It goes without saying that in order for a city to achieve sustainable growth and economic prosperity, it must deliver a high quality of life for its residents, and Regina is no exception. Therefore, by creating a city that offers the quality of life that current citizens expect and that prospective citizens will value Regina has the potential to become a production centre for culture and innovation and economic development. With this great potential, comes the opportunity to create a better, more dynamic city, however, Regina continues to face a number of problems that impede the process of growth and development.
Problems such as: How do we capitalize on growth while making sure our city stays livable, affordable and desirable? What is the best way to accommodate new growth and change? How do we make sure that all residents benefit from growth? How do we maintain and enrich what we value while finding room for a growing and diversifying population? Unfortunately, there are no “quick-fix” solutions to these problems.
When looking to solve the above-mentioned problems, the “basics” matter – the provision of things such as public safety, water quality, wastewater and transportation infrastructure, and public amenities and facilities are the essentials to keeping people healthy and safe. But quality of life goes beyond the basics. Our communities need to support diverse lifestyles, and provide a range of options for living, working and playing. This includes providing people with the ability to access a range of employment opportunities and housing options. The whole system has to work together efficiently and sustainably in order to achieve success.
Effective city planning is critical for Regina to remain livable, affordable and desirable, yet we also have the advantage of being able to build upon the assets that our great city already possesses. Regina has a huge potential for innovation with plenty of opportunities for small businesses to thrive. Regina also has a vibrant and unique culture – one that is accepting of diversity and tends to foster a deep-rooted sense of community. Regina is a place where you can easily feel connected and at home. All of these factors help lay the foundations for a healthy society and strong economy, so how can we further capitalize on these things to ensure sustainable growth in our city?
First of all, we must aim to design and create vibrant and complete communities. Our communities need to support various lifestyles, providing a range of options for living, working and playing. The daily necessities of life should be within reach, with options for accessing services, amenities and resources like grocery stores, banks and restaurants, together with community centres, schools and day care centres.
Second, we must aim to create an environment that supports and encourages new growth. Our communities should provide a range of opportunities for employment in various sectors, as well as housing options to accommodate various incomes, household types, abilities and stages of life.
Lastly, it is important to note that a successful strategy for sustainable city growth must strike a balance between ‘growing out’ and ‘growing up,’ offering choices from traditional, single-family neighbourhoods to more dense forms of urban housing and new neighbourhoods designed around a high-quality transit system. It will mean opportunities for more infill development, more mixed-use areas, combining residential with retail, office and light industry.
In order to achieve sustainable city-wide growth, the desire to encourage and foster change must be reflected in the City’s policies and programs. At the same time, all of us – from the City Planner to the neighbourhood resident – have a part to play in generating sustainable growth by celebrating our city’s cultural roots while at the time, embracing the future and its coming changes.