatchewan Government Relations Minister Warren Kaeding to announce $33.6 million in joint funding for the infrastructure project.
The funding for the Regina Revitalization Initiative Railyard Renewal Project will be split evenly between all three levels of government and will go towards cleaning up the site, installing utility infrastructure and developing public spaces like a park.
Canadian Pacific Railway moved operations out of the city to the Global Transportation Hub several years ago. As a result, 17.5 acres of land in the heart of Regina has been virtually unused space.
While the rail lines will still go through the site, the remaining space will be redeveloped to offer potential diverse housing options and commercial opportunities.
The first stage of the highly anticipated project is to redevelop Dewdney Avenue to be more pedestrian friendly.
“The idea is that you have a street that is actually welcoming. Dewdney Avenue now, is not so welcoming. It needs some tender loving care,” said Mayor Michael Fougere.
The improvements could include wider sidewalks, crosswalks, a buffer zone between the sidewalk and the road with trees and a potential future bike path. Some of the early work will start in 2019 with the major transformation in 2020.
Future plans over the next 15 to 20 years include building a new pedestrian bridge linking the Warehouse District to the downtown and developing the big empty rail yard.
A concept plan will be presented to council in 2019 to get an idea of what could be built. Fougere said the project will reflect the priorities of the community with a strong emphasis on public input. There could be anything including an arena, baseball diamond, restaurants, libraries, housing and a park.
“I think every city would envy having this opportunity to make something happen here that’s unique,” said Fougere.
The federal and provincial governments along with the City of Regina are each contributing $11.2 million to the project through the New Building Canada Fund. The city will be responsible for remaining costs.