Dear members,Lately, we’ve seen a lot of media coverage about a building in the park. Our partnership with the University of Regina is so much more than that. This dedicated web page is our way of giving you the opportunity to understand the request we responded to and why we couldn’t stand by and watch an historic facility fall.
Here’s our story. Like everything we do, we’ve taken on this project with the intention of helping Saskatchewan thrive for the long-term. We believe it’s good news for our credit union, our community and our province. We welcome your questions and comments throughout the process.
Supporting the university’s planWe’re proud to support the University of Regina’s number one capital fundraising priority by contributing to the College Avenue Campus renewal project. We believe that 80 years of partnering and investing in Regina and other Saskatchewan communities make Conexus a natural fit for the project. It’s an opportunity to put our co-operative principles to work while making a meaningful difference in the community by supporting the university’s plan to turn the campus into an educational and cultural hub for the city.
Because Wascana Centre is important to Regina and its residents, the project is attracting a lot of attention. We know that some actively oppose the project. They’re passionate about wanting Wascana Park to remain unchanged. We’re just as passionate about supporting the restoration of this heritage facility and what it will mean for future generations.
- In January 2016 the university issued an open request for proposals seeking development partners to support its College Avenue Campus renewal project. The RFP specifically sought proposals for development on one of three parcels of land identified for potential future development.
- As a community-builder with a strong history of supporting education, arts and culture, we saw this as an opportunity to meet our need for space while supporting a project that will make a meaningful impact. The proposed head office building would bring together about 200 Regina-based employees who now work in six different locations around the city.
- June 8, 2016, the University of Regina and Conexus Credit Union announced our partnership in the College Avenue Campus renewal project. Conexus will contribute up to $8.25 million to the project and build its head office on a 2.6 acre parcel of land leased from the university.
- The land is west of Darke Hall on the very edge of Wascana Centre, and was previously designated for future development by the Wascana Centre Master Plan. Our contribution to the project includes $3.25 million for leasing the land. The building will be turned over to the university when our 90-year lease expires.
- Conexus is making a contribution of up to $8.25 million to the university’s College Avenue Campus renewal project. The money will be used to help preserve the heritage architecture of the College Building, ensuring it remains available to provide important programming to thousands of children, adults and seniors each year.
- By building next to Darke Hall, Conexus is also helping the university save millions and enabling improvements that will preserve that building as a heritage performance space while bringing its systems and structures up to today’s standards and codes. This includes the creation of an atrium, improved accessibility, and shared technology and heating systems, which will significantly reduce the overall cost, saving Darke Hall for the university and for the citizens of Regina.
- We've received approval to construct a building on College Avenue west of Darke Hall to house 200 of our corporate services staff. The building has yet to be designed and will conform to all required guidelines for building in the park.
- Our building will include a business incubator focused on supporting entrepreneurship and small business owners with education, financial advice, networking resources, technical services and more. The incubator might also act as a working lab for students, providing an environment for research and projects.
- We've contracted a project manager to co-ordinate the development of the building design. We recognize the historic significance of the campus and will ensure we follow the guidelines:
On a day-to-day basis, you won’t notice much difference. The new building won’t be a branch serving members, but it will help us live up to our strategic plan to become an efficient and productive world-class organization. We’re building an office space that will allow us to bring 200 of our corporate services staff under one roof. This change will help us work more efficiently and effectively, which is something that will benefit all members in the long run. We believe it will:
- result in a highly engaged staff delivering focused and relevant products and services that meet the needs of our members
- help us retain and attract the world-class, expert employees we need to keep pace with our members’ growing needs into the future
- help us gain efficiencies in office space and reduce intercity travel between multiple locations
Why do you need a new head office?
We lease or own almost 80,000 square feet of office space in six different locations in Regina. Over the last several years, we’ve looked for ways to consolidate our administrative office space to help us work more efficiently and effectively. During our search, we considered 17 sites to construct buildings ranging from 40,000 to 250,000 square feet.
The university released a public request for proposal looking for a development partner to assist in the restoration of College Avenue Campus in January 2016. We saw the potential for an innovative and creative solution to our challenge of consolidating some of our administrative staff while doing something good for the community.
Is this a big expense for Conexus?
We already own or lease office space at six different locations in Regina. Building a new corporate office to consolidate our corporate services staff will have little or no impact to our capital or earnings over the long-term.
It’s important to note that our agreement with the University of Regina also includes a contribution toward the College Avenue Campus renewal project. This is an investment in the province and a commitment to education in Saskatchewan.
Why would Conexus want to partner in something like the College Avenue Campus renewal project?
As a Saskatchewan-based co-operative we’re deeply committed to the province and communities we serve. This project reflects our continuing commitment to co-operative principles and our 80-year tradition of serving this community. Credit unions are builders, who invest in Saskatchewan people and communities to make a measurable impact on the quality of life in this province.
Conexus is a strong supporter of education, arts and culture and our contribution of up to $8.25 million to the College Avenue Campus renewal project is a prime example of this. It will help the University of Regina restore the College Avenue Campus and turn it into educational and cultural hub, something that will benefit our the community, including the 40,000 Conexus members who live in Regina.
When does construction begin?
We’re just beginning the design phase of the project, so it’s a bit early to provide a date. We know there’s a lot of interest in the project and will share our construction schedule as soon as we can.
Why are we seeing construction at the campus already?
The activity you see in the park right now is part of the overall College Avenue Campus renewal project. The university will be repairing the exterior shell of Darke Hall and renovating the College Building, the Tower Building and the façade of the Conservatory.
Is this the first commercial building in the park?
Wascana Centre is already home to other business and corporate facilities, including the CBC building, office spaces like the ministries of Health and Environment, the former sound stage, the Canadian National Institute for the Blind, The Conexus Arts Centre and the restaurant Willow on Wascana. There will be no retail activity in our new building. It will house 200 corporate services employees who are currently working from six different sites across the city.
Is this going to take away green space from Wascana Park?
We’re building our office on a lot west of Darke Hall on the very edge of Wascana Centre and not in the middle of the park. Our initial assessment shows that about 30 trees on the site may be affected by construction, but all can be successfully relocated. We fully understand the importance of Wascana Park and what it means to our community. The Wascana Centre Authority’s Master Plan contains strict guidelines and we’re committed to developing a space consistent with these guidelines that follows heritage design concepts.
Have you held any public consultation?
Absolutely. This has been a very public process. Consultations to date include:
- The land proposed for our building was designated for future development in the Wascana Centre Master Plan released in May 2016. The process of developing that Master Plan included three public meetings in 2015 and opportunities for input through an online survey.
- In June 2016, the university held two open public sessions on the proposed partnership with Conexus. The sessions were advertised twice in the Leader Post and about 25,000 students, faculty, staff, alumni and members of the public received invitations by email. The consultations were also publicized during a media event June 8 when the university announced Conexus as the successful partner. This news conference was well-attended and well-covered by Regina media.
- Business groups, heritage groups and others attended a series of targeted meetings on the proposal.