‘We have a great city:’ Regina organizations look to bring people downtown
Regina tries to lure people into the downtown core.
That idea took center stage during a City Building Speaker Luncheon, part of a series hosted by the Regina & District Chamber of Commerce, Regina’s Warehouse Business Improvement District, and the Regina Downtown Business Improvement District (RDBID).
The groups are lobbying for the City of Regina to build a new multi-purpose convention center and library branch downtown.
Tim Tompkins, former chairman of the International Downtown Association, addressed members of the Regina business community at the Hotel Saskatchewan.
Tompkins helped revitalize Times Square in New York City, a movement that has been underway for 20 years.
During the presentation, he said that thriving arts, culture and economy will attract people to the city center.
He said that while Regina basically has some great things about downtown, there are also some things to work on.
Tompkins said Regina needs some target drivers like the library and the events center.
“These can be things that primarily attract people from the surrounding areas outside of Regina, but they can also attract people from across the province and across the country,” he said.
“It gives people a reason to come and then there’s a great synergy between a growing resident population.”
He also explained how downtown Regina can attract people.
“Half of it is just celebrating what you have. This is a place with great bones, a great history and an enthusiastic group of people, entrepreneurs and creators who want to make a difference,” Tompkins said.
He explained the other part is to keep building cultural programs and celebrating assets.
Tompkins also explained what people can do when challenges such as litter and graffiti arise in the city.
With things like graffiti, it is important to react immediately.
“If you leave it alone, there will be more graffiti, more graffiti and more graffiti. If you get rid of it the next day and do it 10 times in a row, the person with the spray can will say, ‘This doesn’t work for me,'” Tompkins said.
RDBID officials said over lunch that they would like to see downtown and community reinvestment.
According to Executive Director Judith Veresuk, because of these arenas, there may be a boost to seeing similar things happen in other cities like Moncton and Halifax for the World Junior Hockey Championships.
“These are things that we can definitely reproduce — that excitement, that buzz, that vibrancy in the downtown areas that we all saw in these images,” she said.
Veresuk added the city needs to work together to make people want to be downtown.
Meanwhile, Tony Playter – the CEO of the Regina & District Chamber of Commerce – said one way to get people downtown is to improve on what’s already available.
“The city, the Downtown District and the Warehouse District are doing a really good job of creating opportunities and events to draw people downtown,” he said.
“We can continue to grow downtown with small projects while we prepare to build these larger projects.”
He also said that he learned an important thing during the presentation.
“We have a great city and sometimes I think we forget that, all the amazing things that we have everywhere, not just downtown but all over the city,” Playter said.
He also explained why now is a good time to focus on downtown.
“It’s time to introduce Regina. We’re a great city that has a lot to offer people on many levels and it’s time to start now,” he said.