I’m betting their council meetings are really short

City Hall | by Paul Dechene

Hey, I like a contentious council marathon as much as the next guy. But right before Christmas? Count me out. And while council’s Dec. 19 meeting was only a few hours long — the agenda only stretched to 279 pages (that’s next to nothing) — it still delayed me getting this written and thus my holidays from officially starting.

Don’t these people understand that Christmas cookies won’t bake themselves?

Recycling: Put A Bow On That Wrapping Paper Mess

Regina was in a holiday uproar last week when word got out that the city wouldn’t be recycling wrapping paper. Was Emterra, the company that processes our recyclable material, trying to weasel out of fulfilling its contract with the city?

According to Lisa Legault, director of solid waste at the city, it was all a misunderstanding. You can recycle most wrapping paper.

Just not the kind with foil and glitter and glue and spangles all over it.

“I think the misunderstanding was in our ad that said keep wrapping paper out of the blue cart,” says Legault. “Our intention was to raise awareness that a significant amount of wrapping paper has non-recyclable content and to simplify the message, we indicated that you should keep wrapping paper out. We didn’t use the term, ‘all.’ However, it was interpreted as ‘all’.

“What we’re trying to do is to get people to be aware of the non-recyclable content in wrapping paper,” Legault says. “I think our messaging at first, maybe we overreached a little bit. We wanted to make it simpler for the residents to start looking at other alternatives for wrapping gifts — other than the glittery-foil, bows and ribbons that go with Christmas. There are other options: reusable bags and even newsprint.”

Of course, there’s a very good reason why you shouldn’t recycle wrapping paper with foil and glitter and glue and spangles on it: because foil and glitter and glue and spangles aren’t paper. And there’s no Christmas magic that can make those sparkly bits disappear so that the rest of the paper can be ground up and turned into TP.

So sort the offending wrapping paper into the garbage bin at home, or it’ll just be yoinked out at Emterra and wind up in the same place.

Souls Harbour: New Facility Gets a Festive Green Light

Souls Harbour Rescue Mission got some good news for the holidays at council’s Dec. 19 meeting. The non-profit’s plan to build a new four-storey building at 1610 Angus Street in North Central was approved. The building will include a donation area, a kitchen, a free clothing store, a dining room that doubles as a rescue shelter, 16 residential suites and a daycare with space for 60 kids.

This building will be an extension to a two-storey, 30-unit apartment building that Souls Harbour already maintains on an adjacent lot. That older building provides housing for homeless adults and families.

Souls Harbour already operates an emergency men’s shelter and meal program out of an aging facility on Halifax Street but according to the charity’s executive director, Joe Miller, many of its clients come from North Central — and having to travel from there to Halifax Street was a problem.

There were concerns raised by community members that with the addition of a soup kitchen to their neighbourhood, property values would be impacted due to loitering around the facility and the possibility of increased drug use in the area. Miller, however, says the facility has a strict no drugs or alcohol policy and will be staffed and monitored 24 hours a day.

And as for the property values concerns, council wasn’t convinced this was a sufficient worry to hold up the project.

“There’s no study that I know of that talks about the loss of property values, that can quantify it,” says Mayor Michael Fougere. “I’m not saying that it isn’t real for those who say it is. But when we ask city administration what the impact of this kind of development is in a neighbourhood — is it deleterious? does it hurt? — I know of no study that says categorically, yes, that happens.

“In the absence of any report that says that, given the sensitivity of the client that’s going in, we say that they should go in there.”

Ban-It Claus: He Knows When You’ve Been Vaping

Safe smoking and vaping zones may become more scarce in the not-too-distant future. At its Dec. 19 meeting, council requested that city administration start a public consultation about whether or not to expand the bans on inhalable tobacco products to all public spaces.

That ban, if approved, would mean that you couldn’t smoke or vape on restaurant or bar patios, in playgrounds, at sports events, at outdoor concerts on any other municipal property.

“It’s just my impression that people are more amenable to changes and more restrictions on smoking, and that’s the reason why council wants to look at this,” says Regina Mayor Michael Fougere. “We all believe this and we’ve seen reports and surveys that talk about that the public’s attitudes are for more restrictions, not to lessen but to tighten them up.”

Administration’s report is expected to come back to council in April. And that means the ban could be in effect by patio season.

Smoke ’em —and, er, vape ‘em — while you still can, I guess.