In case you missed it: yesterday, Paul “I’m In Malta” Dechene broke the news that Regina’s executive director of city planning and development has quit his job with the city for one with a developer.
Today, the city has issued a press release. Here it is:
Jason Carlston, Executive Director of the City Planning and Development Division, has notified the City that he is resigning his position to accept the position of Vice President, Land Development with Dream Developments. As a result of this transition, his responsibilities with the City have been assumed by Diana Hawryluk on an interim basis.
“Jason has made many contributions to the City over the last 16 years, including leading the recent development of Design Regina: Official Community Plan,” said Brent Sjoberg, Deputy City Manager & COO. “While we’ll miss Jason’s leadership, he will continue to play a strong role in our community through this next stage of his career.”
The City will undertake a recruitment process to fill this important position. Given the strength of Regina’s economy and the opportunities this role provides, the City is expecting a dynamic group of individuals will be vying for the position.
So what’s the big deal about a senior city planner taking a job with a Regina developer? Well, frankly, it just looks really bad. It’s common knowledge that Regina’s council and administration have been far too pro-developer/property owner for a long time*, and the fact that one of our planners — a person whose job it is to make planning recommendations for the good of the city rather than just the good of developers — would move to a developer seems worrisome. It suggests a relationship that’s too damn cozy.
Remember, this is a city that fired one of its best planners a few years back for god-knows-what reason (I suspect he stood up to developers). And that planner we fired? The one who wasn’t good enough for us? That guy we got rid of in a move Jason Carlston called “a change of leadership”? He’s now Halifax’s chief planner. Gee, maybe we fired the wrong person back in 2011. Gee, maybe our city has made some serious mistakes. And maybe, it’s time our stale, super-duper pro-business council and developer-friendly city administration take a long look at themselves if they really wants “a dynamic group of individuals” to apply for Carlston’s position.
And maybe it’s time more people who live in this city start paying attention to city politics.
*Off the top of my head: approving condo conversions during a housing crisis, bulldozing affordable apartments for parking lots during the same housing crisis, rejecting heritage applications for 100-year-old buildings, etc., etc., etc.