Friendly Update On City Hall: City’s Planning Director Jumping Ship

Click me for more city hall stories…Maybe this has been a big story for days and I’m just hearing it because the carrier pigeons only just now brought the Saskatchewan dispatches to Malta. But I’m going to post this like it’s news.

Jason "Benedict Arnold" Carlston (I joke!)
The new face of Dream??

So… I hear there was an internal e-mail sent out within city hall on Oct. 1 letting staff know that Jason Carlston, Executive Director of Community Planning And Development, will be leaving the upper echelon’s of the city to take a VP position with Dream (formerly Dundee) Developments.

Dundee-cum-Dream are the people who brought you such hits as Harbour Landing. And they are currently facing considerable roadblocks on their way to building another massive (430 hectare!) suburban development in the city’s northwest — Coopertown.

In fact, Coopertown is a thing Dundee-cum-Dream was hoping to start construction on right now but city hall, to its credit, put the project on hold for at least a year as they come up with a new development fee structure and look into a program to phase-in development of new neighbourhoods gradually over time (as opposed to just having a construction free-for-all).

So… Dog Blog readers, tell me what to think about this: The head of planning and development leaving to work for one of the city’s biggest developers.

Hinky or no?

UPDATE: Between the time I originally wrote this post and now, the L-P reported that Executive Committee has recommended approval for the Rosewood portion of the Coopertown development. The committee, which is made up of all members of council, did this despite the fact that city administration advised against approving the Rosewood development. —  that’d be the planning and sustainability arm of city admin that Carlston oversees (or whatever the fuck the department is called these days… seriously, city manager Glen Davies changes everything around like every 14 months or something).

Personally… as far as I can tell, Coopertown is bad, bad news. It’s basically Regina making it’s own, unforced Wascana-Village-style error in the northwest of the city instead of the south. It’s just us doubling down on old fashioned, car-focused sprawl that councils of decades in the future will to curse the existence of.

Sure, Dundee-cum-Dream claim Coopertown is going to be a complete neighbourhood with next-level urban planning but they said the same thing when they were getting Harbour Landing approved.

You tell me how that turned out.

Councillor Hawkins actually used the existence of Harbour Landing as a rationale for approving the Rosewood portion of Coopertown. You see, Dundee-cum-Dream’s Harbour Landing is far from a complete community therefore it’d be a double standard to deny Coopertown just because it’ll be similarly incomplete, he reasoned.

Translation: We made bad decisions in the past therefore we should continue making bad decisions.

And Mayor Fougere said that all developments should be considered equally and as developments were approved in the past without transit access or guarantees for mixes of housing types, why should this portion of Coopertown be required to have all those crazy things?

In other words, we should treat developments brought forward now, under the new OCP, the same way we treated all those developments approved under the old, outdated OCP.

Using the new OCP would be unfair!

Translation: Same as above.

Seriously gang, why do we even do planning? And why did we go through the Design Regina process if council will toss all that work out the window on the thinnest of pretenses?

Author: Paul Dechene

Paul Dechene is 5'10'' tall and he was born in a place. He's not there now. He's sitting in front of his computer writing his bio for this blog. He has a song stuck in his head. It's "Girl From Ipanema", thanks for asking. You can follow Paul on Twitter at @pauldechene and get live updates during city council meetings and other city events at @PDcityhall.

14 thoughts on “Friendly Update On City Hall: City’s Planning Director Jumping Ship”

  1. Technically the approval of the Rosewood project needs to go to council to be approved. It will likely be on the agenda for the October 14th council meeting. I too believe that this sets a bad precedent and does not align with the OCP which was developed with the benefit of the whole city in mind. Come out and be a delegation against this. If enough people are at council speaking against it there will be a chance to sway council if not make them at least question their decision.

  2. Christopher: Thing is, Executive Committee is made up of all the members of council so how it votes is a pretty good indicator of how council will vote. I’ve seen them change their mind in the 2 weeks between exec and council, but it doesn’t happen often.

    And this decision about Rosewood and Coopertown has been brewing for months now. I was very surprised to see council vote against the Coopertown levy deal when they were coming up with the interim development fee thingy. They almost never say no to a developer who wants to build shit. Especially a hometown team like Dundee-cum-Dream. So to see them reverse course is not a surprise. It’s the natural direction this council takes.

  3. Maybe Jason can do some good within that organisation he’s moving to.

    Could only do so much from within City Hall…

  4. I imagine that Jason Carlson’s main role with Dream will be “show us how to make proposals that will get approved quickly, so we can make boatloads of money right now before the real estate bubble finally bursts”.

  5. It’s a sick joke that Council delayed the development of a new zoning bylaw to help implement the OCP. Although I commend the effort and intention behind Design Regina, fluffy high-level policy rarely results in positive outcomes on the ground, especially if the City’s political leaders aren’t wiling to fight for it. So-called ‘complete communities’ are built all over North America but end up being far form what Jen Keesmaat describes here:
    http://www.thestar.com/opinion/commentary/2014/08/16/in_complete_communities_pedestrians_take_precedence.html

    Fougere and the majority of Council have shown time and again that they know nothing about planning and responsible growth. It’s a shame that the City is losing someone with so much experience and knowledge in Jason. However, nothing is going to change in this town until a real leader, our own Nenshi or Iveson, comes in and takes a strong stance against expensive auto-oriented suburban sprawl. Sadly, that leader is going to inherit one hell of a mess to work with.

  6. The residents of Regina also need to step up to the plate and demand something more. If people continue to buy overpriced houses on the edge of the city, avoid downtown because of the perceived lack of parking, and make racist and classist comments in public (see yesterday’s article on Global News about a mosque that was removed due to racist comments) then Regina will never become anything great. People are coming from around the world to seek opportunities in SK and we are squandering the opportunity to evolve into a diverse, vibrant city that will continue to grow and evolve. We need to hold everyone to a higher standard.

  7. By the way, what’s it say when a man on the other side of the Earth is more in touch with Regina political news than the Leader-Post and other competition?

  8. Carlston could be replaced by a nodding bobble head performing the same function.

    Wait – check that – the bobble head couldn’t fire decent and principled people for no reason. He was great at that.

    This cozy relationship between developers, city hall, and local media isn’t new. It’s the hallmark of the Fiacco-Glenn Davies era. Taxpayers even paid the president of the construction association to be a useless councilor for a decade before construction company money helped fund his successful campaign for mayor.

  9. Patrick Book’s story on this move would have been interesting… a year ago.

    Now he gets to work on stuff about how “satisfied” taxpayers are with the City’s privatized recycling corporation pretending to recycle glass.

  10. He gave up being a journalist and holding the City accountable.

    Now, when he’s not golfing with Michael Fougere and stadium construction jackpot winners, PCL Construction, he’s stonewalling the media or communicating the same BS and doublespeak that he previously used to dissect.

    I understand everybody wants to get paid more and that reporting for CJME would give anyone doubts about their career choice. But it still saddens me when someone with his potential sells out.

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