Monday was election day in Saskatchewan, which meant all eyes (well, my eyes) were on the results of the all-important mayoral elections in Saskatoon and Regina, two cities that are considering whether to devote public money to building sports arenas. And the verdict in Saskatoon is: It snowed. A lot. So the election is put off until Friday.
Fortunately, conditions apparently weren’t as bad a couple of hours south in Regina, and the results there are in:
- Incumbent: Michael Fougere: 14,023 votes, 34 per cent
- Sandra Masters: 18,177 votes, 46 per cent – Elected
- Jerry Flegel: 3,130 votes, eight per cent
- Tony Fiacco: 1,455 votes, three per cent
- Jim Elliott: 1066 votes, two per cent
- Darren Bradley: 488 votes
- Mitchell Howse: 478 votes
- George Wooldridge: 281 votes
- Bob Pearce: 121 votes
Mayor-elect Sandra Masters, according to her campaign page, is a credit manager for mega-agribusiness Richardson Pioneer and a former vice-president of Hockey Regina, the local youth hockey organization. According to her interview last week with the Regina Leader-Post, this is her vision for the city:
Masters: As a city we need to lead growth, rather than penalizing renewal with a burdensome improvement tax. As mayor, I will work to eliminate the 29 per cent intensification levy. We also need to rejuvenate our downtown by attracting investment into our downtown core and support initiatives that will enhance and fill the more than 1,800 residential spaces currently available. We need to create a plan for a new downtown library and multi-use cultural facility to replace the current facility within 10 years. This will enhance quality of life, community identity and pride by supporting arts, culture and four-season sport and recreation activities for all our citizens, fostering community vibrancy and cohesiveness.
To translate: The “intensification levy” is the same as the “improvement tax,” and is a tax surcharge (not actually 29%, but subject to a complex formula) that is designed to offset the city’s costs of building infrastructure (roads, schools, that stuff) to support new development by charging developers a fee. A “multi-use cultural facility” means a hockey arena, preferably one with lasers and fireworks shooting out of the top of it. “Community vibrancy” means absolutely nothing at all.
How Masters plans to pay for a new arena, especially while cutting taxes, is completely unknown, but she did leave herself an awful lot of wiggle room with that “within 10 years” qualifier. Though she might face pressure to act more quickly if Saskatoon elects a pro-arena-funding mayor on Friday; she wouldn’t want Regina to fall behind in the race to host (squints at Canadian concert ticket sales rankings), uh, Queen and Backstreet Boys.