Intersection Of Doom?

20160304_143613This is quite the set up the city’s got going on the north-east corner of Saskatchewan Drive and Albert St. these days.

To get to the island where the walk button is in preparation for crossing Sask. Dr. heading south, or Albert St. heading west, you’ve got to watch for vehicles flying around a curve on Sask. Dr. and merging onto Albert. Then to reach the island you’ve got to navigate a tiny port in all the barricades that have been erected, and do the same when you exit on the opposite side of the island to cross either intersection.

If you happen to be pushing a stroller of some sort, or maybe you’ve got a walker or a scooter, or you’re a cyclist who is crossing in the cross walk because cycling in this area is not for the faint of heart, the island is pretty much inaccessible. So I guess you’d be reduced to going around it when you’re crossing which would potentially put you in the line of traffic.

Council Meeting Warp-Up: Blue Dot Be Praised (And Put On Pause)!! Country’s Greenest Council Creates New Asphalt Nation Of Timhortonistan!!

I live tweeted much of the Jan 25 council meeting while in the same room as my 5-year old (who was playing Minecraft). That was pretty nice. What wasn’t so nice was thinking about having to explain to him how our city council postponed signing onto a declaration saying that a healthy environment is a human right because they needed to get a report from administration about the possible implications from being party to such a declaration. You know how it is, signing on to a non-binding feel-good doc like that isn’t something you leap into recklessly.

“But, kiddo, let me tell how later in the same meeting, they didn’t even hesitate to approve a Tim Horton’s for the city’s northeast that will boast a 69-stall surface parking lot. Can you think of a better use of our green-space than that? Incidentally, the parking required by law for that site would be nine stalls. This new Tim Horton’s will have a parking lot nearly eight times larger than that. Talk about overachievers!”

“But yeah. Council cares about the environment. So no need to get discouraged. Enjoy the planet we’ve bequeathed you, my son. Probably shouldn’t think too hard on the climate. But at least you won’t have trouble finding a place to park while you drink a boiling cup of bitterness.”

You can follow along with my live-twittering next council meeting on my @PDCityHall account. A city hall report will likely appear in next week’s Prairie Dog magazine. And Aidan and I will no doubt discuss it during the the next meeting of the Queen City Improvement Bureau, which is a radio show we do every Thursday at 7 pm on 91.3 CJTR, Regina’s community radio station.

Canadian Club of Regina Luncheon

When Regina Police Service went before city council in early December to seek approval for a 5.3 percent increase in its budget to $80.3 million to add additional officers and purchase carbine rifles, chief Troy Hagen faced tough questioning from some community members about police practices such as profiling, carding and excessive force that critics allege unfairly target the homeless, mentally ill and other vulnerable people in our society.

Hagen also generated some controversy in mid-December when he said that he had no reason to believe there were any problems with racism on the police service. His comments stood in stark contrast to a recent admission by RCMP commissioner Bob Paulson that some members of the federal force did harbour racist beliefs.

Which brings me to the purpose of this post. On Wednesday Jan. 13, the Canadian Club of Regina is hosting a luncheon that features Regina police chief Troy Hagen as guest-speaker. The topic of Hagen’s talk will be “Public Confidence in the Community”. The luncheon is being held at the Executive Hotel on Albert St. S, with registration at 11:45 a.m. If you’re planning to attend you’re asked to RSVP by Jan. 11 to 306-586-7347.

Sharpen Those Blades

20160102_150336For several years the city’s been operating a downtown skating rink in Victoria Park. Not only is it a scenic place to go for a skate, the mix of deciduous and evergreen trees even provide a bit of a wind break — at least compared to some areas in the downtown where the tall buildings funnel and sharpen the wind to a knife-edge.

The one down side about putting a rink in the park is that it kills the grass and forces the city to lay down new sod each summer. This year, though, the southwest corner of the park was already ripped up because of work that’s being done to improve drainage and the city wisely decided to put the rink there.

I snapped the above image yesterday afternoon when I was on my way from Central Library to Wascana Centre for a walk along the lake. It was a great day to be out and it was nice to see a bunch of people taking advantage of the rink to get some skating in.

Railyard Renewal Project Survey

smoke ReginaThe City of Regina has an online survey going on where people can offer input on how they would like to see the redevelopment of the CP rail yard area between the Downtown and Warehouse District proceed (the area is 17.5 acres in size, and is sort of pictured above during warmer/smokier days last June).

The renewal project is tangentially related to the new Mosaic Stadium that’s being built on the Exhibition Grounds and the eventual redevelopment of the current Taylor Field/Mosaic Stadium site. In the survey you can identify what you think should be development priorities from pre-selected lists, plus offer your own comments.

You can find out more information about the rail renewal project, plus find a link to the survey here.

This Week At City Hall: Café Patios On Hill Ave Cut 50%, Condo Policy Disaster Averted, Getting Ready To Welcome Refugees

thisweekatcityhallHere it is: 100% twitter-distilled city council meeting for your mid-morning clicking pleasure. It’s all here. The debate, the clever repartee, the feel-good speechifying, the Chad Novak. Everything except the boring bits.

And if you don’t like the slick slideshow viewer that’s below, click on over to my Storify site for the whole thing on a page.

You can follow all my Regina-related live tweeting at @PDCityHall.

Digging Deep At Capital Pointe

20151114_161310When I was out for a walk on the weekend taking advantage of the gorgeous late fall weather I took this shot at the Capitial Pointe construction site on the corner of Albert & Victoria.

I believe the plan is to dig down five stories to accommodate underground parking and other elements of the foundation. The work will probably proceed more quickly once the remnants of the old Plains Hotel are cleared away, but for now it’s pretty tough going.

This Week At City Hall: Street Names, Pension Problem, Road Closures

thisweekatcityhallRecommendations from the Civic Naming Committee and reports about road closures don’t usually become the marquee items on council’s agenda. But they did this week.

Also on the agenda: appointing an interim city manager, solving the city’s unfunded pension liability, shuffling around reserve balances, revising the housing incentives policy and more.

Here’s the Storify of all the live tweeting I did through the meeting. You can catch all the thrilling, moment-to-moment twitter action next council meeting by following my city hall account, @PDCityHall.

Law Foundation of Saskatchewan Lecture

scott-decker-012Later today Arizona State University professor Scott Decker (pictured) will deliver this annual lecture at the University of Regina. The talk is titled “Smart Policing and the Challenge of Translational Criminology”.

Smart policing sounds like an idea we can all get behind, I imagine. Although what translational criminology is I’m not exactly sure. If you read the synopsis on the university website, it talks about different strategies of policing that have been developed over the years like Team Policing and Problem Orientated Policing.

Smart policing is apparently the latest strategy. Because it’s evidence-based, it seems like a reasonably enlightened way of going about law enforcement. And while I wouldn’t presume to put words in Decker’s mouth, there is a situation playing out in cities across Canada these days where some municipal police forces have largely stepped back from enforcing antiquated laws related to the possession of small amounts of cannabis, be it for recreational use or health issues via compassion clubs and other types of dispensaries.

It’s the police’s position that from a cost vs harm perspective, there are simply much better ways to allocate scarce resources to preserve the peace in our communities than persecuting people who smoke (or otherwise consume) cannabis.

That ruffles the feathers of the hard-ass Harper Conservatives, though, who keep fulminating about the need for police to crackdown on these godforsaken pot criminals who are terrorizing our communities. Were the police to take their advice, though, it probably wouldn’t be regarded as an efficient use of resources, and hence not “smart” policing.

The same can be said for simple-minded “tough on crime” policies geared toward jailing people and ramping up police and prison infrastructure without giving any thought to underlying causes of crime such as mental illness, addiction, homelessness and poverty. That was a point Saskatoon police chief Clive Weighill, president of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, made the other day in the Leader-Post when he urged Canadians to vote for the party with the best social justice plan if they really wanted to put a dent in crime. 

But that’s just my take on the situation. If you want to hear what Scott Decker has to say, the lecture goes tonight at ED191 at the University of Regina at 5 p.m.

This Week At City Hall: More Taxis, More Evraz Buildings, More Schools, More Surprise Money

thisweekatcityhallRain-soaked bike ride. Ominous thunder. Wet pants. Must be city council.

Typhoon season has finally come to Regina but I live tweeted through the torrent. I may be damp but I still managed to assemble a whole Monday night’s worth of city hall news that you can click through…

Don’t like the slideshow? You can read the long form over here. And next month, if you want to follow a city council meeting in an onslaught of 140 character blurbs — as they happen — because WHY WOULDN’T YOU?? — I live tweet from @PDCityHall.

Happy Belated “I Love Regina Day”

I Love Regina Day IIOn Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. the City of Regina hosted its annual “I Love Regina Day” in beautiful Victoria Park in downtown Regina. Included was a free BBQ, children’s activities, giveaways and other treats.

If you missed it, don’t despair, as of Sunday night at 8:30 p.m., cake was still available at the central Scarth St. entrance to the park (photo above) — although to grab a piece you might have to engage in a squawking match with the seagulls first to shoo them away.

The BBQs had long been put away, unfortunately, but as a second late Sunday evening photo after the jump shows, you could still sort of bask in the general atmosphere of the day if you happened to be passing by the Cenotaph. Continue reading “Happy Belated “I Love Regina Day””

This Week At City Hall: Curlers Get Tax Exemption; Aviators, Not So Much; End Of Sordid District Brewing Saga

thisweekatcityhall

Last night was my first time back at city council since August of 2014. And it ended up being a FIVE HOUR LONG meeting. I didn’t get home until nearly 11pm.

I swear Fougere planned it this way just to get me back for escaping to the beach for a year.

Despite my rusty twittering skills, I did manage to live tweet throughout the meeting. To catch up anyone who couldn’t be there or couldn’t watch from home, I’ve compiled everything I typed — along with a selection of the twitter chatter from others — into one honking huge storify. Ta da! Check out this happy dude…

If for some reason you don’t like clicking through the gallery above, you can jump to the long form page here.

I usually live tweet any city meeting I go to through @PDCityHall. More general nonsense comes out of @PaulDechene.

Pigeons Left Homeless By Closure Of Downtown Landmark?

Travellers BuildingI went for a walk in the downtown last night. When I was on the west side of 18 block Broad St. around 8:15 p.m. I noticed a fair bit of commotion across the street at the pigeon condo a.k.a. the Travellers Building.

Pigeons were flying around and landing, then taking off and landing again, and making that weird warbly sound that they make. I took a closer look and ended up taking the above snap.

If you compare it to a shot of the building I took in April 2014, it does seem that the windows on the second floor that had been open previously are now closed so the pigeons are no longer able to roost there at night as I believe they were in the habit of doing.

Judging by the confusion I observed in the pigeon community, this is a relatively recent development. But I don’t have any other confirmation of that beyond the pigeons. Both photos can be enlarged by clicking on them to see the pigeons in better detail.

Infill Housing and You

Dr_Seuss_infill
If only all infill housing paid this kind of attention to scale.

If you spend any time taking notice of your surroundings in this city, you’ve probably remarked on all the infill housing that has cropped up in recent years. In theory, infill is a good way to retain density in neighbourhoods by developing housing in areas otherwise occupied by vacant lots. At its best, it’s well designed and affordable. In practice, however (particularly in Regina, it seems), “infill” is too often used as short hand for “ugly and cheap”, and those who call out its objectionable design are frequently (and unfairly) accused of NIMBYism. But why should this be? We’ve built beautiful, well considered, modest housing in the past, and we can do it again, right?

In any case, the City of Regina is holding two public engagement sessions to address the issue of infill housing and how it works within Design Regina’s Official Community Plan.

The first session, an “Infill and Intensification Kick-Off Meeting and Public Workshop” will be held on Monday June 8, (6 – 9pm). The second session, “Introduction to Laneway and Garden Suites Guidelines” will be on Tuesday June 23 (6-9pm). Both sessions will be held at Knox-Metropolitan Church (2340 Victoria Avenue).
Now you know.

 

Queen City Catch Up: Councillor Barbara Young On Civic Pension, Road Repair And Packed Galleries (Podcast)

For the penultimate episode of Queen City Catch, I sat down with ward one councillor, Barbara Young. We talked about the civic pension plan that’s in the process of being resolved (in theory) and about the city’s recent efforts to solve our residential roads problem. And, as an added bonus, we touched briefly on council’s decision to reject an application to open a strip club in the city.

In the background of our interview you can hear the clang and clamour of Stone’s Throw Coffee House on Kramer Boulevard. Thanks to them for providing a lively space in which to do this interview.

Music for this podcast is from the album Malta’s Lost Voices and it’s all used with permission. You can get your own copy from Filfla Records.

The next episode of Queen City Catch Up is still being sorted out so I can’t preview who it’ll be with. If all goes to plan though it should be fairly interesting. Expect to see that posted on Monday.

Queen City Catch Up: Marc Spooner On The New Deputy Education Minister, Regina’s Homelessness Count And Model Trains (Podcast)

Episode five of Queen City Catch Up is my interview with University of Regina professor, Marc Spooner. And it’s the one that’s the most packed with news items that I had to put in the “Holy crap, you’re kidding me” folder. You’ll have to listen to the episode to find out what those items are.

Music for this podcast is from Malta’s Lost Voices, a collection of Maltese recordings from the early 1930s. You can get your own copy at filflarecords.com.

In the next episode of Queen City Catch Up, I’ll be speaking with lawyer, regular Leader Post contributor and Accidental Deliberations blogger, Greg Fingas. That will go up on Monday.

Imagine Downtown

Regina Downtown Business Improvement District is going to be holding some focus groups and town hall meetings to generate some dialogue around the downtown. Here’s some background on the idea as laid out by RDBID:

What is Imagine Downtown?
Over the next few months, RDBID will be leading the Imagine Downtown initiative, a very visible and inclusive public dialogue that will explore the experiences and perspectives of our stakeholders to better understand their view of the downtown today, and their hopes for the future.

What’s This All For?
The insights, information and perspectives gained through Imagine Downtown will be used to craft a compelling vision that truly reflects the public’s perceptions, opinions, ideas and priorities pertaining to Regina’s Downtown, and inform the development of RDBID’s strategic plan, which will help guide RDBID programs, activities, capital investments and advocacy work in the downtown.

Image Downtown is About You!
Downtown is everyone’s neighborhood. And Imagine Downtown is everyone’s opportunity to voice their perspectives. We want you stories, your experiences, your memories, your concerns, and your ideas regarding Regina’s downtown. What do you love about Regina’s downtown? What needs to change?

Let’s Talk
Attend one of our upcoming focus groups or town hall sessions to share your stories and ideas and voice your perspectives on a wide range of topics about Regina’s downtown. Or, drop by the Imagine Downtown pop-up location to learn more about Regina’s downtown and add your ideas to the conversation.

I guess the launch was on May 14 at the DoubleTree Hilton, and there’s a town hall scheduled for the MacKenzie Art Gallery June 11 at 4 p.m. You can find out more on the Imagine Downtown website.