Monday, December 6
MUNICIPAL HERITAGE ADVISORY COMMITTEE (12:15 pm): City staff will be presenting an overview of the Statements of Significance on downtown buildings and the Historical Context Report on Regina’s Recent Past.
Tuesday, December 7
FINANCE AND ADMINISTRATION COMMITTEE (4 pm): So you guys know what I think about McCallum Hill Parkade at 1825 Cornwall Street, right? In short: it’s an eyesore. An embarrassment. Well, guess what. That piece of crap — which is owned by your friends at Harvard Property Management — has so far warranted 15 years worth of tax exemptions. And Harvard is applying for three more years. How much will that add up to once the tax exemptions expire in 2013?
Yep. Seems back in 1995, some pack of jokers the city council of the day decided to guarantee Harvard over half-a-million dollars in property tax exemptions and there’s still $69,000 to go on that agreement. We either forgo three more years of municipal revenue or buy Harvard out.
Now, I’m all for using tax exemptions to encourage the development of stuff the city needs — like, say, places for people to live. But what did we get for our half-a-million with this parkade? A place for people — many of them employees of the Hill Towers — to abandon their cars for a few hours a day.
When city hall was negotiating this deal back in ’95, couldn’t they have at least said, “We’re in effect handing you half-a-million dollars. Could you, you know, not make this parkade really fucking butt ugly?”
A side note: Back at the August 23 city council meeting, on the subject of another of Harvard’s downtown parkades — the one on Rose Street and 12th (which, I’ll add, looks a hell of a lot better than the one on Cornwall) — Councillor Clipsham asked Harvard’s vice-president of leasing if her company was thinking about doing something to enliven that building’s façade. The Harvard rep replied (and I’m paraphrasing here) that Harvard understands that façade renovation is something that the city is interested in and they’re looking into it. The implication was that all this concern about architectural aesthetics was some surprising new concern of the city’s and, gosh-by-golly, now that they’ve been informed of this, Harvard’ll do their jim-dandiest best to rise to that challenge.
No. This is not a new thing. People always want the city they live in to be lovely. They want streets that are attractive and interesting to walk down. They don’t want buildings that look like they were modeled after industrial chicken coops. People give a shit about what their city looks like.
It’s the builders of insults like the McCallum Hill Parkade who don’t seem to give a shit.
Of course, what am I saying? It could have been worse, right? At least it’s a parking garage and not more surface parking.
Ahem. So… as for the rest of the meeting…. The committee will be looking at extending Regina Public School’s lease for the building at 1915 Retallack. They’ll also be setting their meeting dates for 2011.
Wednesday, December 8
REGINA PLANNING COMMISSION (4 pm): A delegation submitted a brief to RPC this week that protests a housing development proposed for the Coronation Park neighbourhood.
Before I get into the substance of this, some graphic design tips for all delegations to city council or committees: In writing your brief, don’t set great swathes of text in bold. Also, DON’T SET GREAT SWATHES IN ALL CAPS. And for gods’ sake, whatever you do, DON’T SET GREAT SWATHES OF TEXT IN BOTH BOLD AND ALL CAPS. As Awesome Klassen, prairie dog designer extraordinaire says, “If you’re going to do all that, you may as well set the thing in Comic Sans.” Any brief that breaks all those rules is going to look like some crazed, end-times manifesto you find jammed under you windshield wiper. And it won’t help your case any if your “brief” comes in at a whopping 92 pages.
Look, I don’t want to be an asshole, but avoiding these traps — as SEDUCTIVE AS ALL-CAPS BOLD COMIC SANS CAN BE SOMETIMES — will keep you from looking like a raving lunatic.
As for the housing complex that has inspired so much criminal misuse of the Caps Lock, it’s being put together by a company called Silver Sage. They’re a First Nations company and the complex they’re planning is slated to go in at 4001 3rd Ave, next to The Gathering Place. The goal is to build affordable-rental townhouses that will cater to low-to-mid income First Nations’ families and a low-rise apartment complex for First Nations’ seniors.
Some of the community concerns meticulously detailed in their 92-PAGE BRIEF include the way the city seems to be concentrating its affordable housing in a few, inner-city neighbourhoods — they wonder why developments like this aren’t going up in Harbour Landing. A legitimate question. But one has to wonder if demanding a good-looking affordable housing project get scrapped for this reason isn’t a little like cutting off a desperately-needed housing nose to spite an obnoxiously-pretty suburban face.
Other concerns include the fact that their neighbourhood already has a crime problem and this project will only exacerbate it. The city points out that based on a CPTED (Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design) analysis, replacing a dark, unpatrolled vacant lot with housing tends to reduce crime in an area.
Anyway, watch the next print issue for more on this development.
Also up at RPC this week are some parks that need renaming, offices proposed for the Tuxedo subdivision and the Warehouse District, a rezoning to accommodate the new Arcola School, a proposed condo development for 2300-2314 Broad Street, a report about the condition of the Davin Fountain, and the meeting dates for 2011.
That’s it for this week. For complete agendas and reports, go to the city’s website.