City may spread $1.9-million ask from Globe Theatre over two years

Coun. Shanon Zachidniak harkened back to the outrage in 2022 when a promise for homelessness funding fell through, despite making a promise on the floor.

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Regina city council will consider giving another $1.98 million to Globe Theatre’s extensive renewal project as requested, but over a span of two years instead of one.

After a tense discussion on the merits of a multi-year funding commitment, the city’s executive committee voted 6-3 in favour of a suggestion to lock in the extra dollars over 2024 and 2025.

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The recommendation now moves on to city council for a final vote of approval on March 20.

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Globe executive director Jaime Boldt appeared at the end of January to make the request, and she returned Wednesday with architect James Youck from P3A Architecture to hear an answer.

“We’re so close to being finished,” said Boldt, before fielding a myriad of questions from city councillors that diverted to ticket sales and Globe’s business model.

The renovation is coming in at $40.56 million, an increase of 30 per cent from the original cost, prompting an ask for updated funding from the city, provincial and federal governments.

The City of Regina has so far provided $6.6 million to the downtown project. The additional ask would up that share to $8.58 million, or 20 per cent of the total spend.

Neither provincial nor federal officials have responded yet, but private donors have agreed to provide another $900,000 toward Globe’s share of the inflation.

If funding does not come through, Boldt said there is also a bank loan on standby.

“A loan is not a legacy any of us want to leave to the Globe,” she added.

Boldt said the non-profit would be amenable to splitting the $1.98 million over two years, lowering the ask to $990,000 per year if that’s more manageable on city coffers.

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Coun. Bob Hawkins (Ward 2) moved this option, suggesting the 2024 contribution be pulled from the catalyst pathway project to be built from Albert to Elphinstone Street.

The project has been promised $3 million over the next two years and is to begin construction this year.

“The Globe is priceless, and this is true,” said Hawkins. “It’s part of the fabric, the culture of this city and we look at it as worth going the extra mile to finish this project.”

Hawkins’ motion directed administration to seek alternate funding to backfill the pathway’s cost in 2024, or take the project back to budget in 2025 if not possible.

A second $990,000 for Globe is to be included in 2025’s budget book, with administration to find a source then.

Coun. Shanon Zachidniak (Ward 8) expressed concern about “bolting something into the budget” so far ahead of time.

“We’ve had this discussion before, about how that is not appropriate for us to do,” she said. “Perhaps folks remember the lawsuit (in 2022 over funding to end homelessness)?”

Coun. Lori Bresciani (Ward 4) seconded that issue, adding that “the taxpayers of Regina have already given $6.5 million, which I think was fair.”

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Hawkins said the intent is to provide a stable promise to the Globe, that “the motion on the floor is clear” and comfortable amongst administration.

Zachidniak countered that administration’s willingness to work on the details of a motion “does not mean they are supportive of it.”

“My understanding is the desire is to provide some kind of firm commitment to the Globe, that the funding will be there,” said deputy city manager of financial strategy Barry Lacey.

Zachidniak, Bresciani and Coun. Terina Nelson (Ward 7) voted against the motion, which passed. Couns. Dan LeBlanc (Ward 6) and Landon Mohl (Ward 10) were absent.

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City council had agreed to explore options for the Globe back in January after deferring a $1-million ask as a line item in the 2024 budget.

Returned Wednesday, a report from administration suggested that the city’s already tight budget and dwindling reserves would require the deferral of one if not several planned capital projects to fulfil the plea.

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The city’s General Reserve Fund is projected to dip to $17 million by the end of 2024, per budget spending plans, which is $6 million below the recommended minimum balance.

Administration firmly advised that reserves should “not be used as a funding source” for the Globe, nor should the operating budget be adjusted due to already “limited flexibility.”

The report warns that the city ran on an operating deficit in 2022, and is forecasting the same for 2023 after cutting $2.9 million post-budget last year.

Two other sources from which funds could’ve been redirected include the Facilities Asset Management (FAM) fund, or the Residential Road Renewal Program.

FAM is going to be “well below” its recommended $18 million average based on the current five-year contributions. To take from it would delay maintenance work at several city facilities, including Fire Station #1.

Similarly, sourcing from the road renewal project would mean cancelling an estimated one kilometre in local road projects planned for 2024.

Deputy city manager of city planning Deb Bryden said reallocating from the pathway, meant to be finished in mid-2025, would only move the timeline by a few weeks.

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