Brandt build in Wascana should not go ahead, says NDP

The Saskatchewan NDP is calling on the Saskatchewan Government, through its now-majority vote on the Provincial Capital Commission, to reject the proposed Brandt build in Wascana Park in light of the failure to follow due process, the leaked expert objections, and, most recently, yesterday’s late-afternoon release of the wide-open list of permitted tenants for the proposed four-storey office building.

The list, which had previously been redacted from an NDP Freedom-of-Information request, goes against the principles that have governed Wascana Park for decades by opening the park to commercial office clients, and potentially to retail stores. In addition to the five permitted types of tenants allowed for under the Wascana Centre Authority Act plus the CNIB, the Brandt lease opens the door to “Tenants whose purpose is not inconsistent with the permitted tenants in paragraphs 1 to 6 above, including but not limited to general office tenants,” as well as “Tenants whose purpose is the provision of amenities and services.”

“Yesterday Minister Cheveldayoff said there’s ‘not really anything that will astound you’ in the list. That in itself is astounding,” said Provincial Capital Commission Critic Nicole Sarauer. “The public is already concerned about this government’s poor handling of Wascana Park, and they are going to be furious when they see what has been done here.”

“The rules laid out in this lease directly undermine the integrity of our city’s most iconic park,” Sarauer continued. “And we’ve recently learned that this government weighed in to see this project go through over the objections of the architectural advisors, after having abolished the Wascana Centre Authority and taken majority control of the Provincial Capital Commission seemingly in order to force this project through. And all of this appears to have been done to benefit the Sask. Party’s largest corporate donor in 2017, the company at the centre of this project. This stinks worse than the Canada Goose poop that decorates Wascana Lake each spring.”

Since 2006, Brandt has donated $229,358.11 to the Sask. Party, including $16,000 in 2017.

Because the first class of tenant listed in the Brandt lease is government entities, including Departments or Ministries, Crown Corporations, or “other government-related tenants,” publicly funded entities could find themselves tenants of Brandt in Wascana Park, even as Provincial Capital Commission Minister Cheveldayoff explores selling off publicly owned buildings. Premier Moe himself said last year, “some of the buildings across the province that may have low rental rates in them, they’re not being filled, they’re not being utilized to the capability that they could be.”

“There is no way the public could stomach paying rent to Brandt for a commercial development in Wascana Park that expert advisors expressed ‘profound difficulties’ about,” said Sarauer. “This proposed build simply has no place in Wascana Park.”