I’m back for another installment of TWACH – this week Paul wears a gem sweater just like he’s always wanted to (probably) [Paul, I completely understand if you never trust me with the TWACH column again].

Ok – only a few meetings this week to report on.

Wednesday, March 28

CITY COUNCIL (5:30pm): Council will be looking at a contract zone agreement to sell land just south of the Italian Club for them to use as an outdoor space with some seasonal seating and potentially a play structure. The agreement will include a buy back agreement if the city ever needs it for public uses.

Also on the agenda are reports from various other city committees covering topics such as the RPL 2011 budget and the Housing Incentives Tax Exemption bylaw.

Wednesday, March 30
REGINA PLANNING COMMISSION (4:00pm): Only a couple of things of note this week at the Planning Commission… and they aren’t really groundbreaking, just interesting.

a) The Civic Naming committee has put forward their report containing names that streets, subdivisions, and parks can be called. Basically the committee vets all the applications sent in nominating people who’ve contributed something to the community. Of the names added to the master list in 2010, six are Roughriders (or at least names I recognized as Roughriders… there may be more). That is 16% of the total. So… I guess you could say we like football.

b) An application to remove the “Floor Area Overlay Zone” for the Southland Mall. The mall wants to add three free standing businesses in the parking lot – making it similar in style to box store development in the northwest, east end, and south west… man we really are surrounded aren’t we? This application is to remove the limit on how much the mall can expand to allow the construction of these new free-standing retail structures, and the parking that comes with them.

What I find more interesting about this application is information about the zoning that it seeks to remove. It was initially put in place to limit how much malls could expand with the theory being that downtown should be the primary retail district and that limiting the expansion of suburban malls would keep them from drawing business out of the downtown.

This ideal was scrapped some time ago, as this application notes, based on the thought that suburban shopping centres and downtown shopping centres serve different markets and can co-exist happily. I have my reservations about that being true based on the systematic gutting of North American downtowns over the last 20 years with businesses moving to the fringe. The continued expansion of our own city’s borders to allow more tract housing and cookie cutter box store development is a prime example of that. Meanwhile, the downtown is competing with this ill-conceived pattern of development and trying to reclaim its title as a destination… but I digress.

At least this development is being built on a lot the Southland Mall already occupies and more land doesn’t have to be annexed in order for the expansion. Silver lining?

As always, you can see the agendas and meeting minutes up on the City’s website.