Owner worries mega-projects valued over small business in downtown Regina

April 12, 2012 - 6:08pm
Artist rending of fourth Hill Tower. Photo courtesy of Harvard Development.
Artist rending of fourth Hill Tower. Photo courtesy of Harvard Development.

At least one business owner in downtown Regina worries the City is prizing mega-projects over local business.

"It's becoming increasingly difficult to be downtown these days," admits Kelly Hague.

He speaks from experience. His family business, Loggie's Shoes, has been operating in the area for more than 100 years.

But he says customers are finding it harder and harder to get to the store these days. Part of the problem is construction workers from the nearby Hill Tower site park at the meters outside all day long.

Now word that construction will begin on yet another office tower on Hamilton Street is triggering a new wave of worry. It will get started Hill Tower III is completed.

"I'm not against having office towers downtown but I think they've forgotten some of the things that make people come downtown," said Hague.

His understanding of the City's highly-publicized Downtown Plan was that it was supposed to help create a vibrant downtown with a mix of residential, office, and retail spaces. Right now the equation seems a bit lopsided, he contends.

"If we get through this whole construction what happens when the new building is built? That's less retail on the street.

“The Hill Tower III takes away that corner of retail and this new building takes away some retail and all of a sudden there isn't that much left on the street.

“You want as many small shops on the street as you can in order to draw a wide variety of people to the street and make it interesting to walk down and for people to browse and shop in the different stores."

In the last few years several businesses have claimed the inconvenience and reduced parking due to construction is driving away customers and hurting business.

Mayor Pat Fiacco has responded consistently on the issue. He’s been fielding complaints since the delayed construction of the new plaza space on 12th Avenue, north of Victoria Park.  He was reached in San Francisco.

Fiacco insists that these massive construction projects are serving the greater good.

"People wanted a vibrant downtown and that doesn't happen overnight and it doesn't happen without a bit of inconvenience," he said.

"You can't renovate your kitchen assuming you're going to continue to cook in your kitchen while the renovations are taking place."

He says some Reginans simply don't like change but he feels the City needs to remain flexible while staying focused on future growth.

He promises the City is doing whatever it can to help out downtown businesses.

Edited by CJME's Karen Brownlee.