City of Regina: Covid-19 Update

Good afternoon everyone:

We have now received the draft policy from the City of Regina regarding their Covid-19 proof of vaccinations or negative testing policy.

Please be advised that a legal assessment is currently being conducted and we will post our findings and position in the very near future.

Additionally, the policy may change based on the announcements from the Province of Saskatchewan so please bear with us as we navigate this.

Thanks,

Laird Williamson / President

 

City of Regina – Covid-19 Information

In response to the calls and emails regarding the recent covid-19 announcement by the City of Regina, please find below our interim response.

As this communication was only provided to the Union shortly before the public, we acknowledge people have many questions, as do we as the Union. We are currently working with our National Body and Legal Counsel and will be providing an official position on this in the near future.

For your information, we wish to clarify that the City of Regina is not mandating vaccinations.

The information we have at this time is that they are mandating:

  • proof of vaccination.
  • or negative testing for those who elect not to get vaccinated.
  • or are unable to get vaccinated.
  • this is a small but important difference.

At this point we have not been provided a policy on this subject but we are hopeful that we will be given that opportunity prior to implementation.

Please continue to check our website for further information.

We ask for your patience as we navigate this.

Laird Williamson / President 

 

Recreational Regina: A look at the city’s big promises, projects and ambitious dreams

Regina Leader Post

“Are all of these initiatives going to happen overnight? Absolutely not. Whether it’s an aquatic centre, whether it’s a replacement for Brandt, whether it’s a ball diamond — those need to be prioritized.”

From a new indoor aquatic centre promised by Mayor Sandra Masters and a new Wascana Pool on the way to a future rebuild of the Brandt Centre and dreams of a new baseball park, Regina’s list of recreation projects is long and expensive.

To fund it all will take creativity, vision, priority-setting and partnerships, says City Manager Chris Holden.

“Expectations around sport, recreation and culture have increased in the pandemic,” said Holden during an interview last week. “People have been at home. They’ve spent more time outside. They’ve spent more time in their community and the importance of park space, the importance of recreation facilities, seems on top of mind for a lot of folks.”

Here is a look at what projects have recently seen the light of day, what’s in the works and what is still in the dream phase as community members try to rally support — and cash — in order to change the recreational face of Regina.

Pools, pools, pools

During her mayoral campaign last year, Masters committed to the planning, financing, construction, commissioning and opening of a new leisure and competitive aquatic centre.

“It’s been on the list for 10 years,” said Masters in a recent interview. “In some respects you just can’t not start planning for them because you’re never sure when those infrastructure dollars from our other funding partners may be available.

“We have to commit to some of the work for the planning to be ready.”

Indoor aquatics facilities were listed as a priority in the city’s Recreation Master Plan, which was released in January 2019. Holden says a renewed Lawson Aquatic Centre is now in the planning stages, as the city undertakes a feasibility study and the creation of an advisory committee that will include aquatic groups and other stakeholders. One member of the city’s Accessibility Advisory Committee will also be on the committee. The study is expected to be completed in the spring of 2022 and Masters hopes to see construction of the new facility happen within the next two to five years.

The transformation of Wascana Pool into an outdoor aquatic “destination” began this June. The total cost of the project is expected to be $15.75 million, with $12 million from the provincial government through the Municipal Economic Enhancement Program. Holden says the new pool should be open to the public in the summer of 2023.

In June 2021, the Maple Leaf Pool celebrated its grand reopening, the result of a passionate community which wasn’t willing to give it up, a council willing to change its mind on a planned closure, and administration finding a way to make it work. The pool was estimated to cost $5.3 million to rebuild. It was approved through the city’s 2020 capital budget and mostly funded through the one-time Gas Tax Grant. Council approved an additional $880,000 in February 2020.

What else is in the works?

In April 2021, Regina Exhibition Association Limited (REAL), which operates the city-owned facilities at Evraz Place, released the Brandt Centre 2.0 report through its Arena Planning Strategy Committee (APSC). It was the first phase “in a process to develop a strategy for the future of the 44-year-old Brandt Centre.”

According to the report, the cost of a new multi-purpose arena that would meet the needs of the Regina community for the next 50 years is estimated to be approximately $100 million.

The next phase, which was approved by council in April, will include a “comprehensive economic impact assessment,” along with the exploration of potential sites (on and off the grounds at Evraz Place) and the development of a capital and operational model.

“The Brandt Centre is either going to have tens of millions of dollars spent on it (for renovations) … or you’re going to look at a new arena,” said Masters. “If you’re going to look at a new arena — how do you finance it? How do you make it feasible? There’s no question you would need participation from multiple levels of government.”

As part of REAL 2.0, the plan is to turn Evraz Place into a vibrant district that combines city facilities with private investment. The strategy includes the construction of an outdoor multi-use synthetic turf field between AffinityPlex and Mosaic Stadium. Through a phased approach, 5,000 seats would be added to the field, as well as a heated dome structure to allow for year-round practices.

In July, Tim Reid, president and CEO of REAL, estimated that the field would require a $5-million investment, plus $1 million for the dome. At that time, REAL had not yet determined the cost of seating.

A renewal of the Regina Public Library’s central branch is also on the books.

In February 2020, RPL board chair Sean Quinlan said the branch was experiencing several challenges, including a patched roof, boilers on the brink of breakdown, staff working out of the basement and a constant need for more space.

A 2011 feasibility study pegged renewal costs at somewhere between $60 and $70 million. Part of that study explored the idea of an expanded library building combined with several community and commercial partners — including potentially a hotel.

According to a statement on the RPL’s website, work on the renewal slowed down in 2020, as many projects did, due to the pandemic, but it was “starting to pick up speed once again” as of March 2021.

While the pandemic has had an impact on the city’s $100-million loan repayment for Mosaic Stadium, Holden says they are still on track and don’t expect it to directly limit movement on other major projects like those mentioned above.

Field of dreams

In April 2021, the Regina Red Sox and Living Sky Sports revealed concept plans for a new baseball stadium on the Dewdney Avenue rail-yard lands.

For some, the announcement and hype around the proposed diamond might make it seem like a sure thing. While the excitement over the idea is very real, the city says it has made no commitments.

In terms of recreation projects, it’s low on the priority list.

“This is a $20-25 million project,” Holden said. “It’s not a project that right now is in alignment with our Recreation Facility Plan and it’s not a project that would really fit in our recreation partnership program either.”

That’s not to say it isn’t important, he added, and wouldn’t drive economic activity in the city. But many questions remain, like how much money could the city afford to pitch in and where could it actually be built?

The city has had preliminary conversations with the Red Sox and Living Sky and is drafting a letter of intent to be presented to council in September or early October. The letter sets the stage for exploration into the idea, but makes no formal commitments, said Holden.

“We talk(ed) to the Red Sox and kinda (said): ‘Let’s be a little cautious that we’re not getting too far ahead of the process to determine whether we need it, where it will actually be located and what it will cost,’ ” said Holden.

The Red Sox currently have a petition posted on their website asking for signatures in support of a baseball diamond at the rail yards. The organization is also asking residents to show their support by recording a short video or selfie and posting it on social media with the hashtag #stadiumattherailyards, tagging the mayor, city councillors, friends and family.

Show me the money $$$

“Are all of these initiatives going to happen overnight? Absolutely not,” said Holden. “Whether it’s an aquatic centre, whether it’s a replacement for Brandt, whether it’s a ball diamond — those need to be prioritized.”

While some of those projects are moving forward, he said others are realistically going to take five to 10 years to come to fruition.

Timing and creativity are key.

The city is embracing sponsorship, naming rights and advertising more than it ever has and the opportunity to explore private investment to help fund major projects is always there, added Holden.

In 2019, the city undertook a management review which saved $3 million annually after some restructuring. That money now goes into a Recreation/Culture Capital Program every year.

The city also established a five-year dedicated mill rate increase to help fund recreation infrastructure, which Holden says helps the city start to make investments or put funds aside for important projects.

Regina could look at taking on more debt to fund some of the projects, but Holden says administration would caution council not to jeopardize the city’s current AAA debt rating.

“When you look at the useful life left on these (facilities), if we don’t come up with a plan, we will be spending millions to try and keep them open,” said Masters. “Proper planning, proper sequencing of the investment, proper placement and then those partnerships we’re going to look to, all those things have to be worked on over the course of time and so I’m excited about planning for them.”

While the list of projects is an exciting one, Masters said Regina is still playing catchup when it comes to recreational infrastructure. The city hasn’t invested substantially in the Lawson, the Brandt Centre, the library or a ball diamond since the ’70s, she said, making all these projects due at the same time.

The city is also not in a position to be all things to all people, emphasized Holden. But the list of recreation projects — or their priority order — is subject to change if the will of council does. Council could have a different perspective on Regina’s recreational needs since its members are the ones talking to residents.

“Fundamentally, at the end of the day, if we don’t get help on it, then that’s going to be a matter of, ‘Well, it’s probably not within the city’s means to do on our own,’ ” said Masters. “But to do proper planning and to do proper sequencing of infrastructure investment that would allow us to get ready for those projects, that’s important. That’s our job.”

 

 

Member Cultural Survey

Hello Everyone:

RE:          Member Cultural Survey

In fall of 2019 your Union began asking some very hard questions about culture within the City of Regina. These questions and discussions led to starting committee work with the City of Regina and further details surrounding that work will be released at a later date.

Part of our plan involves acquiring a very frank assessment of the climate that our members live in every day. There are conclusions we can draw from what we observe, but knowing and hearing from our members will always be the best approach.

You are invited to participate in an anonymous Culture Survey.

Your feedback, good or bad, is paramount to our continued improvement plan and ensuring that the City of Regina is fostering an environment that supports not only the physical health, but also the psychological safety of our members.

If you wish to participate in this survey the following information is required:

  1. Your first and last name.
  2. Your City of Regina employee ID#.
  3. The preferred email address you wish to have the link sent to.
  4. Please send the required information to: cupe.local21@sasktel.net with the RE: line “survey”.

We encourage you to participate in this cultural survey.

Your identity will not be shared with anyone.

Those who register will be entitled to receive a gift card for Tim Horton’s as a way to show our appreciation for your feedback.

We ask that you register by: 20 September 2021 to be eligible to participate.

Some of these topics may be difficult or triggering for some. If you experience adverse reactions from it, please seek support to help you through it.

In solidarity,

Laird Williamson / President

 /lw/wz

PDF for circulation:     Member Cultural Survey

Employee Guide – COVID-19

Please take a moment to read this guide and feel free to share it with your co-workers. This guide will be updated regularly to ensure you have the most up to date information.

For more employee information visit CityConnect. For health information visit the Ministry of Health website.

Novel Coronavirus will be referred to as COVID-19 throughout this guide.

https://www.regina.ca/export/sites/Regina.ca/about-regina/job-opportunities/.galleries/pdfs/COVID19-Employee-Guide.pdf

Phase 2 of Vaccine Delivery Plan Launches – Special Vaccination Leave Introduced

Released on March 18, 2021

Today, the Government of Saskatchewan announced the launch of Phase 2 of the Vaccine Delivery Plan with the introduction of booking eligibility online and by phone for residents 67 years and older.

Effective at 12:00 PM on Thursday, March 18, eligibility for the online and phone-in booking system is expanded to the 67 years and older age group and those considered clinically extremely vulnerable.

Phase 2 also includes select congregate living settings such as group homes for persons with intellectual disabilities and emergency shelters.  The expansion comes earlier than anticipated and is due to the rapid and successful rollout of COVID-19 vaccinations through the Saskatchewan Health Authority’s vaccine booking system.

Anyone who is 67 years old as of March 18, 2021, can go online to book an appointment at www.saskatchewan.ca/covid19-vaccine.  You will need a Saskatchewan health services card and an email or cell phone in order to receive notification reminders of the appointment.  Those without email or cell phones can call 1-833-Sask-Vax (727-5829).

“The implementation of the online and telephone appointment booking system has enabled the rapid deployment of vaccinations across the province,” Health Minister Paul Merriman said.  “This move into Phase 2 is ahead of the anticipated schedule but with the vaccine and the ability to move forward swiftly we do not want to delay.  This achievement is great news for our residents and our province as every vaccination delivered brings us one day closer to returning to normal.”

While the eligibility categories have broadened into the Phase 2 recommendations, vaccinations and eligibility for individuals identified in Phase 1 will continue until completed.  This includes completing all first and second doses for long-term care and personal care home residents and staff.

As more vaccine becomes available in the coming weeks, clinics will be expanding across the province.

Individuals who may be considered clinically extremely vulnerable will receive a letter with instructions for booking appointments.  A complete list of clinically extremely vulnerable conditions is available at www.saskatchewan.ca/covid19.

“We continue to be a leader in Canada at getting vaccines into arms quickly and safely,” Saskatchewan Health Authority CEO Scott Livingstone said.  “Achieving this milestone ahead of schedule is a reminder for us to celebrate and thank the health care workers who are working long hours to make this possible.”

Special Vaccination Leave Introduced

The Government of Saskatchewan has also amended The Occupational Health and Safety Regulations, 2020 to allow for paid time off from work for an employee to get vaccinated for COVID-19 and are effective immediately.  Special Vaccination Leave is similar to provisions allowing residents to vote during a general election.

The new section 6-22.1, Special Vaccination Leave, establishes that during the pandemic:

  • Workers are entitled to three consecutive hours leave during work hours to receive a COVID-19 vaccination.
  • Workers are entitled to more than three consecutive hours if the employer determines the circumstances warrant a longer break from work.
  • Workers do not lose any pay or other benefits while receiving a COVID-19 vaccination.

“We want to ensure that everyone in the province gets vaccinated,” Labour Relations and Workplace Safety Minister Don Morgan said.  “The amendment today ensures workers also have paid time off during the work hours to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.”

The new regulation comes into force on March 18, 2021.

Faces of Pine Lodge: former clients say it saved their lives

Several people who have struggled with addictions credit Pine Lodge Treatment Centre with saving their lives.

Author of the article: Heather Polischuk Publishing date: Mar 13, 2021/ Leader Post

Pine Lodge Treatment Centre’s Indian Head facility was badly damaged by fire in December, triggering both a search for a new site and debate over its proposed location.

The issue of allowing an addictions centre as a permitted use on the site of the former Prairie Christian Training Centre is slated to return to Fort San village council on Tuesday.

As the future of Pine Lodge hangs in the balance, they credit the program with not only changing their lives but saving them.

Peter Nokonechny

With nearly nine years of sobriety under his belt, Peter Nokonechny choked up for a moment as he talked about Pine Lodge. “It was the hardest time of my life and the best time of my life,” he said.

Nokonechny didn’t mince words about the state his life was in prior to treatment.

“On paper, I had all the things you’re supposed to have — a wife and two beautiful young daughters, a house and garage and cars and a good job and all that stuff,” he said. “But 30 years of drinking had taken its toll.”

Around the one-year anniversary of his mother’s death, he hit bottom. That was in 2012, the year he finally decided to ask for help. He entered the 28-day treatment program at Pine Lodge with trepidation but knowing he needed to confront his illness.

“Pine Lodge saved my life, for sure,” he said. “In the first couple of weeks it convinced me — they beat it into my head — that this was a disease, that I was not a bad person, I was just a sick person.”

Nokonechny said it gave him a basic set of tools he’s been able to use in his long-term recovery ever since. He sees his life now as a “miracle” compared to where he and his family once were.

He’s since joined the ranks of former clients who return to talk to new clients, to provide hope they too can get better. Nokonechny said Pine Lodge detractors don’t have a good understanding of the centre, its residents or its benefits, and he would like that to change. He noted clients were treated very well in Indian Head.

“There was no moment in time where I felt looked down upon or felt ashamed to be walking around in that community,” he said.

“Gary”

“Gary” — who requested anonymity — said some people continue to have misconceptions about what the disease of addiction looks like. “We have a misperception out there, a stigma that an alcoholic is a guy with a brown paper bag sitting on a bench with a two-dollar bottle of wine,” he said. “Well, that’s not the case.”

Gary calls his time at the centre “the hardest 28 days of my life.” He admits to being terrified and having his “butt kicked” by the program, but said it ultimately saved him.

Prior to entering Pine Lodge in 2016, his life was, in his words, “chaos.” Alcohol ran his life and hit his family as hard as it hit him, culminating in his wife of 40 years asking him to move out.

An addiction counsellor was eventually able to get him into Pine Lodge, where he learned about the disease and developed tools to cope.

He said staff were far from lenient. Rule-breaking got you kicked out. Like others, he buckled down and took in everything he could, enabling him to move forward with his life in a positive way.

Gary said the “not in my backyard” attitude some people show regarding treatment centres doesn’t come from a place of understanding of the people or issues.

“I was a sick person trying to get better,” he said.

Dave Kilbach

During his time at Pine Lodge 16 years ago and ever since, Dave Kilbach has met numerous others who shared his illness.

“I’ve met people that have gone through treatment facilities — they’re doctors, they’re lawyers, they’re dentists, they’re nurses, they’re police officers, there’s firemen,” said Kilbach, a contractor by trade. “I even met a pastor in the program. It’s not that we’re bad people. We’re people with a disease of alcoholism or drugism.”

Kilbach — who, tongue in cheek, said his new addictions are to fishing and hunting — said those attending programs like Pine Lodge aren’t what some believe. While some clients have criminal histories, many don’t. Different backgrounds, genders, races, economic situations, levels of employment and education — this is what Kilbach has observed of those attending treatment centres.

What they have in common is a desire to get better, he said.

“The people that go through Pine Lodge could be your brother, your sister, your mom, dad, your aunt, uncle, your niece, nephew, your daughter, son,” Kilbach said. “Those are the type of people that go through Pine Lodge … It’s just normal everyday people.”

Harvey F.

As a born and bred “farm boy,” Harvey F. — who did not wish to use his last name — said he grew up around alcoholism. It was a disease that eventually came to plague him until he found Pine Lodge.

A professional engineer, he was working for a Crown corporation when his employer confronted him about his problem. While his illness never resulted in job loss, missed mortgage payments or impaired driving charges, it did come close to costing him his marriage.

He began confronting his addiction and entered treatment at Pine Lodge in 1990. “It was absolutely scary, but it was absolutely liberating because for the first time ever, I really felt hope,” he said.

Harvey compared addictions treatment and ongoing recovery work to building and maintaining a house. Pine Lodge provided the foundation. Ongoing use of recovery tools and programming — which he still uses — provided the walls and roof that have continued to shelter him.

Pine Lodge was intensive because it needed to be, breaking through the barriers he — like others suffering from addiction — have built within and around themselves. But, he added, it then served to build them back up.

“I’ve been sober for over 30 years,” he said.

He would like people to understand those with this disease come from all walks of life and most are not the stereotypes some seem to think.

“These are really good people just trying to get better,” he said.

hpolischuk@postmedia.com