Been very busy lately and haven’t been writing these weekly city hall updates. (Although, we cover a lot of what would go in TWACH in that podcast we’ve been doing.) But there’s just too much big news and hilarity on offer this week that I had to share.

For instance, at tomorrow’s Community and Protective Services committee meeting, we’ll finally be hearing staff’s recommendation about the care and keeping of pot bellied pigs and urban chickens. As you may recall, while cities across North America are rethinking their bans on keeping certain types of livestock within city limits, Regina has just gotten around to banning them. And some folk are upset that they won’t be able to keep pet pigs in their homes or chicken coops in their backyards.

Well, the city admin had a big think about that and are recommending that Regina not have an exemption for those animals. So, no pigs, no coops.

But that’s not the funny part. Staff went to the Regina Humane Society and asked them their opinion on the issue and they’ve replied that they’re none too keen on the idea of people keeping pot-bellied pigs as pets….

Seeing as this letter (which I lifted from the pdf the clerk’s office puts out) seems to have been scanned at the “mostly illegible” setting, I’ll summarize: The line I’ve underlined says that one reason the Humane Society doesn’t want anyone keeping a pet pig is because if that pet gets abandoned, “Euthanasia is complicated, as is disposal.”

Really? Of a pig?

Now, if I were running the Humane Society I’d be firmly in the pro-pig camp and that sentence would read, “The euthanasia of pigs will not be a problem and disposal will be delicious.”

At xmas I’d run ads like, “Did you know pigs are twice as smart as dogs?” “Pigs are cleaner than cats,” and “Don’t you think your family deserves Some Pig?” Then in a few months, when all of Regina’s new pig owners are calling me, fed up with the endless wallowing and slopping and tusk filing — not to mention the incessant clacking of hooves on hardwood — I’d be all sympathetic, “Oh yes, they are an awful lot of trouble aren’t they? Bring the little porker round here. We’ll find a good home for him.”

And by “home” I’d mean “my belly.”

Yessir, it’d be a very different Humane Society with me in charge.

More city hall shenanigans after the break…

Tuesday, October 11
Damn! Dawdled on getting this TWACH written and now this is going live after the RPC meets. Curses! I’m not current!

Anyway, only one item on the agenda today (is it just me or have the committee agendas been awfully short of late? it’s almost like there’s hardly anything going on downtown….) and that’s an application to build a office tower on the 1800 block of Rose Street. Interesting thing here is that you get to see the before and after renderings of what this building looked like when it was first brought before city administration and what it looks like once they’ve applied some of that Downtown Neighbourhood Plan bonussing mojo on the thing.

Have to say that while I’m still not sold on this whole “modern architecture schtick” with it’s rectangles and walls of glass (why the hell is ornament still anathema in architecture? Bring back the gargoyles, I say!), the new renderings looks a damn sight better than the original.

I would like to comment on how the building is going to be laid out on the inside, unfortunately, that’s pretty much impossible thanks to the crap scanning job that was done on the floorplans.

Here, have a gander (at right). That’s what the image looks like when you zoom in to read the thing. I think instead of “mostly illegible” they opted for their scanner’s “scramble” setting this time around.

What I’m curious about is where this ground floor retail is going to be located and how large the rentable spaces are going to be. That’ll give a good idea of the kind of retail we’ll see there and how affordable it’ll end up being. No sense encouraging all these buildings to have retail in them if the only tenants they’re going to end up with are banks, financial advisers and insurance companies. Those are handy to have, sure, but they won’t exactly contribute to a lively streetscape.

We need room downtown for little shwarma restaurants, noodle shops and bookstores. But all I can tell from this mangled drawing is that somewhere there will be USF[SMEAR]E A[SMEAR]A (which I assume refers to some vague USEABLE AREA) and that there will also be VIMKAL PLMTRMTNAS (VERTICAL PENETRATIONS, I’m betting and that just sounds kind of threatening). But I can’t tell where any of this will be located because the colour has been washed out. I’d ask for clarification but as you can see, I missed the meeting.

Anyway, onward…

PUBLIC WORKS COMMITTEE (4pm): Only one item on the agenda here too and that has to do with garbage collection.

Good news if you live in a neighbourhood with a back alley: The city will be replacing your stinking metal dumpster with a plastic roll-out bin but you won’t have to figure out a way to store that bin in your likely-garageless front yard. The city will continue to pick up your garbage in the back alley.

The changeover will be completed by the fall of 2012 and will affect about 30,000 households.

Apparently, the reason this has been a big to-do is because when Public Works purchased their fleet of garbage trucks that can automatically dump plastic bins, they bought trucks that were too big to maneuver Regina’s many back alleys. I guess city hall just couldn’t foresee that they’d need to do a crazy thing like drive their new trucks down the same laneways as they’ve been driving their old trucks.

You know, come to think of it, seeing as foresight is apparently such a problem, maybe I should’ve picked them up a crystal ball when I was at that paranormal fair last month.

Anyway, they’ve ordered six new, smaller trucks that’ll be delivered in early 2012 so problem solved.

Wednesday, October 12
EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE (11:45 am): So, while the implementation of the city’s spiff new waste plan crawls along (see above), staff are zipping ahead with a pilot project on tablet devices, per a council request in May. Seems that while recycling in Regina is about 15 years behind the times, we’re going to be ahead of the curve on council getting spiffy new iPads.

Personally, I’m thinking this is an area where caution is good idea as tablets are far from a proven technology and the whole handheld device market is in total flux. And I have serious doubts these things are going to lead to the long-promised paperless office anytime soon. But, hey, everybody loves to get a new gadget especially if their employer is paying. My only question is, will we have a recycling program before these things are obsolete and headed for the landfill?

COMMUNITY AND PROTECTIVE SERVICES COMMITTEE (4:00 pm): As mentioned above, the committee has been looking into exemptions for people to be able to keep pot-bellied pigs and urban chickens. Staff are recommending no on both. The committee has also been pondering changing the bylaw infraction fines so that fines would escalate as you racked up multiple infractions. Staff are saying this is probably pointless seeing as most multiple infractions are violations of the Weed Control Act. And besides, nobody they’ve spoken to seems to like the idea.

Lastly, the committee is now officially looking into ways to fund the restoration of the Davin Fountain which used to reside in Victoria Park but is presently moldering in storage. That sounds like a grand idea to me and is a nice, upbeat note to end this TWACH on.

As you may have heard, the city has a website and on it you can find more to read about this week’s various meetings and such. Because reading is fun and you can never download too many thrilling city hall reports.