Plaza Update

Last night I took a walk through the new 12th Ave. plaza. I’d sat out there Friday afternoon with a tea. It had just opened that day, so there wasn’t much action, but the response of most of the people who did pass through seemed positive. 

Last night was the first time I’d been back. First thing I noticed as I headed west on 12th Ave from the Scarth Street Mall is that they’d spruced up the old Novia and another vacant storefront on the other side of the Canadiana Hair Salon (daytime photo above). During the now 14-month long construction process that stretch of 12th took quite a beating. The prairie dog distribution box that’s there, for example, now looks as ghetto as ghetto gets, short of actual bloodstains, although some may be there, they’re just covered by spray paint. So with the Regina Folk Festival coming up, and traffic on the plaza destined to increase, a little lipstick is welcome. Although if the plaza is to fulfill its potential as a people-friendly festival place something needs to be done soon to revitalize that area.

Once I reached the plaza I observed some chalk drawings in front of the old Bank of Canada building. I experienced a brief flicker of annoyance that the cobblestone pattern had been marred, but then I saw that the drawings were quirky outlines of human figures and quickly changed my opinion of them.

Some enterprising individuals had even written messages on the plaza. The first one read “Jesus is coming to save you.” Nearby was a second one that read “It’s all peanuts.” A third message, “Mum’s the Word”, was written on one of the rust-coloured shade screens.

Being done in chalk, the drawings and messages would have a limited lifespan and, in my mind, were not an egregious abuse of what, after all, is supposed to be a public space. The same, unfortunately, can’t be said for the eight or so tags that had been spray-painted on the plaza in the four days it had been open.

Near the library I also noticed that the concrete border with the park had been scuffed up. A week or so earlier I’d seen skateboarders using the Cenotaph (the actual spire, not the surrounding mini-plaza) to do tricks on, with camera equipment set up to record their efforts. I suspect the marks on the plaza were also done by skaters doing tricks. The concrete itself wasn’t damaged, at least not yet, just discoloured. Is this a problematic use for the plaza, or not? I guess as a city we’ll have to decide.

None of the lighting has been installed at this point, so at night the plaza is still a bit of an open territory without much in the way of social control. How the plaza will evolve in the weeks and months to come remains to be seen.

Author: Gregory Beatty

Greg Beatty is a crime-fighting shapeshifter who hatched from a mutagenic egg many decades ago. He likes sunny days, puppies and antique shoes. His favourite colour is not visible to your inferior human eyes. He refuses to write a bio for this website and if that means Whitworth writes one for him, so be it.

14 thoughts on “Plaza Update”

  1. Is it just me, or do those weird rusted thunderbolt thingys look like something people would be hanged from in the Southern USA during the lynching area?

  2. Maybe I read wrong…but why were the skaters pointed out as the possible culprits for doing spray paint? It could be anyone. Especially when you saw them 7 days before the incident. That’s a lot of time. Plus to add an extra note: ‘Your personal interest status (ie: skater, jock ect) has nothing to do with vandalism. I think its sad that only a week can go by and there is sloppy tagging/messages being placed all over the plaza, but it speaks to the state of our public entertainment (and downtown for that matter) in this city. Lacking on all fronts. The city center is looking better after the 12th Ave. project, but its only 1% of the whole picture. The spray paint (so called vandalism)is extremely disliked by almost everyone, yet we can even clean up our own trash. (just check out any major city festival or celebration after dark)

  3. I didn’t link the tags to skaters, just the black marks on the edge of the concrete border of the plaza by the library. If the plaza is being used for tricks, it’s just a matter of time before the concrete gets chipped up, and the city will likely resort to installing metal rails like they did a few years ago at the Cenotaph. If the Plaza is being treated the same as the Scarth St. Mall, then skating there isn’t technically legal I don’t think. Right now its no big deal, but once there’s more activity on the plaza, with foot and vehicle traffic, it might be more of an issue.

  4. Not that I’m endorsing Orwellian countermeasures, but it strikes me as curious, considering the huge investment in this project, that security, cameras, or some degree of deterrence does not appear to be incorporated by this point. Poor planning?

  5. I’d have a hard time getting motivated to argue hard against downtown CCTV. Love good graffiti and adore the chalk drawings but I hate tagging and vandalism.

  6. We don’t need CCTV in downtown Regina. We need to have 1 bike cop stationed in the area at night, as opposed to the 5 or 6 bike cops around lunch time when nothing happens. I say this as someone whose building gets tagged about twice a week (as opposed to the annual tagging pre-lynching pole construction).

  7. I wasn’t a fan of CCTV until little James Bulger was murdered in the UK. Now I think the more the merrier, especially downtown at the plaza and near the bus terminals, so that we don’t go the way of Saskatoon. And, by the way, skateboarding on the cenotaph is extremely disrespectful.

  8. And really, “downtown boredom made me spray graffiti around”? Please. Grow the hell up.

  9. I seen two cute 20-something girls doing the chalk outlines yesterday as I biked through.

  10. They won’t ever pay a cop to patrol, they’ll contract a rent-a-cop to walk back and forth, around and around, sitting in his little buggy during the winter months. Now that we’ve cleared that up, I gotta say I enjoy the creative expression. Tagging…well, I don’t get tagging–I assume it’s done by people not from the same middle of the spectrum socioeconomic class than me, so defies my penetration, but do believe it best confined to back alley garbage dumpsters and barely-visible corners of upper-floor buildings.

    As for CCTV, I would love to be corrupted by a passerby, only to say, “ha! burn! they caught you on camera,” but unless it prevents serious crime in progress, I don’t think it’s worth the invasion of our liberties. It’s like crushing a peanut with a sledgehammer, or invading iRaq to retaliate for Sept. 11th. Anyway, I’m pretty sure there is a beady eye mthrfckr camera on the corner of Lorne and 12th. I know I saw one somewhere.

  11. Before we rush to say CCTV is the solution to all of our problems, we should look to the United Kingdom (where greater than 4 million have been installed). The UK experience indicates that cameras are not terribly effective, either at prevention or prosecution.

    Real prevention is the key and frankly, certain youth in this city are so badly marginalized that I can’t blame them for committing property crimes. Fix alienation, fix problems!

  12. Never said CCTV was the solution to all our problems, and alienation? The king of excuses.

  13. this entire city center project will be covered in graffiti on a nonstop basis due to the fact that there is NO reason for anyone to be downtown past 9PM other than beer brothers or o’hanlons. It’s dead at night, not a soul in sight, but has high traffic during the day.. perfect for vandals.

    Here is your tax money at work people.

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