Remember this? The plan for a new downtown library/hotel complex that was accidentally leaked to the internet?
And remember how upset everybody got — everybody, including Regina’s Masons — because this plan so blithely includes the demolition of the historic masonic temple?
Well, apparently, going back to the drawing board means formally (as opposed to notionally) negotiating with the masons for the sale of their temple, presumably so they’ll be free to tear it down/move it/incorporate it, Borglike, into the library building.
That the RPL is in active negotiations to buy the mason land was revealed at the RPL board meeting last night (which I didn’t attend but received this info from someone who did). And I find that pretty funny because I just interviewed RPL board chair, Darlene Hincks-Joehnck, a few weeks ago and asked her specifically if there was anything to report on the downtown branch. And she assured me that absolutely nothing was decided and there was nothing to report at this time.
Call me crazy but, considering all that went on in the summer, I’d say negotiating to buy the mason land is pretty damn newsworthy.
And what do you want to bet that the architectural plans that will be formally proposed once that sale is finalized will look suspiciously like the one above?
So, considering there are also plans afoot to tear down the Gordon Block and with our recently-opened downtown plaza looking like it was designed to accent the architectural character of a Soviet housing project, it makes me wonder, doesn’t anyone give a shit about the Victoria Park Heritage Conservation District?
That bylaw is supposed to protect the heritage character of our downtown; and, buildings like the Gordon Block, the masonic temple and the current library building are specifically protected from demolition or extensive alteration. (Everyone keeps saying they’re not actual heritage buildings. True. But under the provincial Heritage Act, buildings in a conservation district have the same protections from demolition as a heritage building.) And yet, this doesn’t seem to deter anyone from planning to bulldoze the downtown to put up whateverthefuck.
And, on the library front, we’ve been repeatedly told that the redesign of the downtown branch will be done in an open manner and involve lots of public consultation.
Well, as far as I can tell, this has so far been conducted in a very closed manner involving very little public consultation and I’m this: |<—->| close to formally (as opposed to notionally) calling bullshit on the RPL board’s claims that this will improve.
Incidentally, for those who’re interested, Shane, Aidan and I discussed the library redesign summer schlmozzle in some detail on the p-dog podcast back in June. It includes several audio clips of RPL board chair, Darlene Hincks-Joehnck, at a post-council scrum discussing the project. Have a listen here.
And, confidential to Whitworth: you should not construe my writing of this post as evidence that I’m back in Regina.