Celebrating the Plains
- Published on Wednesday, 04 January 2012 04:44
- Written by Phil Jeffreys
- Hits: 1406
Safeway’s Cathedral future
By Phil Jeffreys
In case you hadn’t noticed, our local supermarket is in the middle of a huge debate in our community. You may not have noticed, because so far there is little external sign of the passionate arguments put up against the proposed changes to the store on 13th Ave.
Pictures of the Safeway development details are on the CACA website at: http://www.cathedralvillage.org/ The Regina City website relates more to the original proposal as of last August, but it has some details and contact information for the Urban Planning Department of the City.. http://regina.ca/residents/urban-planning/development-applications/current-development-applications/
Safeway have presented their plans twice at the Neighbourhood Centre; at an open house in August, and in November. Alterations include windows on the western side, more contrasting brickwork and decorative trim, extra lighting on the eastern side, and room for public art and more vegetation around the sidewalk. The curving marina roof will disappear as most likely will the existing neon sign and the Bob Boyer mural.
Safeway want to improve their store to protect their business and market share. It’s a business after all, and for that we get to buy groceries without having to travel very far. This project will consume $12-13M, so they must see the need for it.
If it doesn’t proceed, they may close and relocate: a veiled threat or an accurate summation, depending on your point of view.
For Safeway, it is about enhancing the Safeway “shopping experience” so we identify with the design, the Starbucks, the dimly-lit interior. I don’t buy it. I just want to shop nearby, buy stuff at a decent price, and sometimes chat with my fellow shoppers and the staff. Coffee is optional.
All contentious issues, addressed at what was a lengthy discussion last month on important aspects to the supermarket redesign.
CACA ran a non-scientific survey on our website, with about 70% of respondents preferring a larger store with more services and products, and better exterior design features. Just 27% prefer the store as it is. The big question is what people consider an improvement, and what they cannot live with, as views differ. What has become clear is that change is about to occur. It’s no small thing for many. It’s their neighbourhood, and they care about it.
The same debate must have happened when the current store was built and the 13th Ave streetscape changed forever. What was new then is now the favoured status quo by many. The retro neon sign is seen as a thing of beauty. Others want an improvement in goods and services that the redesigned store will bring, with an energy-efficient sign.
The plans call for rezoning and all groups must abide by City and provincial by-laws and legislation. Some opine that the application cannot be approved as it doesn’t meet the conditions for rezoning and exemptions of City and provincial legislation. But, the City seems to have been diligent in seeing that the consultation process has been followed and that citizens have their say. (Again, Urban Planning’s contact details are at the webpage given above, if you wish to comment).
Both the City and Safeway, I think, have been surprised at how strident our area has been in pushing for what they believe to be important considerations in the design of the store. No other commercial development has engaged a community with this level of public involvement.
CACA has sought to ensure that construction will not interfere with the 2012 Arts Festival, that it proceed as per the theme, come Rain or Shine. Safeway has assured us the Festival will not be disrupted.
Perhaps the situation can be summed up by the fate of the mural. It is also a thing of beauty, something that makes this neighbourhood what it is. It’s a unique piece of art that does not fit in with the Safeway plan, and cannot be accommodated without $700,000 additional costs to preserve or transfer it to some other location. It’s art, but it also affects the structural integrity of the building and so has to be removed or altered.
As I understand it, the family of Bob Boyer are facing the same dilemma with this mural that many have with the Safeway project. (If I have this wrong, I would dearly like the family to contact me and correct this – I don’t wish to misinterpret their wishes). They want to keep it, to preserve it, to remind them of the past and their memories. But if they can’t keep it intact, then they wish to let it go. Even dismantling and preserving the mural would mean it becomes a replica, not the same artwork as it is today.
CACA has remained neutral throughout the discussion and will remain so. The Association acts as a vehicle for discussion, and has heard many comments for and against the development. This article merely seeks to reflect those contrasting opinions, if you haven’t been able to take part in the discussion so far.
The final result may be inevitable change, but we should ensure that it is a vision that we can live with, that the design is suitable for 13th Ave and our neighbourhood, and that the result is what we can reasonably ask of the planners and commercial interests in our City.
CACA welcomes your comments as we try to represent the views of all concerned. At this stage, the Planning Commission will review the application in January, for presentation to Council in February. If you want to comment on this development, then please contact the City.
The personal views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of the Association or other Board members.