The Last Legal Rally?

Terrorists are the Babadook of Canadian politics that lies underneath our collective beds, hides in closets, (get it? The closet reference?), and watches us from the bushes through the windows. We need fear. We need to know that we matter.

We are wetting the bed to cock-block the terrorists that will otherwise penetrate us. The Harper Stain will be hard to get rid of. There is no turning of the mattress or letting it air this time.

I think this bill will pass. I think this is the last rally of freedom fighters before they are deemed terrorists. Free speech and public rallies are now no longer an option. And journalism is at stake too. Here are some pics of people who care from the Bill-C51 rally today.

Emmalyn rocking the fist.
Emmalyn rocking the fist.
Bill Clary
Bill Clary

Not terrorists.

Oh! Canada.

No Really, Capitalists Should TOTALLY Be Backing The Yes Side, Amirite? — An Interview With Brent Sjoberg

Regina Water War - Referendum 2013Hey! Look at this! I actually did do an interview with deputy city manager, Brent Sjoberg, executive lead on the waste water sewage plant P3. Just last week. And I transcribed the whole dang thing.

Maybe I’m not such a lazy toad, afterall.¹

I basically asked Sjoberg the same questions I asked the Mayor in that interview excerpt I posted yesterday. Sjoberg’s answers, though, were a little more… erm… comprehensive. (Interview clocks in at a whopping 3,000 words.)

So, as for why aren’t sewage treatment companies supporting the Yes side and trying to stop these P3s from happening, Sjoberg gave me a very detailed answer that ends with…

One of the factors is with P3s, they are a long term contract. And they are larger contracts. I mentioned in this case the P3 would not only be in construction but in the ongoing operations and maintenance. Instead of, to use the P3 numbers, instead of a $224 million project it’s a $760 million project over 30 years. That’s a big project. It’s attractive and that’s the business that they’re in. So usually they’re well versed on various different models and they do assessment of each project and determine that there’s something for them and that’s part of our process.

On the subject of how water rates will be set through the P3, I was under the impression that the waste water portion of the rate could fluctuate and so the private partner might be able to influence the rate over the lifespan of the project. Sjoberg says no.

What ends up happening under a P3 procurement and contract is the rates paid to the private consortium for operating and maintenance are determined in advance. For the duration of the 30 years. So that’s the I guess a little bit of the benefit of having a competitive process. So each of the consortiums are bidding on the project not only for the construction portion but they’re also bidding on it for the 30 year maintenance.

And as for what kind of reporting requirements will be on the private partner and what form they’ll take, Sjoberg explained it this way…

The contract that is structured with them has a whole level of performance requirements and reporting requirements. There’s compliance reviews and all kinds of work going on on a regular basis. At the administrative level they would be reporting to the city more often than they would be to council. I can’t say specifically if there’s a requirement for them to report to council. In any event the administration would do that as part of our regular process.

In the interest of providing maximum pre-referendum info-dumpage, I’m posting the entire interview below.

Continue reading “No Really, Capitalists Should TOTALLY Be Backing The Yes Side, Amirite? — An Interview With Brent Sjoberg”

Why Aren’t The Capitalists Backing Regina Water Watch? An Interview With Mayor Michael Fougere

Regina Water War - Referendum 2013Hey Regina. How’re things? I’ve been on holidays. Sorry, booked them long before you decided to kick your autumn off with a “referendum.” Mind you, I left detailed instructions with our esteemed editor, S. Whitworth Esq., about stuff that needed covering on the waste water sewage P3 vote but apparently he fukken ignored them.

In my absence, I hear Chad Novak has been scooping the hell out of us on the referendum front. I wouldn’t know. My first week of holiday was spent in the Narrow Hills without any access to the internet. I read a book. It was a great experience. These books they make out of paper nowadays are awesome. I predict they’re totally going to overtake laptops and iWhatsits as text readers. I can’t believe I used to do all my reading on a backlit screen.

How primitive.

Anyway, since I got back to civilization — such as it is — I’ve been doing the domestic bliss thing, paying exclusive attention to first days of Grade Two and waffle making. And as for the internet, if it was about something other than comic books, I didn’t read it.

Then the other day, our next door neighbour put up a “Vote Yes” sign on their lawn and I thought, “Ah shit, right. Referendum. I should write something about that.”

Fortunately, I had something in the can all ready to put on the web and here it is! An interview with our mayor, Michael Fougere about P3s, private companies and profit margins returns on investment.

Continue reading “Why Aren’t The Capitalists Backing Regina Water Watch? An Interview With Mayor Michael Fougere”

The Mayor Called Me Last Night, How About You?

This Week at City HallTwitter was all abuzz last night with tales of people receiving phone calls from a recorded Mayor Michael Fougere, entreating them to vote “No” in the upcoming waste water treatment plant P3 referendum. There was even a comment on the blog about it.

Of course, Fougere didn’t refer to it as a waste water treatment plant, the phrase is sewage treatment plant now.

I know this because I also received one of these automated calls. I found it a little off-putting because I’m actually expecting a call from the Mayor to interview him about the referendum. So when I picked up the phone and heard, “Hello, this is Mayor Michael Fougere.” I was like, “Oh, thanks for getting back to me.”

I was three quarters the way through my interview questions before I realized I was talking to a recording.

Continue reading “The Mayor Called Me Last Night, How About You?”

Game On! WE HAZ REFERENDUM!

83B_9840Tonight, at a special meeting of council to consider the rejection of Regina Water Watch’s petition, Mayor Fougere moved to call a referendum on the waste water plant P3.

He also moved the question on the petition should be the same as the one used on the Regina Water petition.

A vote was held and the motion passed unanimously.

And that means we’re having a referendum in probably around eight weeks.

I think it’s safe to call this a big win for the people who came out to speak tonight and for all those who collected the 24,000 names on the RWW petition. And it also strikes me as a pretty daring move by Mayor Fougere.

With that, I’m going to bury myself under a blanket and write a story about this for the next issue of Prairie Dog. It comes out on Thursday.

Last Chance To Vote In Best Of Food!

Best of Food 2013Today is the last day you can vote in Best of Food 2013. If you haven’t voted yet, you should for several important reasons: 1.) On voter will win $500 in gift certificates to Regina restaurants, and the odds of winning are not insane. 2.) The more votes, the more meaningful the results! 3.) Restaurants and dining out are an important part of civilization and by voting in this poll, we honour this mighty truth. 4.) While I’m typing this, someone is voting McDonald’s Fillet O’ Fish the Best Seafood. You’ve gotta stop them! With your democracy powers! 5.) THERE IS A PRIZE! DID I MENTION THE PRIZE? THERE IS A $500 PRIZE!

Polls close at NOON (-ish)! So vote!

For Posterity

VicPark(southeast)The forecast high for Regina today is plus 8 degrees C. Double digit temperatures in the 12-13 degree C range are also forecast for Friday and Saturday. So it looks like the long-awaited spring melt is finally upon us.

To help future generations appreciate what we’ve endured over the last six months or so, here’s a photograph of Victoria Park taken this morning from the Cenotaph facing south-east (click to enlarge).

May we never see a winter like this again. Although with the worst effects of climate change, especially at the polar regions, still to come, I wouldn’t bet against it.

Pick of the Day: Jazzfest Regina Fundraiser

The line-up for JazzFest Regina 2013 hasn’t been set yet, but the dates have been announced for this annual celebration of jazz music that includes a mix of ticketed and free events that take place at indoor and outdoor venues. This year’s festival will be held June 12-16. To help the Regina Jazz Society raise some cash to put the festival on a fundraiser is being held tonight at the Casino Regina Lounge. The evening will start with a silent auction that gets going at 6 p.m., and that will be followed by a performance by Canadian jazz legend Holly Cole at 8 p.m.

Tickets are $30 for lower level seating and $25 for upper level seating. And to give you a taste of what awaits here’s video from a 2012 concert DVD that Cole released called Steal the Night: Live at the Glen Gould Studio where she performs the classic “I Can See Clearly Now”:

Local Film-Makers In Running For $1 Million Prize

When CineCoup launched on Feb. 28, 90 three-person Canadian film-making teams were in the running. Now, only 40 remain. And in a round of on-line voting April 25-28 that number will be pared to 15. In the weeks to come the list will be whittled further until one team is left standing. At stake is $1 million in funding and related tax credits (except in Saskatchewan, of course) which the winning team will use to shoot their film, with a commitment from Cineplex to screen it in its big-screen theatres in the winter of 2014.

You can read more about CineCoup, and its Vancouver-based founder J. Joly in this Globe & Mail report. But the general idea is to use social media to build buzz about Canadian Indie films before they’re made to improve the odds of them actually being made, and then enjoying a degree of commercial success once they’re released.

Here’s some CineCoup FAQs. As a condition of entry, all 90 teams produced two-minute trailers that people who log onto the CineCoup website can view and rank with their favourites advancing to the next round. They can also offer comments on the trailers so the film-making teams get feedback on what they’re doing.  So overall it’s a neat idea.

One team that entered and is still in the running is from Regina. Lowell Dean is the writer/director, and the project is called Wolf Cop. It’s a horror flick about a cop who… well, I don’t want to spoil the trailer posted below, so I’ll just leave it at that. Other than to note that Dean and his partners Bernie Hernando (producer, marketing) and Crystal van Pelt (publicity, social media) would probably appreciate any support you’d be inclined to give them.

The voting process has some wrinkles in it to accommodate people who are really keen to get involved (Superfans they’re called). But once you register it’s relatively simple to cast a single vote.  So let your conscience be your guide.

Once More Into The Breach

Avengers 10With all that’s been happening in the world lately it feels a little weird to discuss this but it’s not everyday that Regina gets featured in a comic book.

Way back in December Marvel Comics relaunched their Avengers title with a brand new series. In the first issue The Avengers are fighting an evil space bad guy, Ex Nihilo, who has launched a couple of missiles at Earth. They hit Perth, Australia and Regina, Canada. In that issue Regina is only mentioned. Nothing is actually shown. We wrote about it when the issue came out.

Well in today’s issue of the Avengers, #10 to be precise, the Avengers return to Regina to see what happened.

Continue reading “Once More Into The Breach”

Sask MP Wants To Shuffle Cathedral Out Of Proposed Regina-Lewvan Riding

Lukiwski's riding jiggery-pokeryOne of the major changes that the federal boundary commission proposed for Regina is the creation of the urban-only Regina-Lewvan riding. It will take up all of the western side of the city.

Seeing as the Conservative Party is none too happy with the idea of urban-only ridings finally coming to Saskatchewan, they’d rather not see this be created.

And after Saskatoon-Wanuskewin MP Maurice Vellacott finished raging before the Procedure and House Affairs Committee about how the boundary commission is biased, Regina-Lumsden-Lake Centre MP Tom Lukiwski proposed his own solution.

He told the Procedure and House Affairs Committee that while he doesn’t agree with the boundary commission’s proposal he understands that they’re hell-bent on bringing in urban-only ridings. Accepting that, he thinks their map would be improved if they moved the Cathedral neighbourhood out of the new urban-only Regina-Lewvan riding and into the one urban-rural split riding, Regina-Qu-Appelle, home of house speaker, Andrew Scheer.

The proposed Regina-Lewvan riding is in that image above, with the part Lukiwski wants moved coloured green. Click to embiggen.

Lukiwski’s reasoning is that he anticipates great growth in the Harbour Landing neighbourhood and in years to come that will make the Regina-Lewvan riding over populated. By shifting Cathedral to Regina-Qu-Appelle, Regina-Lewvan will be under populated for a while but can be free to grow in future.

A conspiratorially minded fellow, however, might think this is a move to gerrymander Regina’s ridings and shift Cathedral’s often-NDP-friendly voters into an riding where their votes will be offset by Conservative-friendly rural votes.

But that’s just what a conspiratorially-minded fellow might think.

Now there’s no reason to think the Procedure and House Affairs Committeee will pay any attention to Lukiwski — although, based on his chummy testimony with them, it sounds like he was once a member of that committee and the men on it seem to hold him in some regard. But even after the committee makes their recommendation, the boundary commission doesn’t have to take them into account in their final plan.

Either way, seems the boundary commission fight is far from over.

You can listen to the complete April 16 meeting of the Procedure and House Affairs Committee meeting at this link.

Pick Of The Day: Juno Week

When it comes to hosting national events like the Grey Cup and Scotties, we’ve got it down to a science. The Junos, though, are a different kettle of fish. They fall firmly in the arts/culture category, and the area they focus on (contemporary Canadian Music) is terra incognito for more than a few people.

Without tooting our own horn too much, I think Prairie Dog does a reasonable job of covering the Canadian indie pop, rock and folk music scene. Other media outlets in the city though (cough, commercial radio, cough) not so much. The Leader-Post has its moments too, but it also covers a lot of retro cheese.

When it comes to hosting the Junos, we’ll be hard-pressed to measure up to the standard of Vancouver, Montreal, Toronto and other indie music hotbeds. But hopefully everything will run smoothly, and we’ll show the rest of Canada that there’s more to us than just our obsession with watching green-clad men in tight uniforms play football. Here’s a breakdown of events that will be happening in the next few days.

Tonight, there’s a live broadcast of the CBC radio program Q With Jian Ghomeshi at Conexus Arts Centre (7 p.m. $22-$27). Guests will include Tom Cochrane, k.d. lang, Corb Lund, Bahamas and Dragonette. Also on tonight is a concert under the bigtop at City Square Plaza that will feature the Grapes of Wrath with Fly Points, Indigo Joseph and Jason Plumb & the Willing. It gets going at 5 p.m. and tickets are $15.

Friday and Saturday the feature event is JunoFest. It’s a showcase of over 100 bands (perhaps 40 per cent from Saskatchewan, the rest from across the country) that takes place at 17 venues in Regina and Moose Jaw. You can pay individual admission charges at the venues, but your best bet is to pick up a wrist band for $30 that will grant you priority access to all the venues. We’re publishing a JunoFest guide in our April 18 issue so it will give you the lowdown on everyone who will be performing. Or visit the Juno website and check the events tab.

Also on Friday, the Juno Cup, which pits a team of former NHLers against a team of Canadian musicians goes in Moose Jaw at  7:30 p.m.

On Saturday, the second night of JunoFest will be held, along with Juno Fan Fare, a meet and greet between fans and musicians that goes at the Cornwall Centre from noon to 3 p.m.  Then on Sunday, there’s the Juno Songwriters’ Circle at Casino Regina from noon to 2 p.m. It’s being hosted by Tom Cochrane and will feature participation from Kathleen Edwards, Colin James, Bahamas, Danny Michel and more. It will be followed by the Juno Awards gala at Brandt Centre at 5:45 p.m. The gala, by the way, will also be simulcast at City Square Plaza.

To close, here’s Classified’s 2010 video for “Oh… Canada”. He’ll be in town for JunoFest, headlining a show at City Square Plaza on Saturday night:

Defiance Debuts On SyFy Channel

TrennaLike Tatiana Maslany’s star turn in a new science-fiction series Orphan Black on BBC Americaformer Saskatchewan resident Trenna Keating (born in Weyburn, studied at the University of Regina in the Fine Arts Department) has a prominent role in a new SF series/on-line game that premiered on the SyFy channel last night called Defiance

You can read more about the show, plus see an interview with Trenna where she discusses her character (an alien named Doc Yewll) here . And that’s a photo of Trenna in character at left.

Exciting Goings-On On Scarth St. Mall

Scarth PigeonsThe other day the City of Regina announced plans to take a more adventuresome tack in allowing downtown pubs and restaurants to establish temporary sidewalk patios similar to what O’Hanlon’s and the Copper Kettle have done for over ten years.  The patios would operate from late spring through early fall and would be facilitated by the attachment of wooden boardwalks to existing sidewalks for pedestrians to use.

For people with mobility issues, that probably presents a bit of a challenge so care must be taken to ensure the boardwalks are solidly built and properly installed. Care should also be taken to regulate traffic around the patios. One reason the O’Hanlon’s/Copper Kettle patio has been so successful is that Scarth at that point is not a thru street so it generally doesn’t see that much traffic and the traffic it does see generally moves at a slower speed. That wouldn’t be the case on Hamilton, Broad or other thru streets and avenues in the downtown. Anyway, the proposal is supposed to go to City Council on April 29.

As for the above photo, it’s where Beer Brothers has its own outdoor patio. It’s on the pedestrian mall, so traffic, outside of the odd vehicle that mistakenly enters the mall off 11th Ave., isn’t a problem. But apparently there is another hazard in the form of pigeons that roost in the pediment of the old Northern Bank building which sits above the patio. Today, a crew is there rousting the pigeons and spraying some substance to discourage them from returning — along with cleaning pigeon poop off the building facade and supporting columns.

Pitching A Tent

Plaza TentHere’s a shot from a few minutes ago of the tent going up on City Square Plaza in preparation for the Juno Awards which are in Regina next week. The official Juno dates are listed as April 15-21. Events that will be happening in the tent that I’m aware of include the following:

Thursday April 18 Grapes of Wrath, Fly Points, Indigo Joseph and Jason Plumb & the Willing will be playing. Start time is 5 p.m. and tickets are $15. Friday and Saturday, admission will be via a $30 wrist band that allows access to 17 venues in Regina and Moose Jaw as part of JunoFest. The line-up Friday is Rah Rah, Two Hours Traffic, Foam Lake and Slow Down, Molasses starting at 8 p.m. Saturday there’s a hip hop show with Classified, SonReal & Rich Kidd, Kayo and Quake starting at 8 p.m. Then on Sunday there will be a simulcast of the Juno Awards show from Brandt Centre (assuming it goes from there as scheduled) at 5:45 p.m..

The tent will remain in place for Saskatchewan Fashion Week which happens May 9-11. Then come Grey Cup time, I imagine the tent will be returning to the plaza. In 1995 and 2003 there was an outdoor tent on 19 block Scarth that proved to be a hit with revelers.

Update On Regina Plains Museum

Last August, the Regina Plains Museum, which was located on 18 block Scarth St. across from our office on the mall, announced it would be closing to accommodate a move to a new facility with expanded exhibition and programming space to better showcase the 10,000 artifacts it has in its permanent collection.

Today, it was announced that the museum, whose mandate encompasses the settlement history of Regina and the development of the city through the 20th century, will be moving to 1375 Broad St. The street address is right beside the Saskatchewan Arts Board so I assume it will occupy space in the whitish one-story building that runs for a sizable chunk of that block.

In addition to relocating, the Regina Plains Museum will also operate under the name Civic Museum of Regina. The museum is supposed to be open by August and further information will be available once the new website (www.civicmuseumofregina.com) is up and running.

Two-Way Traffic Time

The City has an electronic sign up near the corner of Victoria Ave. and Smith St. stating that starting April 1 Victoria Ave between McIntyre and Albert St. will be two-way. There’s no mention of how long that will be the case, or whether it will be the east-bound or west-bound lanes of Victoria that will be closed.

If it’s the latter I wonder if it has anything to do with some possible work being done at the Capitol Pointe site? Or maybe it’s just an elaborate April Fool’s Day joke?