A metal fence surrounding Regina City Hall isn’t going anywhere any time soon, even though the city says there are no biohazards that pose a risk to the public.
The fence was erected shortly after an encampment with over 80 tents on the city hall lawn was taken down after nearly 40 days.
Earlier this month, Mayor Sandra Masters said that the grass was “polluted” and “essentially a biohazard,” adding that the city would have to replace all of the grass.
Last week, city manager Niki Anderson told media that the fence is expected to stay up until next year so they can “evaluate” the lawn and determine what they’d like to do with the green space, but that it is no longer a biohazard.
“Immediately after decommissioning the camp, the green spaces were cleaned to remove obvious hazards,” said Anderson. “During the encampment, representatives participated in wellness checks of the camp residents, and they were able to confirm that there were biohazards.”
Anderson said that there were conversations about preparing for the possibility of turning the top soil as part of a “remediation effort,” but after the area was cleaned up and surveyed by city maintenance employees, it was determined that there were no longer any biohazards and that it was unnecessary to turn the top soil.
But with the cooler months approaching and little left in this year’s budget for park maintenance and projects, Anderson said the city will make a decision on the future of the green space in 2024.
“Is it safe for someone to step foot on that grass? The answer is yes,” said Anderson.
When asked about taking down the fence until the spring, Anderson said that the land still needs to be evaluated.
“As you’re assessing what you’re doing with a particular plot of grass, you might not want people walking on it,” said Anderson.
Anderson intended to have someone from city operations go into more detail about the evaluation process, but due to the council meeting running late, no one from operations was able to attend.
In the meeting, the majority of city council voted against declaring a “houselessness crisis,” as well as efforts to ensure safe encampments.
The fence is costing the city $2,300 a month to maintain plus another $2,000 every month for security expenses.
Last month, Anderson estimated that to re-sod the lawn and do some cleanup would cost around $60,000.
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