Another council meeting? But I just survived last Tuesday’s budget marathon. And here we are six days later and they want to do it all over again? I can’t even show up at 5:30 this afternoon secure that all the contentious stuff is out of the way and this will be a short and easy one.
Because there’s some mightily contentious stuff on tonight’s agenda too.
For instance, council will be giving approval to the waste water treatment plant financing plan, the centerpiece of which being a recommendation to seek out a 30-year, public private partnership to cover the design, construction, financing, maintenance and operations of the plant.
Couple things about that: We ran a piece in the last issue on this in which we interviewed a couple critics of P3 deals. And the response to date from readers (at least the one I’ve heard from which is, admittedly, a self selected group) has been as far as I know enthusiastic and supportive. Also, this is the second P3 deal that council has voted on in the last several months — the other being the P3 for the stadium — but the waste water plant deal is the only one that has provoked much in the way of opposition.
I think all that indicates that there’s some discomfort with the idea of the private sector taking over a portion of the water cycle. Tonight, council gets its shot to try and assuage the fears of the P3 skeptics.
Also on the agenda, council will set the date for Mayor Michael Fougere’s Housing Summit. Plan is for it to run the week of May 13.
This recommendation comes just in the nick of time as council has been coming under fire for putting priorities like the stadium funding plan ahead of dealing with the housing crisis. Of course, this summit is just a meeting to consider possible ways to improve Regina’s housing shortfall. It isn’t actual action on the file. So I don’t know if setting a date for the summit will completely silence the critics.
UPDATE: To my embarrassment, the recommendation to put up a parking lot at 1755 Hamilton is not going to council tonight.
The report, RPC13-12 recommending the rezoning that would allow a surface lot was considered and approved by planning commission at their Feb 13 meeting. I assumed at the time that it would come to this council meeting and wrote this blurb, like, last week before even seeing the council agenda. But for some reason that report isn’t coming forward today.
I screwed up. I apologize. But I’ll leave my blurb alone below because that report will be coming to council for approval at some point.
The final big thing on tonight’s agenda [Coming to some council agenda someday] is a recommendation from admin to allow a temporary parking lot on the site of 1755 Hamilton Street.
Not surprisingly, the report glosses over the history of that site — namely, that it was once the site of 46 units of affordable housing but staff granted the property owner a demolition permit last year. Fortunately, we’ve been covering the story pretty closely so here are a few of the pieces we’ve published on it…
• Renters Lose Again (Jan 26, 2012)
• Learned Helplessness (Feb 09, 2012)
• It’s Not Quite Dead Yet (Feb 23, 2012)
• People Used To Live Here (April 1, 2012)
• More Ranting About How The City Has Failed Renters (June 18, 2012)
• Parking As Predicted (Oct 04, 2012)
• Westland Tries To Buy Time With Fancy Drawings (Nov 1, 2012)
Needless to say, I’m not a fan of staff’s recommendation. Allowing a parking lot on this site — even a temporary one — is a betrayal of the Downtown Plan. We’ll see if council does anything with this beyond voting to let the parking lot happen. I’m not hopeful.
There’s more on the agenda but this covers all the really interesting bits. The meeting kicks off at 5:30 tonight. If things break up before 11pm, I’ll try to get an update on the blog before I head to bed.
You can read the agenda on the city’s website here. As always, I’ll live-tweet the meeting: Twitter handle @PaulDechene.