Scheming Calgary Developers And Regina

Everyone needs to see last night’s news report by Global Calgary about that city’s developers plotting to buy influence with (actually, total control of) City Hall. Really, the only thing surprising about this is that it was caught on tape, because meetings like this, where wealthy and well-organized individuals discuss controlling democratic institutions, surely occur all the time.

The question for Reginans: is this happening here? Well, I can’t think of a significant instance since Dechene started covering City Hall where our council voted against the interests of property owners and developers. In fact, our city council’s collective position seems to be that property owner and developer interests ARE Regina’s interests. This is of course nonsense. Sometimes they are and sometimes they certainly are not.

I do know that a lot of really good people are no longer with our City’s civil service–people like Bob Bjerke, suspiciously fired in 2011, who enforced city policies rather than signing off on whatever developers wanted, when they wanted it, whether it benefited the city or not.

Maybe it’s time for Regina’s amateur secret agents to shoot some video of our business community’s closed-door meetings.

Hyperlocal: Put Your Story On The Map

Hyperlocal screencapSeems I’ve scored a month-long gig blogging for the CBC’s new online project, Hyperlocal. You should check it out. Actually, you can even contribute.

Hyperlocal is a space on the web to share stories about neighbourhoods and what’s changing in them. There’s a map interface with little flags showing where people have written stories. Today I posted a piece about the Safeway construction (which I’ve been watching all winter with my son… he’s sort of obsessed with large trucks). And I’ll have other stories going up every Monday for the rest of April.

You can also post stories about your neighbourhood by going to the website, cbc.ca/Hyperlocal, and logging in. The idea is you tell stories about the things that are important in the area around where you live. And I’m pretty sure there’s more going on in Regina than my Cathedral-centric scribblings let on.

You can also comment on articles that are posted on the Hyperlocal site. So, for instance, if you think I’ve skipped a lot of important details in the Safeway story (kind of hard not to, had a strict word count I was writing to), then cut loose.

Hyperlocal just launched this morning so there aren’t so many stories in there apart from those by the official bloggers and featured writers (people like Miriam Toews and Will Ferguson). It’d be cool if Regina could turn up and take the place over.

Hope to see you there.

Under the Big Top

On Sept. 30, 2012, BC Place was reopened after a $514 millionor $563 million – retrofit. What the hell. It’s only money. And everybody thought it was great. Unless you’re a University of Maryland economist whose comments are left at the end of the aforementioned CBC story.

 But a university professor who has studied stadium construction around the United States says it’s unlikely that would be new money for the local economy, but rather consumers shifting their entertainment spending from something else in the region.

Dennis Coates, who is a professor of economics at the University of Maryland, says new stadiums can boost quality of life in a city, but not the economy, and they are rarely a good investment.

“Very few objective observers are going to say yes, this stadium — and you can point to whichever one you’d like — was just a wonderful idea because the city is now revitalized, income growth has shot through the roof. Objective observers never find such results.”

But … but … think of the fans! Uhhh, what’s this? The renos were originally budgeted for $100 million?

But look at the CBC Vancouver story from September 2011. They’ll make some of that money back by selling the stadium’s naming rights, right? Maybe. When someone gets around to buying the naming rights … one of these days.

Meanwhile, in Regina, no one explains why a 33,000-seat stadium must cost $280 million when a 33,000-seat football stadium in Winnipeg cost $200 million to construct. And no one will explain what happens when the costs go through the roof – just as they did in Winnipeg when the University of Manitoba Institute For Mosquito-Breeding Studies was supposed to be built for $120 million.

Here’s the last known sighting of Paul Dechene covering the stadium issue at City Hall …

Happy World Town Planning Day!

It’s true. November 8 is World Town Planning Day. It’s a real thing. I heard about it from a city planner. And apparently it’s been around since 1949. There’s even a Wikipedia entry for it.

The Canadian Institute of Planners describes it this way.

The 20th century transformed Canada from a rural to an urban industrial society. The impact of this change on our community spaces provided great challenges for Canadian planners. Planners integrate the goals of sustainable development, good governance and economic viability to ameliorate the human environment. Their contributions to Canadian society have helped make our country a highly enjoyable place in which to live.

World Town Planning Day focuses on the progress of community planning in Canada. It highlights the valuable contributions that sound planning has made to the quality of the human environment and provides recognition of the ideals of community planning among the profession and the general public worldwide.

The same planner who alerted me to World Town Planning Day also included a link to this instructional video that will be useful for anyone thinking about becoming a city planner.

 

National Infrastructure Summit Day 2

I just made it in to the second day of the National Infrastructure Summit at the Delta. This is a pic from what is apparently the innovation panel and they’re talking about maintaining cement and asphalt. But I was late getting in and as a result I’m kind of lost.Of course, I’m blogging instead of paying attention so…

Anyway, coming up later today, the P3 panel at 11am with Mira Shenker of ReNew Magazine, John McBride of PPP Canada and Paul Moist, the national president of CUPE. And, as John Cameron tweeted yesterday, Mr Moist has some opinions on that topic.

Should be a good discussion.

Check back here for more updates or follow the summit on Twitter with #2012NIS

Six In The Morning: Monday Edition

1 COLORADO REELS The suspect in Colorado’s movie shootings heads to court today. Shooting suspect James Holmes shot 70 people at a midnight screening of The Dark Night Rises, 12 have died and 11 remain in critical condition. The suspect carried a shotgun, an assault rifle, and a glock. He was dressed in tactical gear and was reported telling the police he was “the Joker”. Holmes was a PhD student in a prestigious neurological program and many see this as an indication of American shortcomings in dealing with the mentally ill.

2 BANDAID On Friday 75 Saskatchewan arts, culture, youth and official-language programs received part of a $4,573,132 federal grant in response to funding applications. The Mackenzie Art gallery was a big beneficiary, receiving $256.000 for upcoming exhibits.

3 ONLY CUTE BECAUSE I WASN’T THERE A one year-old female bear cub was tranquilized and removed from a Pennsylvania mall on Saturday night. No one was hurt, but authorities acknowledged it was unusual to find bears in that area.

4 SYRIAN UNCERTAINTY The fighting continues in Syria, though the clash has been contained by government forces in central Damascus. Russia is holding firm in support of Assad’s regime, and the EU has agreed to impose sanctions. Assad has declined the promise of safe passage by the Arab League countries if he steps down. An interesting power politics take on the situation in the Globe by former Canadian ambassador Michael Bell is a worthwhile read.

5 IRAQ FLARE-UP At least 97 are dead this morning after insurgents launched attacks across the country. It is believed Iraqi Al Qaeda leader Abu Bakir Al Baghdadi warned of these attacks yesterday, calling it part of the new Breaking Down Walls offensive. It has been difficult to conclusively identify his voice, Baghdadi’s broadcast is quoted in Al Jazeera suggesting: “”The first priority in this is releasing Muslim prisoners everywhere, and chasing and eliminating judges and investigators and their guards.”

6 YEAH, ENOUGH OF THAT Sometimes, when I get down, I go to this mostly ridiculous and surprisingly effective site:  http://www.happynews.com/. Don’t judge. This weekend was a rough one (see above). You might be in need as well. First Nations’ communities in Connecticut celebrate a rare white bison! Belgian scientists find a way to detect superparasites! See??

Ultrasonic Alarm Call: Blaze Of Glory

This week on prairie dog‘s “official” (in the most generous sense of the term) podcast, we take a long hard look at DC Comics’ “Before Watchmen” series of “comics”.

Then, special guest, Martin Gourlie of Regina Urban Ecology joins us in our ultra-ritz podcasting chalet to discuss this year’s Jane’s Walk.

Then Aidan recounts his adventures at the German Club’s Spargelfest and gives us a rundown of dinner at Simmer Hotpot Restaurant.

We also take a look at Joss Whedon’s Cabin In The Woods, and Aidan and I wind up totally spoiling it for Martin and Shane. Ha ha. We’re such jerks.

Ultrasonic Alarm Call — Blaze Of Glory: At the table, Aidan Morgan (host), Shane Hnetka, Paul Dechene and guest, Martin Gourlie. Music by the Lazy MKs. Runtime 45 min.

To download the episode, click the radio or the link above. And be sure to check out our archive of past episodes.

Four In The Afternoon: Diplomacy, Drinking Water and Disease

4 in the Afternoon1 HARPER DOES CHINA Today Stephen Harper kicked off his diplomatic mission to China to try and remedy the rocky relationship between the two countries. Given the large proportion of oil executives in his entourage, many see the trip as more of an effort to establish energy markets than a friendly visit.

2 BAD WATER The City of Prince Albert is under boil water orders after harmful pathogens were found in the city’s water supply. This development leaves 40, 000 residents without access to drinkable water, adding to the already mounting concerns about the city’s infrastructure.

3 BUNDLE UP! A recent announcement by Regina Qu’apelle Health Region indicates that the number chlamydia cases in Regina is on the rise. The authorities are hoping social media will help spread – no pun intended – information about the disease and its prevention.

4 HORROR IN HOMS The siege of the Syrian city of Homs carries into its fifth day today as death tolls rise in the anti-Assad protests. Many speculate the Chinese and Russian veto of UN action to intervene may be rooted in a power struggle for control over the oil rich region.

BONUS 1: BECAUSE ITS AWESOME The California Ban on gay marriage was ruled unconstitutional by a San Francisco Court of Appeals yesterday.

BONUS 2: BECAUSE ITS ALSO AWESOME The 2011 Census points to the strength of the West as the region experiences record growth. Saskatchewan is seen to have made a record turnaround, with the provincial population again tipping the one million mark.

Saskatchewan Sewer, Water & Electricity Woes

Here’s a link to a CBC TV news report on problems that homeowners in one Saskatoon neighbourhood are facing because of the aging sewer system. Near the end of the clip, a city official talks about the hope of a funding increase at some point to fix what amounts to a city-wide problem.

Where the funding will come from, I’m not exactly sure. With vast swaths of cities across North America that were built in the post-WWII boom period having reached (or exceeded) their best before date as far as infrastructure goes, hundreds of billions of dollars are going to be required to repair, replace and upgrade roads, sewer and water lines, power grids and whatnot.  Yet we refuse to acknowledge that we need to get serious about stopping urban sprawl and dramatically increasing the population density of our existing communities to help bring the per-unit cost of providing and maintaining infrastructure down to a manageable level.

On a related note, here’s a link to a CBC report on what’s being described as a water emergency in Prince Albert where a boil water advisory has been upgraded to a boil water order after a valve at the P.A. water treatment plant failed which caused contamination of the domestic water supply. The order is expected to be in effect for at least two weeks.

And here’s a link to a Leader-Post report on four dogs that received electrical shocks while being walked past a light standard on the 22-block Elphinstone by their owners in the last few days. In the article, a SaskPower official speculates that the power connection may have “been damaged”, “corroded” or “rotted off” causing the leakage of electricity.

Ultrasonic Alarm Call Bonus Track: Chamber of Commerce At Ideas Fair

We ended off the latest episode of the Ultrasonic Alarm Call, Terror For Blood Town, with a montage of interviews recorded at the city’s Ideas Fair on October 25.

Well, here’s one I didn’t include. It’s with John Hopkins, CEO of the Regina Chamber of Commerce.

At the risk of damaging my leftie bona fides, I found myself nodding along to a lot of what he had to say. He talked about the need for affordable housing, a comprehensive infrastructure strategy and a vital cultural scene — all stuff I’m in total agreement with.

(Of course, he also makes mention of the “importance of transportation infrastructure which includes [public] transit.” I shudder to think what else it includes. I suspect he’d be savvy enough not to suggest more parking around me.)

Hopkins of Chamber of Commerce at Ideas Fair by Paul Dechene

I left the interview out, by the way, because I mention in it that I’m talking to John Hopkins but didn’t mention who he was there to represent so it probably wouldn’t have made any sense sitting out of context like that in the middle of an audio montage.

The other interviews are also worth listening to, by the way. And you can hear them all (six in total) at about the 3/4 mark of lucky Episode 13 of Ultrasonic Alarm Call, which is jam packed full of other awesome stuff. So you should listen to the whole thing. By clicking here. And don’t forget to check out our archive of past episodes.

Ultrasonic Alarm Call Episode 13: Terror For Blood Town

Be afraid! Because this is a Very Special Halloween episode of Ultrasonic Alarm Call, prairie dog‘s most sanity shattering podcast.

We begin our chilling audio adventure with an examination of the recently exhumed and reanimated lecture series, Chicken & Wine, and learn a terrible truth about nasal irrigation.

From there, we brave the existential horror that is the City of Regina’s Ideas Fair. Oh, the many mind-blistering mysteries we unearth about our city’s future!

And as if that’s not enough, Shane finishes off his 31 Days Of Monstrous Horror…. with an axe! Then we ask, what film was so terrifying, so gut-manglingly demented that even our Maestro of the Macabre Movie wouldn’t dare include it in his series of sinister cinema? Listen in to find out.

We end things off with a cavalcade of very pleasant interviews with several of the agreeable folk who partook of the Ideas Fair festivities. It’s so amiable and uplifting, it’s almost nausea inducing.

Ultrasonic Alarm Call 13 – Terror For Blood Town: At the table, Carle Steel, Shane Hnetka and me as your guest host. Music by the Lazy MKs. Runtime: 40 min bone-chilling dread, 7 min 30 sec mild jitters.

To download, click on the wickedly awesome Frankenstein’s monster radio above. And don’t forget to check out our archive of episodes.

Ultrasonic Alarm Call 12: The End…

… but not of the Ultrasonic Alarm Call. We trudge onwards.

No, in this episode, we shoehorn several topics into the theme of endings.

We’re having a look at the end of condominium conversions (for now), the end (maybe) of the walking strategy downtown (or maybe that’s a product of my paranoid imagination), the end of analog film in Regina’s theatres (and the beginning of UltraAVX awesomeness), the Last Mountain Distillery in Lumsden, the latest True Knit Art Show (meaning, Cassie and Cookie are back in our ultraswank recording studio and have pretty much taken over things), and, finally, the sad passing of Steve Jobs.

Ultrasonic Alarm Call 12 — The End: At the table, Aidan Morgan (host), Shane Hnetka, Cookie Madill, Elan Morgan, Cassie Ozog and me. Music by the Lazy MKs. Runtime: 40 min inane chatter, 2 min 18 sec of Cookie laughing.

To download, click on the radio above. And don’t forget to check out our archive of previous episodes.

Pick of the Day: Speaker Series

As part of the process to draft a new Official Community Plan, the City of Regina is hosting three public lectures to inspire people to think about what we need to do to make Regina a successful 21st century city.

Tonight, architect Ken Greenberg will discuss the relationship between density and sustainability. Next Wednesday (Sept. 28) urban planner Jennifer Keesmaat (pictured) will explain how mid-sized cities are perfectly positioned for success. Finally, on Oct. 4, city planner Larry Beasley will discuss the importance of vibrant neighbourhoods.

All three lectures will be at the University of Regina Education Auditorium from 7-9 p.m. For more info, visit www.designregina.ca 

If you visit the website, you’ll see info on another event you should mark down on your calendar. It’s an Ideas Fair & Public Forum that is going to be held Oct. 25-27 at Conexus Arts Centre to further refine ideas about Regina’s future that are going to considered as part of the OCP process. If you like urban planning, as we at prairie dog do, it’s shaping up to be an interesting fall.

It’s Generational!

The latest buzz-phrase bouncing around the Queen City is “generational opportunity”. Perhaps you’ve heard it referring to the Regina Revitalization Project focused on developing the CP rail yards as well as housing and commercial development in North Central (City of Regina). Now it’s also the guiding principle behind plans for the central RPL branch redevelopment (Leader Post).

On Monday, the “Cultural Centre Redevelopment Project” is going before City Council seeking support. From the report: “The Cultural Centre project presents a generational opportunity for the advancement of a first-rate downtown cultural facility that appeals to the creative class and citizens at large.”

To me the phrase “generational opportunity” already feels cliché and overused. It’s now in the same boat as “sustainability” though at least that one had a good 5-10 year run while this has only recently been used twice.  Both are broad, catchall, non-statements that pretend to say something. Continue reading “It’s Generational!”

Volcano Vs. Climate Change; So You Think You Have Construction Problems; Me Hates Me Some ‘Burbs; Profanity Warning

So Steve emails me some spam he got about how the Iceland volcano is reversing global warming caused by humans and says, “Hey, wanna do a fast debunk of this on the blog?” To which I reply,

Who has fucking time to debunk shit?? Do you have any idea how much time I spent stuck in traffic today? Half of it! The day I mean. In traffic, chugging slowly through construction zones. Cars suck assholes. Next time we come here we do everything by public transit. If it isn’t on a bus route or the LRT line we don’t fucking see it. I don’t care how closely related by blood the person is. And don’t say how I should write this rant up as a blog post. I have to choke down some pasta then get back into the car and drive to my sister’s house. When I finally get back to my dad’s basement I’m turning on the television and watching reality shows until I’m unconscious.

See, I’m back in Stabmonton. And today we stupidly tried to travel from my folks’ place in the nearby suburb of St Albert to the south side of Edmo using the spiff new Anthony Henday Drive. Problem being the construction zone on the Henday ran from just outside St Albert all the way to the north shore of the North Saskatchewan River. All told, that’s a whopping 17 km of construction zone, with all the attendant reduced speed warnings and bottlenecks.

And as Google Maps informs me, that’s five km longer than the entire length of Albert Street (in Regina, of course). And, on the way back to my folks’, we discovered that there is also massive construction on Calgary Trail North and the Whitemud. In other words, pretty much every route through or around Edmonton is clotted by huge construction projects. So when I get home I don’t want to hear any whinging about how the summer construction season is snarling up Regina’s traffic.

17 km! One construction zone! That’s Traffic Perdition I just escaped. A one-block detour around the City Square project is looking pretty fucking insignificant by comparison.

As for that spam email from Whitworth, it was some balderdash about how material spewed from the volcano in Iceland wipes out four years worth of human-spewed CO2, or some such bullshit. The Guardian helpfully put paid to that idea over a year ago, pointing out that the biggest impact on the climate from that eruption comes as a result of all the European aircraft that were grounded (air travel being notoriously bad for the environment, so much so that one cross-country roundtrip by plane produces as much carbon as your average year’s worth of car-driving).

That Steve’s spammer invokes Ian Plimer in the headline should have been indication enough that the email was to be ignored. I’m not entirely sure why it got his knickers in a twist. (He said it was sent by a “journalist.” And now I’m curious who exactly.) But just so there’s no confusion: Plimer (who made our Dastardly Denier list) is not a trusted name in the world of climate science. Here are, for instance, a list of rebuttals to his anti-climate-science tome, Heaven + Earth. Or you can watch as George Monbiot takes him to task on Australian TV.

Good Urban Planning and Design – Why It Matters

This week the City launched the planning process that will result in the Official Community Plan – a document that will outline the city’s priorities for growth and development over the next 25 years. As Greg mentioned in his post earlier this week there are opportunities for people to come out and discuss the future of our city – What are the priorities? What do citizens want their neighbourhoods and city to look like? What changes do we need to make in the way we plan and build to make Regina a vibrant, healthy, and rewarding city to live in?

I hope that a lot of the conversation focuses on ways to minimize sprawl, increase overall density, and improve neighbourhood and city-wide connectivity (walkability, bikability, transit, etc.). And really, it should focus on these issues. Regina, like many North American cities, has continued to build outwards for many years and the costs of this inefficient style of development (in particular the infrastructure deficit) are starting to catch up with us. It’s time to re-think our city.

In addition to the monetary costs of low-density, car-centric development, there are also very personal costs – things that can impact our health and stress our daily lives. Here are a collection of recent articles and studies to keep in mind as we plan for the Regina we want to see:

1) Bad neighbourhood design can impact your health: Along with lack of access to healthy food, those who live in outlying neighbourhoods with low walkability have poorer physical health (from less exercise) and poorer mental health (from isolation).

“We used to call them ugly, but now social geographers and medical practitioners label the disconnected sections of the city “obesogenic,” meaning environments that promote obesity.” (via Globe and Mail)

2) Long commutes can stress your marriage: A recent Swedish study found a 40% increased risk for divorce amoung people with long commute times. The reasons include increased stress and anxiety, potential gender inequalities in the home, and reduced time spent with loved ones.

“[Commuting is]annoying, especially if you have to do it by car, and a long trip home every night can put someone in a bad mood. It also takes time that could otherwise be spent with a partner or kids, and may put partners on drastically different schedules, which is hard on any union.” (via Jezebel and Grist)

3) Car commutes might be crushing your soul: I’ll let Grist spell out this interesting finding from a recent ‘Urban Mobility Report’

“The UMR also included a “commuter stress index” [PDF]. We wouldn’t put too much stock in this number as a psychological measure — it’s actually just another way of quantifying how bad rush hour really is. But it’s definitely true that being stuck every day in a sluggish line of can’t-drive assclowns wears on you. Using “stress index” as shorthand for “sheer brain-horror of rush hour driving index” just makes sense.”

For contrast– a recent report from the NYC Department of Health showed that people can get a lot of their physical activity just by going about their day using active transportation (walking, biking, even transit):

“The majority of New Yorkers who take transit to work, for example, get eleven minutes of physical activity each day from recreation. But they move for 57 minutes a day just to get around, whether it’s to walk to the bus or run some errands during lunch. New Yorkers who walk or bike to work get slightly more exercise than transit riders as part of their daily routine, while drivers get less than half as much. The city’s compact development and strong transit system are the key to incorporating activities that lower New Yorkers’ risk of diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease.” (via StreetsBlog)

Creating an Official Community Plan that promotes a well-connected, well-designed city should be a priority moving forward for all Reginans regardless of whether you want to live in the heart of downtown or a quick bus trip away.

Wednesday Night Winnipeg Report

JETS REPORT An Atlanta Thrashers movie to Winnipeg seems even more likely after it was revealed late last night that the province of Manitoba has been talking to True North, the group that wants to bring an NHL team to the city, for over a year about money details. Manitoba’s NDP premier says his government won’t cover an NHL team’s losses (they’ll leave that to the socialists in Arizona, I guess?), but says “if there are other constructive roles we can play, we will look at it.” Link here.

More stuff on an NHL return to Winnipeg here, here and here. Side note: wow, Vancouver’s pummeling San Jose. 6-2! Yeesh.

HOUSING REPORT The story is “Province Changes Apartment Rules To Protect Renters”. Can you imagine a headline like that being written in Saskatchewan? Regina’s city council approved virtually every condo conversion brought before it despite a rental housing crunch, our NDP killed provincial rent control in 1992 and our current premier called rent control “dangerous”. Forger housing stock; the term that comes to mind for our rudderless housing policy direction is “laughing stock”. And now it’s 7-3 Vancouver.

ALSO, THIS IS PRETTY REPORT Dechene sent me this link to gorgeous design blog The Fox Is Black that praises Winnipeg’s winter skating shelters. They’re gorgeous (if unseasonal). Love to see imagination like that get funded here. Not sure Regina’s leadership (political and business) has much of an eye for art, design or style, though. We’ll have to see how the plaza project turns out, maybe it will be beautiful. Also: Vancouver leads San Jose 2-0 in the series.

prairie dog editor Stephen Whitworth is a long-escaped Winnipegger but sometimes he thinks about the place.

Here’s A Winnipeg Story That Actually Matters (With A Warning For Regina)

There’s a great feature in today’s Globe And Mail on Winnipeg’s attempts to revitalize its downtown. Snip:

Around the world there is a growing understanding that suburban sprawl is unsustainable, and that, for cities to survive, they must shrink back in on themselves, tightening up, promoting density and pushing their growing population into space already served by existing infrastructure and social services. For Winnipeg, the need for change is especially pressing. The city’s population in 2006 was 633,451, but of those, only 13,470 lived downtown. A rush to the suburbs in the 1970s gutted the inner city and crippled downtown retail. Heritage buildings that would be hot commodities elsewhere have sat unoccupied for years, and parking lots seem to occasionally outnumber the cars that use them. Now, the city is desperately trying to realign itself, drawing life back to its centre as a way to sustain its economic core.

It’s no accident that prairie dog is sprawl-obsessed. Its editor (me) is an ex-Winnipegger and I spent the first half of my life going bananas watching that town wreck itself (when I wasn’t going bananas over the bumbling, stumbling Jets, that is). It seemed like every time there was an application to bulldoze some far-flung farmer’s field and plant suburbs, it was approved by pro-developer clods on city council. And yet every day the paper had stories about downtown decay and crime with simpering, blubbering quotes from these same councillors.

Few seemed to see the connection — it was like almost everyone in the city was blind. And it was unbelievably frustrating to watch.

The turn-around began just before I moved here in 1998. A few months after my move, the city elected a mayor, Glenn Murray, who seemed to “get it”. Now, it’s shifted to a point where Winnipeg’s current mayor, who otherwise seems kind of like a lame-O, even acknowledges past development stupidities:

“We want to have a situation where you don’t have a massive population downtown between nine and five and then all of a sudden it’s six o’clock and it’s empty,” says Mayor Sam Katz. “But what people don’t realize is that you can’t correct the mistakes of the past in just a year or two.”

In Winnipeg, even the dorks are starting to get it. Regina can save a lot of time and money by learning from that city’s mistakes. Or we can be clueless, sprawl-mad idiots and watch other cities blow by us.

Do we want it to get to the point where our greatest bands write songs like this?

Learn from others’ failures, be smarter, be better or fail.

Jane’s Walk 2011

They’ve been going on in other cities for some time now. But this will mark only the third annual in Regina. Still, it’s to Regina’s credit that there are people living here with enough gumption to organize an event like this. Throughout the world in 2010 only 68 cities hosted Jane’s Walks. And Regina was one of them.

Named after the late urban theorist Jane Jacobs, who championed human-scale neighbourhoods in the wake of the post-WWII car-dependent suburban boom, the walks are designed to allow people to familiarize themselves with the unique history and architecture of different areas of their city (the above photo is from a walk last year that centred on downtown Regina).

It was announced today that the 2011 Regina Jane’s Walk will be held May 7-8. What organizers are looking for now is people with ideas on tours that they would like to host or who are otherwise willing to volunteer to help ensure the continued success of the event.

If you’re able to participate you can contact Laura at [email protected]