Regina elects mayor who wants to build new hockey arena while cutting taxes on developers

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:

MAYORAL ELECTION

  •  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.

This election holds future of the world (or at least Saskatchewan) in the balance

This November, voters face a stark choice that will determine the entire direction of their future lives. And it could be a long wait for results, as election officials go through the long process of counting this year’s many mail-in ballots.

I’m speaking, of course, about the mayoral election in Regina, where eight challengers are facing off against incumbent Michael Fougere in the race for City Hall. And one of the issues at stake is whether to build a new arena for the junior-hockey Regina Pats, at an unknown public cost. The idea was first floated by mayoral candidate and current city councillor Jerry Flegel about a month ago, and now many of the candidates have been chiming in:

  • Former amateur hockey and fastener-supply salesperson Darren Bradley: “I threw [out] the idea of a new arena the first day it was mentioned to me, on my Facebook page, on Sept. 23, that will occupy some empty space. That’s one idea that will rejuvenate the core and help the businesses around there and throughout the city, long term.”
  • Flegel: “I am proposing the development of a new entertainment and sports facility in the core of the downtown area. The facility will draw entertainment, concerts, and sporting events year round to the City of Regina, which will grow the city’s economy substantially.”
  • Guy with an adorable handmade sign George Wooldridge: “I am also shocked that fellow mayoral candidates want to build another sports facility when we haven’t paid for the existing one. We must look at all options to ensure the stadium does not become an ongoing fiscal burden.”

Okay, okay, so that’s not the only election going on. There’s also a momentous decision being faced by voters across the border — the border between Regina and its Saskatchewan neighbor Saskatoon, which is facing its own decision on whether to build a new arena for the Blades (junior hockey), Rush (lacrosse), and Rattlers (minor-league basketball), also at uncertain public cost. While the current city government has been in favor of the plan, Saskatoon’s six mayoral candidates are split, with their positions roughly being: we should have built a combined arena and librarynobody can get to a downtown arena with our lousy transita new arena will only siphon off business from existing locations, so let’s build it in a different part of the city maybe?; downtown growth is good; Saskatoon needs “an arena, convention centre or whatever” to bring people downtown; and need new arena soon!!!

I’m sure you’ll be watching as the returns roll in from Saskatchewan, plus any other electoral races that might be of mild concern. Vote early and vote often, and hope you’ve stocked up on your election supplies!

Friday roundup: Jaguars’ billionaire owner wants $232m in tax money, plus guess-the-Angels-rationalization contest!

We made it another week further into the future! Sure, it’s a future that looks too much like the recent past — bad pandemic planning and stadium deals with increasingly more well-disguised subsidies — and we’re all still here discussing the same scams that I really thought were going to be a momentary fad 25 years ago. But the zombie apocalypse hasn’t arrived yet, so that’s something! Also the Star Trek: Lower Decks season finale was really excellent. Gotta stop and smell the flowers before refocusing on the underlying horror of society!

And with that, back to laughing to keep from crying: