This Week At City Hall: Anger Over Infill, Chief Piapot Statue, Davin Fountain

Monday July 26
CITY COUNCIL (5:30 pm): Considering an application to rezone a parcel of land at 6301 Dalgliesh Dr so that 25 houses can be built on it. The land was originally owned by the Separate School Board but it was never used for a school. Until now, the land was used as a park and an outdoor rink was erected there in the winter. Needless to say, local residents who have written in are none too happy about this project. This despite the fact that the developer has made several changes to his plans to accommodate community concerns. (And, for a nice change of pace, parking is only a minor concern this time around.)

Now, personally, I’m generally a supporter of infill development because I believe Regina is a city that can benefit from more density. In this case, it’s too bad that the neighbourhood will be losing a skating rink but city admin has guaranteed that they’ll find a replacement site this year. And, I concede that it sucks to lose some greenspace from a neighbourhood but it would seem this area has a lot of green space in and around it so maybe losing a lot that was supposed to be paved over and turned into school back in the 70s isn’t the worst thing imaginable. I don’t know.

But one criticism raised by a letter writer absolutely has to be taken seriously, and that’s Planning Commission and Council making assumptions about how citizens feel based on their attendance or non-attendance at meetings.

Here’s how the letter writer put it [after the jump]….

I would like to address a comment made by a member of the planning commission that was made at the last meeting where our neighbours were present. A representative of your committee stated he would support this development since it was obvious people must be in support of the proposal since so few people attended the meeting to speak against this development. I find this an unacceptable interpretation of the area residents’ response to this proposal. It is my belief that our written responses were an acceptable, as well as just as important, as to our attendance at the meeting. I believe there were a significant number of written responses received by the committee. If in fact, you did not intend to consider the content of these letters in your decision you should not have led us to believe a letter was an alternative to attending the meeting…. Please do not assume our non-attendance at a meeting to indicate our acceptance of the proposal. Many people are unable to attend meetings for a lot of legitimate reasons but their voice must be heard.

I really can’t put this better than that. I can only add that I’ve seen this happen often, where criticisms and concerns cited by admin in their reports are essentially dismissed by a councillor or commission member remarking, “No one is here to talk to us today so clearly it can’t be that important to them.” (Or words to that effect.)

This was a huge problem during the condominium conversion kerfuffle. Tenants were invited out to meetings, polled, cajoled and pestered over a period of months. And then to top it all off they were expected to attend both Planning Commission and City Council meetings if they wanted their concerns taken seriously.

Some people have jobs and families. A bloody letter should be good enough.

Ahem.

Anyway. There is more on this council agenda so I’d better get to it.

Council will be considering a lease extension for some space being used by Regina Education and Action on Child Hunger (REACH) — should pass no problem.

Next up, and this is pretty cool, the committee organizing the Celebrations of the Anniversary of the Signing of Treaty Four (on September 1 and 2) are looking for $10,000 in support for their event. They’re also asking council to put up a platform in front of city hall on which they can erect a bronze statue of Chief Piapot. This was already considered by Executive Committee at a closed meeting and approved there. And seeing as Exec Committee is comprised of all of City Council, I suspect this will get approved tomorrow night.

Council will also consider an application to build a four-storey office building on 1827 Albert Street (site of the former Coronet Theatre). I went on a bit about this in an earlier post (that got hijacked by my parking frustrations) so I’ll just reiterate here that this will cover over a nasty vacant lot so, yay!

A company will be asking Council to help them get a left turn access off Prince of Wales Drive into their site on Victoria Ave East. Not sure I understand what’s going on here after a read through of their submission. Hopefully all will be made clear at tomorrow’s meeting.

A request to open a restaurant at 917 11th Avenue is also on the agenda. Still no hint as to what kind of restaurant, though. <fingers crossed> Laotian. </fingers crossed>

The 2009 Public Accounts will be filed. And, finally, Councillor Clipsham will be making a motion to direct the Municipal Heritage Advisory Committee to report on the condition of the Davin Fountain (which used to be in Victoria Park) which is apparently just moldering in storage.

And that’s it for this week. As always, full agendas and reports can be downloaded on the city’s website.

Author: Paul Dechene

Paul Dechene is 5'10'' tall and he was born in a place. He's not there now. He's sitting in front of his computer writing his bio for this blog. He has a song stuck in his head. It's "Girl From Ipanema", thanks for asking. You can follow Paul on Twitter at @pauldechene and get live updates during city council meetings and other city events at @PDcityhall.