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The Regina entrepreneur behind ballpark proposal

Regina-born Alan Simpson co-founded Hospitality Network Canada and Storage Vault Canada before founding Living Sky Sports and Entertainment.

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If Regina gets a new baseball stadium, Alan Simpson will be the reason.

The founder of Living Sky Sports and Entertainment is eager to replace 60-year-old Currie Field with a 3,500-seat ballpark.

“I’ve been a lifelong sports fan, so I like sports and I find sports exciting. But being a lifelong Regina resident, it’s just got to the point where I’ve become very, very frustrated watching us continually kick the can down the road with infrastructure, whether it’s recreational or otherwise,” Simpson said in an interview with Western Standard.

Simpson heard plenty of talk but no action about potential developments at Regina’s railyards downtown. So, Simpson found LSSE, hired an architect to design a 3,500-seat baseball stadium and decided to bankroll at least part of the project.

“It’s just time to get involved. I can lend some capital to this in a meaningful way to help get this off the ground. And we’re not going to solve Regina’s problems with this, but I think it’s a good thing for the city. It’s a good thing for the Red Sox, it’s good for baseball, it’s desperately needed. Alberta has eight baseball stadiums, Saskatchewan has none,” Simpson said.

Simpson was at Seaman Stadium in Okotoks for Baseball Day in Canada August 14 as the Edmonton Prospects and Okotoks Dawgs played a double-header.

The 5,200-seat stadium was full of fans for the Western Canadian Baseball League event, even though the city has only 28,800 people.

“Most people don’t even know of Baseball Day in Canada in Saskatchewan because there’s never been a venue here to hold it, so I’m excited to get us to a point where we get on the baseball map. And I think the infrastructure project baseball stadium on the rail yards does so much more than just grow the game of baseball,” Simpson said.

“If we can put 3,000 people a game in there – and we can – and the Red Sox play 35 games a season, that’s 100,000 people down to the Warehouse District in a 110-day window. So, I believe that’s the economic engine to bring vibrancy and development to the Warehouse District and our downtown core. And, most importantly, a baseball stadium has a useful life of 25 to 30 years.

“So, if you’re an ancillary business, and you’re thinking of relocating down there, you know the anchor, the ballpark, is going to be there, just like if you build a business beside Costco…because Costco is sustainable. And that’s what the baseball stadium brings beyond just the game.”

Simpson’s down-to-earth nature, common to many from Saskatchewan, is complemented by his sharp mind. His PgD in business administration from Edinburgh Business School has been put to good use.

“I’ve only really done two things of note in my life business-wise,” Simpson said.

In 1999, he cofounded Hospitality Network Canada with SaskTel, a service that provides pay-TV and cable to acute care hospitals across Canada. 

Simpson’s next venture “was started with two guys and a pencil in Regina.”

StorageVault Canada has become the largest self-storage company in the nation with 210 locations. He put the company on the Toronto Stock Exchange in 2007 and it now enjoys has a $2 billion market capitalization. He remains a director and chairs the company’s acquisition committee.

The 63-year-old Simpson, who also wants to build a soccer stadium in Saskatoon to attract a CPL franchise, says profit is not his motivation for the baseball stadium.

“We haven’t really talked about financial return,” Simpson said.

“We’ll work something out that’s equitable, but it’s not about trying to make money with a baseball team at this point, it’s trying to get the stadium built.”

The estimated cost of the ballpark would be $25 million. A suggested plan would include $5 million from the Red Sox club, buoyed by a substantial donation from Simpson. The remaining $20 million would come from provincial, federal, and municipal governments, with an amusement fee or tax for fans providing a portion of that amount.

At a recent event showcasing the stadium proposal in Regina, Simpson told an audience of Red Sox patrons a part of his business philosophy required to make the field of dreams real.

“I was just a youngster and I owned a business – and a good chunk of it, but not all of it. And I was sitting with the board of directors, and I was trying to get a raise. And finally, I was exasperated, and I said, ‘Well, I deserve this.’

“And my mentor said, ‘Buddy, you don’t get what you deserve in this life. You get what you negotiate. You get what you advocate for,’” Simpson told the crowd, which included Regina Mayor Sandra Masters, Councillor Landon Mohl and MP Michael Kram.

“There might be a silent majority…They have to become the vocal majority. If you think this has merit, let your counselor know. Let your MP know. Let your MLA know. We deserve it, but we’re not going to get it if we don’t negotiate and advocate for it.”

Lee Harding is a Regina resident and correspondent for the Western Standard.

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Sask Polytech ditches vax policy but burdens unvaxxed with testing costs

The Justice Centre is unsatisfied with the response of Sask Polytech and reiterated its intention to pursue legal action against the institution and against the University of Saskatchewan over its requirement for staff and students to be vaccinated for COVID-19.

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By LEE HARDING

The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms is unsatisfied with the decision of Saskatchewan Polytech to reverse its vaccination requirement for staff and students because the institute does not recognize natural immunity and imposes testing costs on the unvaccinated.

On November 19, the Justice Centre sent Sask Polytech and the University of Saskatchewan letters demanding they reverse their requirement that all staff and students be vaccinated by January 1, 2022. 

On December 1, Sask Polytech reversed its “vaccinated only” policy but now requires unvaccinated staff and students to comply with testing three times a week at their own expense. In a press release, the Justice Centre called this “unacceptable.”

“Such testing requirements for students are even greater than the Saskatchewan government’s requirements for employees of its ministries. Sask Poly has also failed to recognize the compelling scientific evidence of natural immunity for those who have already recovered from Covid-19 and have proof of antibodies,” reads a JCCF press release on Saturday.

“Testing costs, which could exceed $200 per week, mean that only the wealthy and privileged can bear the burden,” stated Andre Memauri, the Justice Centre’s Saskatoon-based lawyer.

“Sask Poly, which has chosen to impose discriminatory testing requirements for staff and students, has the ability to acquire these tests at wholesale cost.”

The Justice Centre said it would commence legal proceedings against Sask Poly in the Court of Queen’s Bench unless Sask Poly immediately absorbs the testing costs and recognizes natural immunity. 

On October 28, the U of S and Sask Polytech announced mandatory vaccinations for all students, staff and faculty, removing the alternative of twice weekly testing which had been in place since the start of the school year. The Justice Centre will also commence legal action against the U of S for refusing unvaccinated students. 

On November 26, Global News reported a 19-year-old student was hospitalized briefly with breathing problems after receiving the Johnson and Johnson vaccine. The student’s mother, Michelle Marciniuk, publicly called for the university to reconsider its policy.

The U of S’ policy includes exemptions on medical and religious grounds in accordance with the Saskatchewan Human Rights Code. But according to the Justice Centre, the university usually rejects exemption requests or does not respond to them for several weeks. Besides this, the university has made itself the arbiter of faith considerations for religious exemptions. Medical exemptions have become a difficult document for patients to receive in Canada, due to regulatory pressure on physicians not to provide them based on their medical judgement except in very rare circumstances.

The U of S crowns itself for academic freedom, diversity, equality, human dignity and a healthy work and learning environment, yet it has harshly terminated faculty for speaking on the hallmark principle of informed consent for Covid-19 vaccination of children,” stated Andre Memauri, a U of S alum. 

“Now, the U of S seeks to exclude and villainize those who decide for various reasons not to be vaccinated…Without question, our community has been through a great deal of difficulty and it requires these institutions to lead as vessels of science not ideology…The Justice Centre demands both schools follow the science and adopt policies that bring students together in the most safe and lawful manner.”

The letters sent to both schools from the Justice Centre on November 19 warned that the schools are seeking to deprive students from education on the basis of vaccination status, contrary to Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Sections 2(a), 7, and 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Harding is a Western Standard contributor based in Saskatchewan

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CRA wants more tax filers to file online

The government’s own research shows millions of paper filers resist change.

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The taxman is angry that too many Canadians are still filing by mail, says Blacklock’s Reporter.

The government’s own research shows millions of paper filers resist change.

“Those who submit their taxes by mail most often say they use paper rather than filing electronically because it is simply how they prefer to do it, e.g. they do it out of habit, because ‘it’s what they are comfortable with,’ they like it, etcetera,” said a Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) report.

“Just 13% cite security issues.”

Data show of 30.5 million tax returns filed this year a total 2.7 million or 9% were filed on paper. Millions of taxpayers, a total 4,234,772 including Internet filers, demanded refunds be paid by mailed cheque instead of direct deposit.

The CRA complained it would be “more timely and efficient” if all taxpayers used the Internet. The Agency spends $6.9 million annually mailing T1 general tax forms alone.

“There is still a sizable proportion of taxpayers who are conducting their business with the Canada Revenue Agency through paper rather than taking advantage of digital services which are much more timely and efficient,” said the report.

Research showed typical paper filers were working age men under 55 who completed their own return without a tax preparer, had a university degree, earned more than $80,000 a year and were more likely than other Canadians to prefer in-person teller service rather than online banking.

“The most important factor influencing why respondents file by paper instead of online is disinterest,” wrote researchers, who added: “Apathy is a barrier. Fifty percent of likely switchers say they are simply not interested in switching. Therefore the agency will have to demonstrate the value of switching.”

Findings were based on questionnaires with 2,000 taxpayers who filed returns by mail. The Agency paid Earnscliffe Strategy Group $130,061 for the survey.

The research follows a failed 2012 campaign to have all Canadians use direct deposit for payment of tax refunds and benefit cheques. The attempt by the Receiver General of Canada, the federal office responsible for processing payments, was intended to save costs. Paper cheques cost 82¢ apiece to process compared to 13¢ for electronic transfers, by official estimate.

An estimated 13% of taxpayers refused to surrender bank account information to the Receiver General. “Cheque recipients have become harder to engage,” said a 2020 Department of Public Works survey.

“A few have a general distrust of the Government of Canada’s ability to protect data,” wrote researchers. A total 23 percent of Atlantic residents said they wouldn’t rely on the government to protect their privacy, followed by 22% in Saskatchewan and Manitoba, 21% in Ontario, 19% in Alberta, 18% in BC and 12% in Québec.

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WATCH: Alberta Oil drives Guilbeault to meeting with Nixon

Federal Environment Minister Stephen Guilbeault’s tour of Alberta has already kicked off with a whiff of hypocrisy.

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Attended by a sizable entourage, Guilbeault exited his black gasoline-powered SUV and hustled into the McDougall Centre in Calgary for a meeting with Alberta Environment Minister Jason Nixon.  

Guilbeault has dedicated most of his career to telling Canadians they need to transition from petrochemically fueled transportation. During this meeting though, Guilbeault chose not to find an utilize an electric-powered SUV in order to demonstrate his environmental virtue. With the resources of the entire federal government behind him, one would have thought that Guilbeault could have arranged appropriate transportation for his cross-Canada tour.  

It’s almost as if electric vehicles are still not ready for mainstream use yet. 

At least Guilbeault contributed to the Western economy with his conspicuous consumption of local petrochemical products.  

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