Six In The Morning: A Smorgasbord Of Garbage

Six in the Morning! 1 THE DEATH OF “BIG POTASH”? Okay, confession: I just wanted to use the phrase “Big Potash,” because it’s funny to me. And because things that are not funny and are instead sobering include the breakup of Eastern Europe’s largest potash conglomerate, which has so far caused Canada’s potash companies to see a substantial drop in stock prices and Australia’s BHP Billiton to reconsider expanding its Jansen mine. Cool times for the Saskatchewan economy up ahead.

2 NORTH CAROLINA SUCKS North Carolina’s Republican legislators have been busy for the last few weeks infuriating progressives by turning a typical racist bill about preventing¬†“Sharia law” into an omnibus bill that puritanically restricts abortion and developing a draconian voter registration bill that essentially spits on the grave of the Voter Rights Act. Then they passed those bills and danced about it and the governor tried to make good by, no shit, giving a protestor some chocolate chip cookies. What a bunch of horrid assholes.

3 ACTUALLY, SCRATCH THAT, AMERICA SUCKS Cool, it’s really cool that a whistleblower can be prosecuted and sent to jail for potentially over a century. Keep in mind that Bradley Manning’s prosecutors did not successfully prove that he was aiding the enemy, which can pretty much only mean he wasn’t committing treason but rather behaving as a whistleblower, and Manning somehow still might wind up in prison for two generations. Cool.

4 LOOK I DON’T USE THE WORDS “REPRESSIVE STATE APPARATUS” LIGHTLY A witness to the shooting of 18 year-old Sammy Yatim says that, while Yatim looked “crazed” and was behaving in a menacing way, the knife-wielding teen never actually threatened his life, despite later being shot nine times by a police officer. As the Globe & Mail points out, uh, maybe situations like this do not always have to end with a series of fatal gunshot wounds, and so maybe Canada can stop pretending like it doesn’t have a problem with police abuse of deadly force like the rest of the global northwest does.

5 REGINA IS A GREAT PLACE TO LIVE I can’t figure out why there are two articles smooshed together into one article here, let alone why this seems to be in the sports section, but it means I only have to link to one page if I want to talk about Mayor Fougere talking about relieving traffic congestion downtown and the roadblocks facing the construction of a new indoor skatepark to replace the one that is being closed to make room for the new football stadium. And here is what I have to say about both those articles: AAARGGHGHHHGHHGHGHGHHG. (The best part is when a Cathedral resident complains about parking around Cornwall Centre when he could just go for a 35-minute walk at the literal absolute most, and then Vanessa Brown writes “Residents like Carlson are the type of people Mayor Michael Fougere has in mind with his latest proposal,” which seems like the most brutal criticism anyone could make of this shithole city’s dingus residents.)

6 THE WHITE MENACE MUST BE STOPPED In the wake of the Huntington Beach riots following Sunday’s US Open of Surfing (and in the wake of conservative talking heads in the States predicting, incorrectly, that the Zimmerman verdict would end in race riots), here’s Gawker’s Cord Jefferson calling for a frank discussion of the white culture of violence. I know a lot of folks who aren’t fond of Gawker but here’s what their writers look like at their best: funny, biting, brave, politically incisive, and right.

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The technical uberlord of the Prairie Dog website.

30 thoughts on “Six In The Morning: A Smorgasbord Of Garbage”

  1. But yeah we do need more parking downtown. And a 35 minute walk isn’t plausible if you’re in a rush, will be carrying something back that’s heavy, you’re physically not able to walk that, etc. And the majority of the city lives a lot farther than a 35 minute walk, so they have to drive (or are part of the 5% that take public transit).

  2. Or part of the 4% who bike. Or the .01% who car share. Or the .000002% who use futuristic matter-beaming transporter technology.
    Margin of error is 1%.

    The Mayor’s latest traffic proposal makes me cray.cray.crazyyyyyy. With extra ‘y’s. It’s so backwards, I’d have thought I’d slipped into the Mirror universe where Fougere has a goatee and I have a Hummer.

  3. You got it, but you put it in parentheses; if a walk of that distance (which, by the way, the quoted resident would only be taking if he lived on the literal southwest corner of the entire Cathedral neighbourhood, as far as is humanly possible from the Cornwall while still being a Cathedral resident) is too much for you, take the goddamn bus, and if you’re constantly in too much of a rush for the bus or a walk to be effective, don’t blame the city for not having ample enough parking to accommodate your inability to manage your time well.

    Obviously my sympathies go out to those who are physically unable to walk that distance, but there’s plenty of available disabled parking downtown, so I’m fairly sure that’s not the issue, here.

  4. Like, to be clear, I’m a downtown resident who sometimes drives to places within walking distance, e.g. businesses down in the Cathedral neighbourhood. However, I don’t complain about parking down on Cathedral, because I’m a grown-ass adult who understands that he could have easily walked, and that I am not, as a person who drives a vehicle in a tiny city, immediately entitled to any parking spot I so choose.

  5. So, there still isn’t enough parking downtown. The fact is people do avoid downtown (for several issues, but parking being one). What’s your solution?

  6. 1) Death of Big Potash? Nah, just a big change. Total over reaction from those who want to see something bad happen.

  7. Brononymous:

    Parking management as described here: would be a pretty good start. Given the haphazard (some would say disastrous) nature of our current parking policies, I would be surprised if we reaped the advertised 15-20% efficiency gains.

    Given the hub-and-spoke design of our current transit plan, the dearth of obvious alternate central locations for a hub, and the moderately high use of buses for downtown commuting (relative to other transit uses), I can’t see this as anything but a huge inconvenience to current bus users. This inconvenience could push up demand for downtown parking in exchange for little supply benefit.

  8. Need more info – is the demand for buses downtown greater than the proposed smaller buses?

  9. Bronymous:
    If you can find someone willing to get onto two buses instead of one to get to where they are going, you’ll probably find someone willing to be beat down by the system. So, maybe a few people.

  10. Police abuse of deadly force is universal, as is racism. Get some perspective.

  11. That made no sense. But seriously, are the buses downtown full or half-empty? If the latter then why not the shorter buses?

  12. Based on the metro (ew) article here: this move seems to be prompted by congestion during the peak post-work period. For example, Veresuk cites “the alleys and the parkades emptying out” and the “tremendous pedestrian congestion [right before the buses come and queue]”. Shuttles seem like a silly fix for this problem. Given that: a) there’s enough bus usage at this time to make it “very difficult to navigate five blocks” and b) shuttles will less efficiently remove those waiting (due to their smaller size), it seems that shuttles would exacerbate — not alleviate — this problem.

    I’ve personally noticed that the only time buses significantly add to traffic congestion on 11th Avenue is when asshole drivers stop in the bus lanes, stranding buses in the driving lane. Most of these asshole drivers seem to be picking up people from the Cornwall Centre. Unfortunately, we can’t make 11th between Lorne and Hamilton a Saskatoon-style bus mall as that would strand users of parking on Cornwall. Here’s my naive suggestion for improving flow on 11th during these times:

    1) Make on-street parking illegal from 4-6pm on the west side of Hamilton between Sask Dr and the parkade entrance. This creates a dedicated Cornwall Centre pick-up zone (this will also alleviate the problems on Sask Dr eastbound at this time). Add signage to spread the word.

    2) Make it illegal for non-buses to enter 11th Ave from east of (and including) Hamilton and west of (and including) Lorne. This improves the ability of buses to get in/out during peak hours and improves the efficiency of cars clearing out of Cornwall on-street parking and parkades.

    3) Improve the timing of the buses downtown. Buses scheduled to depart downtown between 4:40 and 4:50 do little to clear out commuters, leaving people waiting (and blocking pedestrians and potentially loitering inside during winter) until 5:10-5:20.

    Caveat: My bias toward improving transit convenience for commuters should be obvious. In case it isn’t, this is me telling you: I’m a transit commuter.

  13. You may be surprised by this but New Zealand can suck as big as America. I received in the post this morning a form letter from Family Life International NZ (!). This has a copy of the letter, sorry it’s crumpled up but I was about to bin it! There was no return address. I left a message on the website. But it’s disgusting and obscene. See if you can find the false story in it.

  14. Brad, how dare you offer a “naive” suggestion. We’re all experts with “completely unbiased views” who know more than the people paid to study and implement changes in the city. Take your false modesty elsewhere.

  15. I should note that a high frequency shuttle system could reduce peak-hour pedestrian congestion, but I don’t see how it wouldn’t also greatly increase traffic congestion.

  16. Brad has it figured out. Why didn’t the Mayor talk to Brad at least, if he wasn’t willing to talk or listen to me before coming out as a car congestion fetishist?

  17. Oh, and Bro: at the time in question, in my experience — having taken the 12 North, the 8 South and the 21 South — the buses are usually between 60-100% of the seats taken. That’s too high for a 1:1 shuttle-to-bus ratio, but below the 120% or so of seats indicative of a “full” bus. In off-peak hours it’s noticeably less, but off-peak isn’t the issue.

  18. Bronymous, re: “the people paid to study and implement changes in the city.” I have no doubt there are far more knowledgeable, experienced, and intelligent people than I working for the city. However, I have noticed a tendency of the tail to wag the dog in this city. Groups like the C of C, the HBA and the DBID seem to unduly drive policy direction on council. These groups are biased and (in my opinion) often wrong. When these groups get overly involved in municipal decision making, the experts at city hall can be reduced to justifying decisions that have already been made.

    Note that this doesn’t appear to be a feasibility study based on an opportunity identified in a Municipal Transportation Master Plan supported by Municipal Transportation Studies. Based on the reporting, this feasibility study was born of a group of retail and dining business owners rousing some rabble about parking and congestion and smelly bus riders blocking the sidewalks.

  19. My comment was tongue in cheek, your thoughtful suggestions are appreciated.

    I just think Regina is in a tricky middle-area where more usage of (or more efficient) public transit, more focus on growth and attractiveness of downtown, is needed, but we’re still too small of a city in a lot of regards to properly achieve that, and lots of people don’t really want that anyways – they’re fine living in the burbs and shopping/eating/drinking/gloriously parking in expansive parking lots elsewhere. Not an easy problem for those in charge, but clearly the status quo isn’t working so let’s see what other options there are.

  20. Hang on guys! I just had a sequence of ideas that suddenly made the shuttle idea appeal to me! Maybe I shouldn’t have had so much caffeine today!

    Step 1: create a transit hub with free shuttle access (for everyone) to downtown just off Dewdney at the CP Railyards. It’s close enough to downtown to support the current routes. It also connects downtown to the Warehouse District.

    Step 2: launch a “Rider Express” rail service between the hub and the new stadium using the existing line. This opens up way more parking/transit options for games and connects downtown hotels to the conference amenities at the Exhibition grounds. A classic locomotive and cars add tourist appeal.

    Step 3: keep the CP lines running northwest for when population and finances justify an LRT. At-grade LRTs are relatively cheap, the subgrade, grade, clearances and over-/underpasses are in place, and there are many park-and-ride location options. This supports growth to the northwest, which is under less infrastructure pressure than, say, the southeast.

    P.S. If the city does all this, they should name it ‘Brad’s LRT’, or BLRT (pronounced blurt).

  21. Bronymous: I’m convinced the way out of Regina’s “middle-ground” plateau is incremental development. We’ve seen this exemplified by some of Regina’s fantastic downtown restaurant/bar owners. Niall has grown O’hanlon’s in several distinct stages from a small adjunct to Copper Kettle to the large, busy brewpub it is now. Tim and Abbey expanded from Atlantis to Flip (with David and Jackie) to the newly-opened Salt. Beata, Alli and the rest of the Valley Girls expanded from one downtown Fresh & Sweet to a second Fresh on Hamilton. Unfortunately, we haven’t seen this incremental approach to downtown housing. Instead we see attempted mega-projects like Capital Pointe or the Gardens on Rose. If the Gardens turns out to not be mostly empty I’ll eat my words, but there are good reasons to think Regina’s downtown isn’t at the stage for that kind of one-shot residential growth.

    Donovan Rypkema has some evidence-based recommendations for downtown revitalization based largely on incrementally converting unused heritage buildings into upmarket rental housing. His work is well-thought out and has a proven track record. Unfortunately, this is Regina. We’d rather skip his lessons and let our buildings rot. That way we can tear them down and build more 9-to-5 Hill Towers! Yay!

    P.S. I’ve just hit the caffeine comedown, so this is my last comment for the day.

    P.P.S. JC: Near downtown isn’t downtown you pretender!

  22. I know I’ve trotted out this map before, but it’s a map of all the surface parking and parkades in downtown Regina (it doesn’t include any on-street parking). I made it in 2011, so I’m sure there have been some changes, but I still cannot understand the notion that there is not enough parking in the downtown:

    The larger issue, as John points out, is that everyone wants to drive downtown even if they live within a reasonable walking distance, and that everyone wants to park directly in front of their desired location…. walking across downtown (from far NE corner to far SW corner) takes a maximum of 15 minutes. It is not unreasonable to expect people to park in a parkade (or a few blocks over) and walk 5 minutes to the restaurant they want to visit. This is a culture change that needs to happen – it isn’t easy, but it is possible and necessary.

    I feel like the cost of new shuttle buses, staff to run them, advertising to try and teach people how to make use of them efficiently (and then refuse to use them because it will likely just be another inconvenience with more transfers) is a poor use of resources. I also suspect that businesses that are already grumpy about people waiting for buses (loitering!) won’t be consoled with this once they see the reality of how it works.

    There are a lot of short-term, pilot projects the City could test out (disallowing on-street parking on certain streets or at certain times of day, playing with meter fees) that could be tried and would cost a lot less that purchasing new fleet vehicles and staffing them.

  23. Maybe I need to make a map showing which government lots are free at certain times of day (hint: the lot behind the Frontenac apartment building on Lorne Street)… very easy to park there and walk most everywhere downtown in 5-7 minutes.

  24. That’s part of the issue – it is a culture change that many likely don’t want to pursue. Why park and walk 5-7 minutes downtown when you can park at an establishment outside of downtown and walk 15 seconds? Especially if downtown places aren’t superior?

    I’ve visited downtown Montreal, Toronto etc. and was fine with walking 5-20 minutes to our destination (granted I was heading to Montreal/Toronto level destinations, mostly above what we have in Regina, but yes Ohanlons etc. can compete), but overall not sure if booming Reginans have the same attitude.

  25. This is true – it takes time to manage that shift, but it is possible. Regina downtown BID is constantly doing promotion and bringing in people to the downtown (I heard that the last movie night in the park had an amazing turnout). Attracting people to the area needs to be met with smart policy to help people shift their expectations for free/easy parking over time. I think that shift is happening, but it is tricky to balance with other issues (lots of construction downtown, etc). One thing is pretty clear though, from planning literature, creating more vehicle infrastructure (parking, wider roads) will not solve congestion/problems. People will fill whatever supply is available and will have no incentive to change their behaviour.

    Regina has some great destinations – Montreal and Toronto just have more of them (and with larger populations and more tourism can support some larger cultural institutions). Don’t think for a second that people here don’t complain about parking issues and begrudge taking transit. It’s just that there is less supply than demand so people have few other options than to suck it up and take transit or walk. It is very inconvenient for people to own a car in Montreal – traffic (especially downtown) is horrible and stressful as hell. From these circumstances people build new habits.

  26. I’d also like to suggest that downtown businesses which provide parking stalls for their employees (which can cost around $100/month/stall depending on the location), offer a similar monthly financial incentive for employees to take transit or walk ($80/month could cover a transit pass as well as a little extra).

  27. BTW I’m not saying people won’t ever head downtown and there’s nothing there – there are tons of fine establishments (Crave, O’Hanlons, La Bodega, etc.) and events (Folk Festival, outdoor movie screenings, other events in Vic Park, Wascana! which is downtown to me) that people frequent.

    It’s the frequent situation of “lets grab an easy supper at a restaurant or beers with the boys” for people not living downtown – parking is a disincentive when Browns is right there with their $4 beers and big fancy parking lot. But if you build an attraction, they will come, and they do, but maybe just not as much as preferred for a more vibrant downtown.

    I’d also love that free $80 for riding my bike to work. And you’re right, its a culture change that takes some doing. I know people from here that lived in those locations for years and it wasn’t no big deal to walk 30 minutes to a location downtown, but now back in Regina it’s “load up the vehicle, we ain’t got no time for that walking.”

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