Infill Housing and You

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If only all infill housing paid this kind of attention to scale.

If you spend any time taking notice of your surroundings in this city, you’ve probably remarked on all the infill housing that has cropped up in recent years. In theory, infill is a good way to retain density in neighbourhoods by developing housing in areas otherwise occupied by vacant lots. At its best, it’s well designed and affordable. In practice, however (particularly in Regina, it seems), “infill” is too often used as short hand for “ugly and cheap”, and those who call out its objectionable design are frequently (and unfairly) accused of NIMBYism. But why should this be? We’ve built beautiful, well considered, modest housing in the past, and we can do it again, right?

In any case, the City of Regina is holding two public engagement sessions to address the issue of infill housing and how it works within Design Regina’s Official Community Plan.

The first session, an “Infill and Intensification Kick-Off Meeting and Public Workshop” will be held on Monday June 8, (6 – 9pm). The second session, “Introduction to Laneway and Garden Suites Guidelines” will be on Tuesday June 23 (6-9pm). Both sessions will be held at Knox-Metropolitan Church (2340 Victoria Avenue).
Now you know.

 

Living Skies Student Film Festival

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These are certainly interesting times for Saskatchewan filmmakers. In the wake of everything that has happened in the industry over the past few years, it’s always encouraging to hear about a new crop of people making and showing new work. There’s usually a case to be made for optimism and, in this case, if anything says “optimistic” it’s a bunch of bright-eyed young things putting together a celebration of student film.

The Living Skies Student Film Festival is organized by students in the University of Regina’s Department of Film, and has been presenting selections of nascent brilliance for over twenty years. The event runs from tonight until Saturday (March 5 – 7) at the ShuBox Theatre in the Riddell Centre and features work from across Canada, the U.S., and the United Kingdom. A special guest this year is Regina native Gabe Hordos, who works with animation powerhouse Dreamworks in Los Angeles, and was the supervising animator on How to Train Your Dragon. He’ll be giving a presentation tonight at 7pm (followed by a screening of the film) and another talk on Saturday afternoon. Local filmmaker and UofR alumnus Adrian Dean (creator of the popular CityTV Saskatchewan children’s series Doowett), will present a 2-D animation workshop on Friday. And the whole thing wraps up with a party and awards presentation (complete with red carpet) on Saturday night.

ShuBox Theatre, University of Regina Riddell Centre, 3737 Wascana Pkwy

All screenings and talks are free. 

Tickets for the Saturday night awards gala are $10 in advance and $12 at the door.

For more info and a full schedule, check out the festival’s website: http://lsfilmfest.com/

No Strip Club For You, Regina

Many of you are either very relieved or really annoyed because Regina isn’t getting a strip club. Not yet anyway, because City Council voted down an application to open such a club at 1047 Park St last night. Apparently the vote came in 9-1 with the overwhelming majority of delegates showing up to speak against it. Who knew Regina City Council had it in them to overturn an otherwise air-tight business application after city administration had already recommended they approve it? So, why did they vote it down? A few councilors made points about the “value of human dignity” and “respect for women” but does anyone really buy that? There’s plenty of evidence to prove Regina isn’t especially interested in either of those things. Frankly, the decision feels a little patronizing. But it’s also something of a relief.

Personally, I don’t like where this club was slated to open – nothing against the neighbourhood itself, but the idea of having the only strip club in the city* located in the middle an industrial area that sees few pedestrians is very out of sight, out of mind. Of course, according to the city’s bylaws, it’s the only place where it legally could go – which is just weird. And punitive. And potentially dangerous. Relegating the women who work in this industry to a part of the city where no one can hear them scream should give everyone the creeps.

Regardless of how you feel about strip clubs, have you ever noticed that, in other cities, they’re always in denser areas? Sometimes you find them out near airports (the Landing Strip in Toronto, for example, is out near Pearson International – the entrance is is actually constructed from part of an old airplane fuselage). But most are much more centrally-located. In Montréal, they’re on Sainte-Catherine, and Rue de la Montagne. In Toronto, they’re on Yonge or Dundas. They’re easy to find, easy to hail cabs outside, and the surrounding area is always well lit. As Councillor Shawn Fraser pointed out, Regina needs to acknowledge that it has a sex industry to begin with before something like this can work well here. And, at the moment, no one wants to talk about regulation. We’ve had underaged prostitutes and massage parlours operating in this city for years, offering up a lot of very marginalized young women (and girls), and the most that is seriously discussed is how to keep them out of our neighbourhoods. The city seems to have a bizarrely hands-off approach to these businesses. Instead, they’d rather change the subject and make this about something it isn’t (Respect for women? Please.).

When Mick Jagger called this place the “city that rhymes with fun”, he was kidding. Regina doesn’t want to talk about sex at all. It gets too embarrassed. At this point, it’s clear that Regina cannot handle a strip club. But if it ever does wind up with one, why not put it where we can see it? How about that little stretch on Dewdney with all the bars (where there’s some nightlife and foot traffic already)? But that’s Regina for you: always reluctant to revisit bylaws. Oh, Regina.

 

* Dancers (the now-defunct alcohol-prohibited strip club housed in a Quonset hut near the heavy oil upgrader), was in that neck of the woods too. Carle Steel wrote about it back in 2008 for Prairie Dog’s Equity Report (and you should give it another read, because it’s really good). In it, Carle wrote “If (downtown) got a strip club before we got a grocery store, I think I would have to move.”

Carle moved anyway.

 

Save Your Fork 2014: Return To Strasbourg

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When I cast my mind back over my childhood and teen years, driving through Ontario’s cottage country with my parents, I can recall signs advertising fall suppers in the little towns that dotted the route northeast of Toronto. But these were always on Sunday nights, and we had to get back to the city in time for everyone to get organized for their busy Monday mornings. Who were these people? And who has time for a fall supper? Well, lo these many years later, I do. In fact, I make time for them (and lament every squandered Sunday evening we drove silently past what was, undoubtedly, some very good eatin’).

The first fowl supper I ever enjoyed was about four years ago in the lovely town of Sedley (about forty minutes south of Regina). One taste was all it took to hook me for life. This may sound corny, but whenever I’m in some little town hall or hockey rink, surrounded by people who have come together to share a communal meal, support their community, and raise funds for some local something-or-other, my heart swells. It’s wonderful. I’m also a sucker for a good slice of pie, so that may contribute to the sense of bonhomie. Anyway, let’s get this year’s Fowl Supper season* started!

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I enjoyed my first fowl supper of the 2014 season tonight, in fabulous Strasbourg, SK. Strasbourg’s supper was, as always, a marvel – a seamlessly executed event that draws everyone from the local girl guides to the volunteer fire fighters together to pull off a dinner you’ll want to save the date for again next year. This year’s offering included creamy coleslaw, buns, pickles, turnip, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce and turkey (of course). As is the custom in Strasbourg, the bird was delicious – a mélange of tender, succulent light and dark meat carved and served together for the best of both worlds. For desert, there was a dizzying selection of pies to choose from: cherry, apple, pumpkin, lemon merengue, and pecan. I chose the pecan, and my dining companion the cherry. Neither of us was disappointed. We capped the meal off with a top-shelf cup of coffee and drove home happy.

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This was the third year in a row I enjoyed Strasbourg’s supper, and it sure won’t be my last. Half the fun of taking in these suppers is the drive to the town itself. In Strasbourg’s case, this means driving through the beautiful Lumsden valley and along the edge of Last Mountain lake. Then there’s the friendly conversation that invariable crops up at long banquet tables. It’s a seating arrangement that encourages interaction and one that I’m sorry more restaurants don’t employ. Tonight, for example, I made the acquaintance of Clarence Biller. We struck up a conversation after he remarked on my photo-documentation of a plate of pie (“want a picture of mine too?”) Mr. Biller was the town’s pharmacist for 48 years and now farms just outside of Strasbourg. We talked about water-logged fields, hunting, the recent appearance of elk on his property, and urban sprawl. Who knows who I’ll meet at my next fowl supper!

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Verdict: Strasbourg’s fowl supper is a perennial favourite for a reason; scenic environs, an excellent meal, and stellar company. 5 out of 5 Prairie Dogs.

*Upcoming fowl suppers this month include ones in McLean (Oct 11), Sedley (Oct 19), as well as Lumsden, Milestone, Pense, and Wolsley (all on Oct 26).

 

Not All Men, But Apparently Enough Men

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I don’t know about you, but I’ve been spending far too much time online this week (and it’s not even over yet). In my defense, much of it was for research, but too often I’ve found myself clicking on links to articles that just made me really angry and did little else. Is it me or does there seem to be a lot of news relating to the abuse of women and general misogyny in the ether? I’m really asking because I don’t know if it’s actually everywhere or if Google and Facebook have finally got me pegged. At any rate, the mainstream media has really outdone itself over the past few weeks, making room in their headlines for lots of stories that seem to be tailor made for click bait, but with very real social implications. I know it’s a drag, but I’m going to post a few of them here for your perusal.

Right around the time the Ragged Ass Barber vs. Evie Ruddy story broke, the CBC ran another story about a woman in Montreal who got into an argument with a lifeguard because she contested their order to “cover up” her three year-old daughter at a swimming pool. Apparently, the girl had swimming shorts on but no top and, because anyone who identifies as female – at any age – is understood to be a walking provocation for men who might sexualize them, this was a big problem at the pool that day.

Then there was the story about pictures of famous naked women being disseminated without their consent. Of course, much of the discussion around this seems to have been about cloud computing security and slut shaming rather than how the hackers felt justified in sexually violating these women in the first place.

The story around the backlash to Evie Ruddy’s human rights complaint (which has been absolutely heinous) wasn’t the only one last week. Canadian gaming critic Anita Sarkeesian was actually chased out of her home after threats on her life became very real. Apparently her attackers took umbrage at her charge of sexism in the gaming world.

This morning, CBC’s The Current examined another story that surfaced last week about how college students at North Carolina State University have invented a nail polish that changes colour when it comes in contact with “date rape” drugs (by the way, can we stop calling it that? Rape is rape). They’d apparently like their product to be included in frosh week kits and, if it takes off, probably stand to make a lot of money. I wonder if they’d consider kicking any of the profits into some kind of PSA aimed at men who rape women after they’ve rendered them unconscious. Or would that be bad for business?

This reminds me of a very short conversation I had with a friend many years ago in another city. I was talking to her about how passive aggressive it felt to have received a vodka company-sponsored rape whistle in my swag bag from a local film festival (“Drink up girls! But don’t get too drunk – otherwise, uh-oh!”). I wondered aloud why it was, more than 40 years after the second wave of feminism, I should still find myself walking home at night with my apartment key sticking out between my knuckles, ready at a moment’s notice to take a swing at any potential attacker. At this time, my friend was working on a large floral arrangement (she’s a florist) and from behind a huge spray of dogwood and salal, she deadpanned: “It’s because of men.” Now before you start getting all “not all men” on me, consider this: Why did the lifeguards ask the little girl’s mother at the pool to cover up her child? Who prompted Evie Ruddy to shut down her Facebook and Twitter accounts after hurling vicious language at her? Who are women trying to protect themselves from should they start using that roofie-detecting nail polish?

How else can one put this other than how it’s already been put? The culture really needs to change. 

Ricochet Media: Crowd Funded News Is On Its Way And Not A Moment Too Soon

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Even a cursory glance at Canada’s media landscape should be enough to tell you that we’re in big trouble when it comes to getting uncompromised reportage. Media concentration has been a reality here for years and it’s a serious problem. Meanwhile our national public broadcaster is facing its own problems, being gutted and mismanaged to the point where it’s hard to know what they’re trying to do anymore.

Ricochet Media is a web-based bilingual news outlet that isn’t up and live yet, but is expected to be by the Fall of this year – if they can raise the funds to get started. According to their website, the idea to form Ricochet was partly borne out of extreme frustration around the way national news outlets covered the 2012 student protests in Quebec – and a longstanding general disgust with how the practice of passing off partisan opinion pieces and advertorial content as “news” has become commonplace in Canada.

Ricochet isn’t the first time we’ve seen crowd funded news projects, but those tend to be on a smaller scale or more one-off project-based (by the way, have you considered supporting Prairie Dog? I’m sure we’d all really appreciate it). A Canadian national crowd funded outlet like this would be a first. And a very exciting development. You can visit Ricochet’s website (and watch their shockingly earnest promo video) here.

Things Are Looking Up For The Indian Head Opera House

301504_10200960827601906_763206368_nIt’s been a long haul, but following many months of fundraising events featuring Belle Plaine, Andy Shauf, Rah Rah, and others, it looks like the community of Indian Head is going to save its 110 year-old theatre. Indian Head Theatre and Community Arts Inc. announced today that they’ve successfully purchased the Indian Head Opera House (currently the Nite Hawk Theatre) in Indian Head.

If all goes according to plan, the non-profit group will take possession of the theatre on February 15 – so Regina fans of performing art and cinema can look forward to many trips to “the Head”, as it’s affectionately known, for years to come.

If you’re up early tomorrow, tune into CBC’s Morning Edition to hear Indian Head Theatre and Community Arts Inc’s Tara Leigh Heslip chat with host Sheila Coles about how things are developing.

UPDATE: 2141 Rae St. Evictions on Hold?

Viva evictions - photo by Darrol Hofmeister

As we reported last issue, residents of the Viva Apartments (2141 Rae St) were issued a Notice to Vacate by their landlords last month and were informed that they’d have to leave their homes by the end of January. Late last week, these tenants learned that their property manager, Night Hawk Properties, had met with the Office of Residential Tenancies and were informed that the paperwork attached to their Notice to Vacate was incomplete; Night Hawk has yet to obtain the necessary permits to conduct the renovations that they say necessitate the eviction of their tenants.

So, that Notice to Vacate is invalid. For now.

“The landlord is required to have all permits to carry out the renovations before they serve the notice to vacate,” says Dale Beck, director of the Office of Residential Tenancies. “It makes no sense that they would evict people and then discover that they can’t get permits. They didn’t have those when I reviewed (the application). So, I assume they’re off busy trying to get permits now. If and when they get those permits, they’ll be free to serve notices to vacate once again.”  In Saskatchewan, the minimum notice is 30 days, so Beck says if they issue another Notice to Vacate by the end of December, the January 31 eviction date will still stand.

What is especially worrying to the tenants is that they got this information not through their landlord of the Office of Residential Tenancies but, rather, second hand through Peter Gilmer of the Regina Anti-Poverty Ministry who has been working with the Viva Apartments’ tenants, and got in touch with the Office of Residential Tenancies last week.

“It was confusing for me to find out, second hand, that the the Rentalsman met with the landlord without us knowing that it was even happening,” says tenant Angela McLean. “But to learn that they don’t have any of the permits to do renovations makes us really wonder what the purpose of this eviction is if they don’t even know what the renovations are going to be – and haven’t applied for those permits.”

According the City of Regina, Zarkor Construction (Night Hawk’s parent company) is the contracting company that will be carrying out the renovations, and are in the process of putting together an application for the correct permits – though as of Friday, no application had been submitted. For confidentiality reasons, the city says they cannot disclose what type of permit Zarkor is applying for, or what the nature of the renovations will be, and that information cannot be disclosed until the the application is received and approved.

Those are a lot of unknown variables, but McLean says the lack of communication between the building’s owners and tenants has been par for the course.

“There has been no communication to us from the property management company. It’s hard enough that they’re evicting us in the middle of winter, but when they don’t even give any basic explanations to questions like ‘Why?’ ‘What renovations are you doing?’ ‘Why does it have to happen now?’ – and to be completely ignored by the person that you’re paying $900 a month to – that’s more frustrating than anything else.”

When contacted for comment, Night Hawk didn’t return Prairie Dog‘s call either.

In a phone conversation with one of the owners of Vineyard Property Corp, Prairie Dog was told that the owners are applying to the Saskatchewan Housing Corporation for a repair grant to help with the renovations they intend to undertake. For confidentiality reasons, the SHC could not confirm whether they had received an application from either Night Hawk or Vineyard Property Corp. , but said that if such a repair grant is approved, the owner would then be legally obligated to maintain and operate their building as designated affordable rental housing for a minimum of five years.

But none of this information has been relayed to any of the current tenants by either Vineyard or Night Hawk. So, for now, they’re left not knowing what to think.

“We have no idea how to plan for the future,” McLean says. “It’s really difficult gambling on whether or not we’re going to have a place to live at the end of January. It’s hard to even look for a place right now. When you don’t know what’s happening, it’s impossible to plan.”

“If they would just explain to us what’s happening and why, that would at least alleviate the immediate concern and help us understand.”

Tonight at the RPL Theatre: Whisk Yourself Away To Winnipeg With Special Ed

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If you’re starting to feel a little football-intolerant (and I’m not saying you should), you might want to take a break before the big party really begins, and check out Special Ed at the RPL Theatre (conveniently located across the park from the party tent on City Square).

Special Ed looks at the life’s work of filmmaker Ed Ackerman, the Don Quixote of Winnipeg’s North End. From my web-only story:

The film trains a watchful but detached eye on Ackerman’s dilemma; he has returned to Winnipeg to, as he says, finish what he started; an ambitious film project with the National Film Board, and to build an animation studio out of a run-down house that would otherwise be demolished. The trouble is, Ackerman is categorically incapable of finishing anything. A champion procrastinator, he routinely starts projects on monumental scales, only to find himself adrift in the middle of them months and years later, unable to appreciate why everyone around him is so frustrated.

Special Ed screens at the RPL Theatre tonight at 7:00 and tomorrow at 9:00.

Tonight: The Last (Celluloid) Picture Show at the RPL Theatre

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The Regina Public Library Theatre will bid a teary goodbye to film this evening. They’re getting a new digital projection system, so it’s the last time they’ll run the old 35mm projectors. To celebrate – and give a proper send-off to the format on which cinema was born – programmer Belinda New has brought in a 35mm print of the 1962 French New Wave classic Jules and Jim by François Truffault.

This is a watershed moment in the history of cinema; we’re losing a 118 year-old medium and replacing it with a format that seems to change every five years. The good news is that the RPL will be getting a new digital projection system soon, which will make it easier for them to program new independent releases, and not have to run films off DVD or Blu-ray (which, for the most part, is how they’ve been tiding themselves over the past year or so). Regina is lucky to have the RPL Theatre, and this investment will ensure years of great movie watching to come. It’ll be an emotional evening, but if you’re a fan of cinema, it’s one you won’t want to miss.

 

Save Your Fork 2: Sedley

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Prairie Dog writers Lois-Anna Kaminski and Amber Goodwyn were welcomed into the bosom of Sedley’s Gym Hall.

It’s fowl supper season! I’m a bit slow off the hop on this, as the season has been upon us for some time already – but I’m here to tell you that it’s not too late to get in on some fowl supper goodness. Last night, for example, I had the pleasure of enjoying Sedley’s supper, and it was a good one; featuring mashed potatoes, carrots, turnip (a must!), stuffing, coleslaw, turkey, gravy and cranberry sauce. Sedley gets bonus points for having cabbage rolls, which is not something on offer at all fowl/fall suppers. There was also an array of pies to choose from including apple, pumpkin, Saskatoon berry, and rhubarb. I’m pretty sure I also spied raisin, but it was just a little too far out of reach, so I got what I thought was Saskatoon berry but turned out to be cherry. Don’t mind if I do!

If you’ve never been to one of these suppers, you really owe it yourself to take one in. It combines two of my favourite things: community engagement and good eatin’, and proceeds go towards the communities in question.

I was at Strasbourg’s two weeks ago, which I wrote about in glowing terms the first time I tasted the pleasures their supper had to offer, last year. Once again, they did not disappoint. Many fowl supper aficionados will tell you that Strasbourg puts on a supper to beat the band.

Feeling left out? Well don’t! There are many more suppers to enjoy in the coming weeks, all within reasonable driving distance from Regina, including Milestone (October 27), Wolsley (also October 27), and Craven (November 3) where the fine folks there are putting on a pit beef supper. I’m intrigued!

So get out there! And don’t forget to wear your stretchy pants!

Tonight: Inside The Edit Suite With Jackie Dzuba

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Do you love movies? Do you like watching TV? Did you know that, in the time between shooting your favourite television show and it winding up on screen, every shot you see has gone through a careful selection process? When it’s done well, a lot of thought goes into the arrangement of shots that go on to form the body of a scene, the arc of a story, and finally the entirety of what you’re watching. Ask any director worth their salt, and they’ll tell you that the story comes together in the edit suite. Martin Scorsese, Steven Soderbergh, and Quentin Tarantino have all sworn allegiances to their editors; their partners in storytelling. But, while the editor has a lot of influence over what we watch, we seldom get the chance to hear from them.

Tonight at Artesian on 13th, the University of Regina Department of Film presents a rare opportunity to enter the mind of Gemini award winning editor, Jackie Dzuba. Inside The Edit Suite will feature a live conversation with Jackie Dzuba and UofR Department of Film head Mark Wihak.

Dzuba has lent her craft to award winning feature films, documentaries, and television. Her work has been featured in The Englishman’s Boy, Prairie Giant, and Corner Gas. Tonight’s presentation is part of the UofR’s celebration of these contributions to Dzuba’s craft and industry, as she receives the Department of Film’s 2013 Distinguished Alumni Award.

Tonight, 8pm at Artesian: 2627 13th Ave, Free Admission

Sisters In Spirit Vigil

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The Native Women’s Association of Canada is holding Sisters In Spirit vigils to honour missing, abused, and murdered women across the country today. According to the NWAC website, there are more than 582 missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls in Canada. As you may recall, last month, Canada rejected the UN’s call for a review of violence against Aboriginal women.

Regina’s Sisters In Spirit vigil will be held at the First Nations University this evening from 6 to 8pm.

(photo of 2012 SIS vigil via CTV Regina)

The Door Prize That Keeps On Giving

pee-wees-big-adventure-1985-paul-reubens-pic-1Like most North American cities (as was discussed on this blog a couple of days ago), Regina has cycling infrastructure that ranges from terrible to non-existent. If you’re a casual cyclist, it’s merely annoying. But if you are someone who rides a bike on your daily commute to work, for transportation to social events, and to run errands, it’s a serious problem.

There are many in this city who clearly hold the opinion that bikes have no place in regular vehicular traffic. At least that’s the impression they give by the way they hang out their car windows and holler at those of us white knuckling it along side the half ton pickup trucks. Well guess what? We feel the exact same way. Most cyclists would much rather have their own set of infrastructure, completely separate from traffic. As it stands, we’re far more observant of car lanes than drivers are of ours. To illustrate this point, New York City cyclist Casey Neistat made this video of the sort of obstacles blindly placed in bike lanes that cyclists are just expected to negotiate their way around. While Regina isn’t exactly New York, we at least have this in common.

SaskFilm RIP

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SaskFilm, the province’s heretofore, once very busy film commission is no more. As of 3pm today, SaskFilm shut down its operations for good.

It was created under the Progressive Conservative government of Grant Devine in 1989 and, among other things, SaskFilm helped to facilitate hundreds of productions such as Little Mosque On The Prairie and Corner Gas. It also courted a host of bigger budget Hollywood productions to shoot in our fair province, bringing outside investment, and employing a small army of film professionals in the process.

Perhaps most importantly, along with the also now deceased Saskatchewan Communications Network (SCN), SaskFilm helped to export Saskatchewan’s stories to the rest of the country and the world. Local independent productions such as Wapos Bay, Landscape As Muse, and The Neighbour’s Dog would not have been possible without SaskFilm. For those who used to work in the industry – both as worker bees and independent producers – it’s been a long time waiting for the other shoe to drop. For whatever it’s worth, the Saskatchewan Ministry of Parks Culture and Sport is, ostensibly, partly replacing the role SaskFilm played with the still mysterious Creative Industries program. Although, despite its launch in the Spring of this year, there has still been no indication of what kind of funding or incentives independent producers specifically in this province can expect.

As someone who used to work in the Saskatchewan film industry, what else is there to say other than thank you to SaskFilm for helping to build the Saskatchewan film industry over 24 years of service.

For further information on what SaskFilm did, you can visit their facebook page and download a document that lists the hundreds of productions that were shot with SaskFilm’s assistance.

Post Card From City Hall: Water, Water, Everywhere

I sat in on last night’s city council meeting, and before we go any further, I’d like to acknowledge that I was just a tourist. Typically, Paul Dechene reports from City Hall, and does a bang-up job of it too. But he wasn’t able to attend last night, and I was interested in one particular point on the agenda (which I’ll get to in a moment), so there I was, craning my neck and bothering the nice man sitting behind me for help in identifying city councilors. There were some very interesting moments – some of which I’ll outline here for your light perusal.

Early in the evening, a representative from the Royal Regina Golf Club presented his argument for a two year tax abatement because of the flood damage they’ve weathered over the past year. Councilor Bryce indicated that she thought exempting the golf course would set a dangerous precedent. In the end, however, council recommended a one-year exemption. Feel free to discuss this in our comments section.

Regina Water Watch’s Jim Holmes also presented last night, calling for an independent provincial oversight of the upcoming Waste Water Treatment Plant referendum. The Leader-Post has a good article about this here. Following the meeting, Mayor Fougere indicated that he didn’t think this type of oversight is necessary.

“I stand by us having a very clear and transparent and open process, so the minister can respond any way he’d like to, but we are not going to ask him to do that,” Fougere said.

And finally, residents neighbouring a future townhouse development on Edward St might be up to their eyebrows in sewage water every time it rains, but council voted to allow the development to go ahead, even though a public works report on what impact this development will have on the existing sewer system isn’t expected until February. Prairie Dog will be following this story in a future print edition.

Four In The Afternoon: Featuring Causes For Concern

4 in the Afternoon1  OH, COME ON  Looks like Stephen Harper is proroguing parliament… again.

2  WAITING AND WORRYING  There’s still no word on when Canadian doctor Tarek Loubani and filmmaker John Greyson might be released by Egyptian police. The two were arrested yesterday in Cairo.

3  VOLCANO BLAST  A volcano in southern Japan has erupted, completely covering the nearby city of Kagoshima in ash.

4  AS LONG AS IT’S NOT CONTRACTING  Studies suggest that the universe may not be expanding. How about that?

The Littlest Flood Victim

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As you’ve been reading, hearing, and seeing here, here, and here, Toronto is under water! It’s pretty sobering. This is the second time in roughly as many months that the lower half of the Don Valley Parkway has flooded, which, if you’re at all familiar with Toronto’s roadways, you’ll know that this is a serious problem for getting people in and out of the city. They’re definitely going to have to come up with some way of dealing with this in the future, because something tells me this is only the beginning of weird weather semi-regularly paralyzing the city. At one point, as many as 300,000 households were left without power. And it’s still a mess this morning. Anyway, you’re probably reading this in Regina, and probably aren’t that invested in Toronto, and maybe you’re even feeling a little smug (as a Torontonian transplant to the Queen City, I’ve heard more than my share of Toronto-bashing) so what can we show you that’ll have some other kind of appeal? Hows-about a little snake on a train? This poor little fella must have been very confused after trying to traverse the Don River, only to find himself on a stalled Go-Train en route to Richmond Hill. Prairie Dog might not be so quick with the breaking news, but if there’s a video of a snake trapped on a flooded train, you can bet your rubber boots we’ll bring said video to you.

Six In The Morning: Of Super Moons, Pests, and Bulls

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1  DID YOU SEE THE SUPERMOON THIS WEEKEND?  No? Missed it? Well, don’t feel too badly, it’ll be back next August. To tide you over, here’s a collection of photos taken of the perigee-syzygy of the Earth-Moon-Sun system from around the world.

2  ANOTHER OIL STORY  This one, though, is about oil produced by… algae.

3  LOCUSTS!  Yeah, they’ve been eclipsed by “bigger” stories lately, but over the past few weeks, locusts have been quietly wreaking havoc in Egypt and Yemen. And now, Russia and Kazakhstan are joining forces to battle the voracious pests. Says farmer Gennady Malichenko “Grain and wheat that we have sown with so many difficulties, as they say by the sweat of our brow, may die.”

4  I DIDN’T KNOW ANYONE ACTUALLY USED LINKED IN  …but apparently it’s popular with stalkers.

5  FRUIT TATTOOS  The European Union has passed legislation to allow fruit to be lasered with code (as opposed to stickered). I just wish they had stuck to their guns about keeping olive oil it its original bottles.

6  BULLFIGHTING NO MAS?  The future of the centuries-old spectacle of Spanish bullfighting is uncertain. Why? The economy, animal rights activists, and kinder, gentler bulls.