Over the last number of years, the City of Regina has undertaken several studies with the goal of revitalizing centrally-located neighbourhoods like the downtown and north-central. Not all of those studies involved Jennifer Keesmaat (pictured) and her Toronto-based planning outfit but a substantial portion of them did.
These projects are very much works in progress, and their ultimate success is still far from assured. Whether that was due to poor planning choices, or entrenched special interests at City Hall and in the broader business community that have profited quite handsomely from the way the city has developed over the last 60 years (ie. low density, car-dependent urban sprawl) is a fertile topic for debate.
Anyway, the Globe & Mail reported yesterday that Keesmaat, whose firm Dialog (formerly Office for Urbanism) has also worked with the University of Regina to develop a master plan to guide future campus development, has been appointed chief planner for the City of Toronto. In that capacity, she’s expected to butt heads with the current mayor Rob Ford who, word has it, is a big champion of low-density, car-dependent suburban living.
In other local urban planning news, Cohlmeyer Architecture, the Winnipeg-based firm responsible for the initial design of City Square Plaza in downtown Regina, is suing the city for $600,000 which it claims it is still owed for work done on the $12.6 million plaza. Mid-way through the project, you’ll perhaps recall, the city parted ways with Cohlmeyer, with then project manager Denise Donahue saying that with all the weather delays and other challenges the project experienced (like unmapped utilities on 12th Ave) the logisitics of continuously having to consult with the Winnipeg firm caused too many delays. Here’s a CBC report on the lawsuit.