Q&A with Mayoral Candidates

HCA reached out to all candidates to invite them to participate in this Q&A. We are grateful to those who chose to engage with our community in this way. We asked all candidates for a couple of sentences per question. In our print newsletter, some responses were shortened due to space limitations; here, all responses are shared in full. We have not edited anything except formatting, nor have we fact-checked these responses.

Regina is in the middle of an overdose crisis. Do you support the establishment of a supervised injection site in Regina?

Bradley: I think that we could transform these into supervised injection/rehab centres and possibly ween addicts off of the drugs. Have help available to possibly get them off of said drug, and turn their life around.

Elliott: The supervised injection site would clearly be at the top of my response list. That does entail a support system to deal with the needs of those addicted.

Fiacco: We know that there needs to be a support system for addictions. What that will look like depends on the support we get from the federal and provincial governments.

Flegel: Yes I do support the establishment of a supervised injection site in Regina. I have met personally with the organization in Saskatoon that is overseeing their injection site pilot project and although the results from that particular program are still not documented, statistics from other jurisdictions consistently demonstrated a number of benefits including a decrease in needle sharing which lessened the spread of diseases and decreased overdoses resulting in death. As well, the program proved to be cost effective for the health care system, and there where less people using drugs in public which resulted in less drug equipment being discarded into the streets. 

Fougere: We would welcome the discussion as the overdose crisis is a serious concern but ultimately it is a provincial responsibility.

Howse: Yes, I do. After being invited out by Ms. Patty Will at Queen City Patrol to pick up needles and other drug paraphernalia in the alleys of Regina and seeing first hand the seriousness of the situation in addition to receiving expert knowledge on the drug epidemic, I do believe a supervised injection site in Regina is warranted. However, the city taxpayer can not go at it alone. It needs the right kind of partnership between the Government of Saskatchewan and private organizations such as private charities, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) including religious groups and private individuals.

Masters: Harm reduction is an important part of a safety strategy for Regina. We need to be proactive in our approach and better use all the services available to help our most vulnerable. We also need to be collaborative across all levels of governments – we will be more successful if we work together to address some of our most pressing issues. I believe an improved relationship with the provincial government would help us address issues such as this. To that end, I would support the community in establishing a supervised injection site. 

Wooldridge: Yes I do. We need to have harm reduction and treat addiction as a health matter. 

Our neighbourhood and our city are experiencing frighteningly high levels of homelessness right now. Do you support investing municipal funds into the Plan to End Homelessness?

Bradley: Yes. One would have to look at how cities like Medicine Hat attacked their problem. It’s being done to some capacity around the country, how are we not doing it here?

Elliott: Yes. I believe the way to end homelessness is less costly than the current plan and the use of municipal funds can be found from reduced demands for other costly programs and services.

Fiacco: Homelessness is a federal and provincial responsibility. We will be engaging the federal and provincial governments, plus non-governmental organizations, to deal with mental health, addictions, homelessness and poverty.

Flegel: The current strategy has done little to assist the residents in need and is clearly not effective. We do have several organizations wanting partner with the City of Regina and different levels invest money in affordable housing to assist in addressing the homelessness problem. This is one of my main priorities which is included in my Renew Regina plan. 

Fougere: Absolutely. Since 2016, Regina has invested $16 million in housing projects to reduce homelessness and built 588 affordable housing units. We are moving forward with the “Everyone is Home” plan while we seek support from the province and federal government to see this vision realized. My view is when people have a home it will help them to recover from mental health and addictions issues and I strongly support help for that. Homelessness and affordable housing continue to be a key priority for me.

Howse: The City of Regina participates in funding the Regina Housing Authority. A major part of my campaign is to activate community involvement; therefore, I would also ask individuals, families, communities, charities and NGOs for help in meeting the demand for the truly homeless with out city. As the city taxpayer can not fund it all.

Masters: I have already committed to creating an anti-poverty strategy within one year of being elected. Homelessness is a key element of poverty and one that must be addressed as part of the overall strategy. It is difficult to address any one element on it’s own when there are so many factors that contribute to homelessness.  

Considerable consultations regarding the creation of an anti-poverty strategy have already taken place, but like so many things that pass through the office of the Mayor, action has stalled and our communities are left holding the pieces. I believe as a City we need a plan to address these issues, to help build a safe community. Funding the Plan to End Homelessness would be considered as part of the overall plan to build a safe community. 

Wooldridge: Yes! We need to address homelessness now not tomorrow!   As mayor I would cut my own salary by 30% and reinvest the savings in front line city services including a real plan to end homelessness.   

The pandemic has highlighted how important parks and recreation spaces are to our community’s well-being. Do you support investment in improving and expanding parks and recreation spaces in Regina’s inner city?

Bradley: I support investing in parks and recreation spaces all around Regina, not just the inner city. We need to focus on our kids’ health and happiness, and parks and recreation spaces are a part of this focus.

Elliott: Yes. Parks and recreation spaces are especially valuable when one does not have the resources to go to other places. The current proportion of parks to residents is too low and needs to be raised.

Fiacco: As mayor I’ll initiate the development of a long-term recreation strategy that meets the needs of every community. No on should have to drive far to access a facility for Recreation.

Flegel: Yes. Having access to recreation and green spaces is vital to mental and physical health of the residents of Regina. For example, my housing initiative for the Taylor field site incorporates park space into the affordable housing complex planned for that area. Which blend to make the community stronger. I have supported these types of initiatives when they have come forward to Council in the past. However, unfortunately to date, none have passed. With the pandemic upon us, now more than ever, we need to look after the mental and physical health of our citizens. 

Fougere: I do and have supported many such initiatives in the past and will again going forward.

Howse: I support improvements in parks and recreation spaces from other sources than the city taxpayers at this time. If private individuals, families, communities, charities and/or NGOs want to donate their time or resources for improvements in such spaces I would accept that support. However, as Mayor, I have to be careful how I allocate the taxpayer’s dollars and at this time. I would not spend on expansion but on maintenance. I would say we have a wonderful park system as it currently is.

Masters: Absolutely. All of our citizens deserve access to green space, and our youth need to have the opportunity to be kids and have places to focus positive energy. My platform includes enhancing existing cultural and recreational facilities, including a new downtown library and multi-use cultural facility to replace the current facility within 10-years and a new aquatic facility.  

Wooldridge: Yes! We must make our city a vibrant place to live and look after all of our citizens!

What ideas do you have to prevent crime and improve safety in our city?

Bradley: I plan on working with them closely so that our streets are safer, by adding mental health and addictions support so they can continue to do their job at the capacity that they do it.  I am very happy with the job they are doing and I believe the public is as well.

Elliott: Combining ending homelessness, more affordable housing, education and training and efforts to engage residents in the collective need for residents to step forward would go a long way to getting people off of the street who need good housing and move those in need to positions of providing support for others. This combined with more eyes on the street will rebuild community. This should prevent crime and improve safety.

Fiacco: I support working with Police Chief Evan Bray and the federal and provincial governments to increase the Police and Crisis Team (PACT) from its current number of two officers paired with a mental health/addictions worker. PACT is currently available to respond to calls or advise other officers seven days a week, but only during the daytime shift. Evidence suggests it should be expanded to provide coverage 24-7.

Flegel: We need to develop a strategy that ensures we utilize every resource available to us as a community. This includes the Regina Police Service (RPS) partnering with other levels of government, to access resources and allocates funds to meet the specific needs of residents. We need to focus particularly on mental health and substance abuse issues, which we know are major contributing factors to the overall level of crime. 

Fougere: Our first priority, in the near future, must be safety regarding COVID-19. Regina residents and city administration have done an excellent job in having one of the lowest infection rates in Canada. But we must remain vigilant in stopping the spread and follow the proper public health safety guidelines to avoid a second wave.

More proactive and community policing is also critical. We’ve made much progress in that regard with more work to do.

I also support strong, stable funding for our police and firefighters to ensure they have the best training and equipment to keep our city safe. 

In the longer term, we need a holistic approach to safety as we know crime is caused by a host of issues, including lack of education, addictions, family conflict and mental health. Solving those issues is a critical crime prevention strategy.

The plan to end homelessness, for example, is also an important crime prevention strategy. The housing first approach gives an individual permanent, stable housing, then provides wrap-around services to meet the pressing needs of the individual.

The support includes mental health or addiction services that are so vital to individual wellbeing and reducing poverty and crime across the city.

Howse: Firstly, my plan is to tackle drug addiction starting with the youth through drug-effects education. ADDICTION often leads to CRIME. Secondly, my plan is to closely work with the Regina Police Service (RPS). I have offered to do a 5-night ride along with the RPS in order to gain a more accurate real-world understanding of the situation here in Regina. Thirdly, activation of community through strengthening groups as the Neighbourhood Watch is key too. Regina-ians deserve to be safe from the harmful effects of drug, gang and illegal gun related crime/violence.

Masters: Building a safe city is one of the pillars of my platform. Every resident deserves to feel safe in their community. Reducing crime and creating a safe community does not fall to the Regina Police Service alone. We need to work together as a community to build a safe community. As Mayor I will: Support the Regina Police Service and make sure they are properly funded and have the resources they need; Work with the provincial government and community groups to help prioritize needs and deliver resources in the most efficient way possible; Improve race relations and move to action on the recommendations from the TRC.

Wooldridge: Address the issues of poverty, addiction and social exclusion. Enhance and support community based endeavors to make our city safer and more inclusive. Give every citizen the ability to become a success!

We are in the midst of a global and local reckoning around racism, colonialism and policing. How do you define “defund police?” Do you believe police budgets should be cut in Regina – yes or no? Why?

Bradley: Defunding the police is defined as reallocating or redirecting money away from a police budget. 

No, I do not. I believe that the funding could be found in other areas to be moved for support of the RPS. If you start taking away funds from the RPS budget, then you directly affect the very portions of the force that keep us safe!

Elliott: We as a community must define what an appropriate response is and today, the police tend to be that default option. We must move away from this approach and fund others to take on those roles and limit the police response to emergencies, ongoing investigations and crimes in progress. This will necessitate a reduction in police budgets and a redeployment of resources to community services and organizations.

Fiacco: Defunding the police to me means reducing the police budget and reallocating those funds to other City of Regina programming.

No, I do not believe the police budget in Regina should be cut because we have heard in many of the city’s wards that crime and safety are major issues. We also know that Regina Police Service was budgeted 20 per cent of city funds in 2020, down from 21 per cent in 2012.

Flegel: My strategy as it relates to defunding the police would be to ensure both human and financial resources are allocated where they are most crucial. There is a need to expand on resources that are currently in place. Prior to Covid I was consulting with the Provincial Government to find avenues to shift some of the work-load from RPS Officers to Social Services case workers and counselling staff. As a result of the pandemic, this process has been put on-hold. 

No. I believe the police budget should be increased to facilitate the hiring of additional resources. I put forward a motion in December of 2019 requesting that the RPS Budget be increased in order to hire more officers. That motion was defeated. Statistics show that on a per-capita basis, we are well below the national average when it comes to officers on the street and our crime rate reflects this shortage of resources. Early in the pandemic, School Resources Officers were reassigned to regular community policing. As a result, RPS saw a vast reduction in absenteeism including physical illness and mental stress leave, again this is a clear indication that RPS requires more staff, 

Fougere: Diverting funds from our city police into non-policing forms of community support.

No, the expectations of our women and men in uniform are greater than ever, and we need strong, stable funding so they have the proper training and equipment to serve our people well and keep them safe.

Masters: Police play an important role in our community spanning from education, proactive harm reduction and enforcement. I don’t think we can say that police do or do not belong in schools. They are an important part of our community. My hope is to build a community where police do not have to be in schools from an enforcement perspective, however, I will fully support them being there to keep our teachers and children safe if necessary. 

De-funding the police is not an option. We rely on the Regina Public Service in many ways, and I do not believe that defunding the police is a solution to racism or some of the other challenges our city faces. I am committed to continue supporting the RPS and working with them to ensure they have the resources they need. We need to focus more on proactive services, reducing harm and community engagement. 

Howse: ‘Defund’ is a verb. It means ‘prevent from continuing to receive funds or continuing to receive funds.’ ‘Police’ is a noun. It means (i) ‘the civil force of a national or local government, responsible for the prevention and detection of crime and the maintenance of public order; and, (ii) an organization engaged in the enforcement of official regulations in a specified domain.’

Not at this time should the Regina Police Service (RPS) budget be cut or defunded. I plan, however, to do a city-wide budge freeze in all departments until I, and my administration, obtain a better understanding of the financial situation our city faces currently. I don’t believe there is systemic racism within the RPS based on personal observation and testimony from others. I live in North Central. If racism were systemic it would need addressing and reforming for I believe in individual liberty and all being equal under the law. However, if there were individual cases of accused assault, battery, harassment, etc., at the hands of the RPS I see using the legal system to sue them as a viable option to restore civil liberties and individual rights.

Wooldridge: I believe we should have a city wide plebiscite on the future of the RPS with at least 3 options on the table including: Defunding; Decentralising and becoming a community based force; Empowering citizen oversight of the police on a much more rigorous level 

I believe we need to closely examine police expenditures and reduce capital purchases. The RPS does not need to duplicate the resources the RCMP have in Regina for example. The RPS should work more closely with the RCMP and share resources where feasible.

Do you support phased-in, fare-free public transit, as part of the City’s move toward 100% renewable energy by 2050?

Bradley: I don’t think this is viable on a full-time basis, especially if we have to expand the transit system in some capacity, but it seems to work for events like the football game, etc. so it would definitely be something I would have to look at.

Elliott: In order to change behavior and move residents from their private vehicle to transit, it has to be the best choice. Fare-free public transit and paratransit needs to be our end game. Children and seniors would be the first two phases.

Fiacco: No, because users should pay a portion of the service accommodating them and because fare revenue is required to help cover the transit budget.

Flegel: I support an income-based transit fare policy. Residents would complete and submit an application for a transit pass. An assessment would then be conducted and the resident would be charged a rate based on their ability to pay (Zero being the minimum fee, with a maximum to be determined, following a program review). 

Fougere: No, public transit is already heavily subsidized with additional support for vulnerable individuals who need access to transit. To do more is too large a burden to place on our taxpayers.

Howse: I support free transit; but, in reality nothing is “free” so it can only be done if either the taxpayer or the transit rider pays. I believe those who ride should pay for their own ticket; the public transit system is not profitable as it is, and, the taxpayer is overburdened.

Masters: I support having an efficient transit system that meets the needs of our community and I think we need to find a way to increase the usage of our transit system. While I don’t think a fare-free system is sustainable, I do support preferential or tiered rates for different clients. Transit cannot be everything to everyone, but it’s proven to be very important to new Canadians, seniors, students, low income citizens for access to their work and community. In the short term, we should focus on who needs it.

Wooldridge: YES! I have been an advocate for improved public transport for Regina for 2 decades and I support phased in fare free transit in addition to major improvements to the system including greater frequency and service to the airport.

Do you support stronger enforcement of health and safety standards of rental properties?

Bradley: As far as the Minimum Housing and Health Standards go, I think these are great standards and are enforced to the best of my knowledge. Could a review be done in order to improve them? Yes, definitely,  as is anything. 

Elliott: Yes. But this enforcement has to be coupled with immediate support for the tenant and a concerted effort of building more affordable non-profit rental properties. This new housing needs to be on community trust lands and taken out of the commercial market.

Fiacco: Public Health Authorities currently have jurisdiction to enforce the condition of living accommodations in rental properties. This issue demands proper research and discussion by city council to reach an effective and widely supported solution.

Flegel: Yes. Municipal government needs to take an active roll in housing and housing standards across the board. The City of Regina needs to work with other levels of government (Saskatchewan Rentalsmen) and landlords to ensure we can meet requirements. As mentioned above, I have also proposed a plan for additional affordable housing on the Taylor Field Site, which would increase the amount of safe affordable housing available to the Community. 

Fougere: Yes, and we work with our community partners including police, fire and more to enforce proper housing standards. The relations between landlord and tenant are ultimately the responsibility of the provincial government.

Howse: Yes, I do support stronger enforcement of health and safety standards as to rental properties. The question is by whom? I would leave the details to the tenants and landlords to agree on and contract between themselves. There are currently fire and other safety regulations on the books and a whole provincial Act, The Residential Tenancies Act, solely dedicated to rental properties.

Masters: I believe that all rental properties should follow the City of Regina’s fire and safety regulations and the city needs to have the resources to properly enforce the regulations.

Wooldridge: Yes.

Do you support improvements to pedestrian and cyclist infrastructure such as sidewalks, pathways, green space and bike lanes?

Bradley: Yes.

Elliott: More bike lanes need to be built to provide an effective alternate to automobile travel. Green space corridors and parks along the way provide additional benefits. All neighbourhoods need sidewalk corridors to allow for ease of pedestrian travel within communities and to businesses.

Fiacco: Each of these items will be reviewed during the development of a long-term plan for recreation.

Flegel: Yes. Pathways, green space and bike lanes along with recreational facilities are essential to the physical and mental health of the residents of Regina. 

Fougere: I do, and I have supported many such initiatives in the past and will continue to do so.

Howse: Yes, I support it. Anything can be improved upon. I cycle myself and feel such infrastructure is fairly decent as is within the city. Though the City of Regina could come up with a program, such as adopt-a-sidewalk type, to encourage the private sector to help support such infrastructure improvements. As my goal is to lower property taxes and spend the taxpayer’s dollars more wisely.

Masters: Absolutely. I agree that our sidewalks and pathways are in need of repair and this needs to be addressed through better city planning and spending. I also agree that it is important to have spaces where our children can play and socialize. These are all part of building a safe and healthy community. I am committed to developing a plan to further connect our city pathways and way-finding so citizens can be connected to all areas of Regina.

Wooldridge: Absolutely!!!   Our current situation is untenable and unworkable in the long term.   Let’s take action together citizens and council!