Back when city council took the decision to keep the City Square Plaza closed to traffic, one of the big arguments staff offered in favour of this was that they could foresee over 200 days of programming on the plaza. So, if the plaza is already going to be closed for two thirds of the year, how would it help to open it for that last third?
Well, this week I received the list of existing and potential programs that city staff want to put on the plaza and it puts that “200 days” claim in doubt.
I’ll put the entire list I was sent after the fold, but here’s the first part that lists off the existing programs. The numbers after the items are, I assume, the number of days each event is supposed to take up — that is how those numbers were characterized when discussed in council, at least. But clearly no units are included so maybe these indicate “programming blocks” or something.
Farmers Market — approx. 50
Folk Festival — 3
JazzFest — 3
Ukrainian Fall Festival — 1
Movies in the Park — 6
I Love Regina Day — 1
Remembrance Day Ceremonies — 1
Light the Lights Christmas event — 1
Regina Downtown BID activities (i.e. yoga, tai chi, fitness classes, Words in the Park etc) — 36
F.W. Hill Mall activities (i.e. Downtown Concert Series, Day of Caring, Culture Days etc) — 50
TOTAL (approx.) — 152
So this is supposed to total 152 “days” but already that’s looking pretty suspect. The Farmers Market counts for 50 but really those are only 50 half days. Saturday mornings, no less. Not exactly a high-traffic time in the downtown unless you’re going to the Farmers Market.
Other things on here are also just blocks of several hours, not entire days. Light the Lights for instance and the BID activities like yoga, tai chi and fitness classes.
As for the Remembrance Day Ceremonies, again those are only a few hours out of a day. And wouldn’t it be appropriate to continue having those at the war memorial? Actually… I’d say it’d be inappropriate to move them away from the war memorial. But hey, I’m a sucker for tradition.
And then there are those FW Hill Mall activities, which are already happening on FW Hill Mall — that other pedestrian-only plaza that’s just around the corner from our new pedestrian-only plaza. Now that we’re taking all the programming off Scarth, does that mean we can open it up to car traffic? That was the original plan in the draft version of the Downtown Neighbourhood Plan, after all.
Anyway, in summary, I’m only counting seven days where the plaza would absolutely have to be shut to car traffic for the entire day.
But how about all those events the city imagines it could potentially put there? Well, I think you’ll find the list they have is awfully speculative….
Fringe Festival free stage
Canada Day Festival
National Aboriginal Day
Labour Day Festival
Weekday stage programming
Movies in the Park (expanded program)
Santa Claus parade
Buffalo Days parade
Flea market (Monthly, Sundays)
Monthly antique market (Monthly, Sundays)
U of R Fine Arts students’ annual show and sale
Snow and ice festival
Snow sculpture carving
Food truck/street food festival (one summer, one winter)
Taste of Regina
Taste of Downtown
Downtown BID festival
Classic/Muscle car show and shine
Vintage farm machinery show and shine (during Agribition or Western Farm Progress Show)
Snow machine (Ski Doo) show and shine
Remote control vehicle meets
Regina Floral Associates perennial swap meet
Giant United Way bake sale
Battle of the bands
Dance lessons (evenings, weekends or noon hours)
Yearly Culture festival where “mainstream” purveyors of culture in the City put on shows during a weekend to
help entice ticket sales
I Love Regina Run and other running event start/finish
Three on three basketball
Road hockey tournaments
Outdoor screen for Grey Cup, Stanley Cup, Olympics, etc.
Boot Camp/Booty Camp
Portable skate park elements
Scraper Bike rally (during bike to work week)
Soapbox Derby (like plywood Cup)
Museum programs (Sask. Sports Hall of Fame, Royal Sask., Science Centre, Plains)
Art Gallery programs (Dunlop/MacKenzie)
Children’s Midway/Antique Carousel/Ferris Wheel
Downtown tourist carriage rides
Barbeque/chili cook offs
Huge fowl supper (organized by downtown churches)
Pretty impressive, eh? So many things we could put on the plaza. Except… did you catch how many of these events don’t even exist? Who’s going to run all this stuff? They’re going to need a whole other department at city hall. I bet it’ll be really well funded too! [/sarcasm]
Some of my favourite items:
• Boot/Booty camp – A “booty camp”? I bet it’s tasteful, whatever it is.
• Speaker series – Surely, the UofR will jump at the chance to participate in this considering how well this went the last time.
• Jibfest – I like the cut of this one.
• Bocce/boules – Seeing as you can’t play these on cobblestone, you’ll have to bring in some artificial turf to mimic a park. Because that will be better than using the park. That’s next to the plaza.
• Beach day – What?? Seriously. What?? Are they going to ship in some truckloads of sand and play beach volleyball maybe? Get people to bring umbrellas and wading pools and pretend they’re at the beach? Oh, wait. I bet that’s exactly what they’re talking about.
• Pond hockey & Pond curling – That’s not on a pond.
• Yearly Culture festival where “mainstream” purveyors of culture in the City put on shows during a weekend to
help entice ticket sales – I like how they have to block out “mainstream” in ironic quote marks. City hall can be so bitchy.
• Soapbox Derby (like plywood Cup) – How old timey! Don’t you need hills for this?
• Huge fowl supper (organized by downtown churches) – Has someone told the downtown churches they’ve just been volunteered for this?
• Canada Day Festival – Yeah. Because who wants to hold this in Wascana Park? That place sucks. Too many goddamn trees. Not enough paving stone.
I could go on. Oh, how I could go on. But then, I might intrude on the fun you could be having in the comments section.
But I do want to end with mention of the skating rink. They’ve actually had that set up by the soon-to-probably-be-turned-into-a-parking-lot Gordon Block for a couple months now. And, you know, I like the idea of putting a rink on the plaza in the winter. But have you seen the size of it? There’s no reason it couldn’t be set up south of the Ugly Orange Light Standards. And that would put it out of the way of traffic — if you were to open the plaza to traffic, that is. And if you were to put the rink there, you’d be right next to the benches. Which would be really convenient when you want to put on or take off your skates. Right now, if you use the benches for that, you have to cross a wide open, not-covered-in-ice-rink space.
Also, someone pointed out that on blustery days, there’s a wind-tunnel effect on the plaza when you’re close to the buildings. Which is where the rink is. Now, that’s good if you want to skate in one direction. But not so good if you want to skate in two. Or more.
I guess we’re lucky Regina isn’t a very windy city.
Anyway, what I’m getting at is that the skating rink really doesn’t need to interfere with car traffic and that it would arguably be better if it was moved a few metres to the south so that it wouldn’t interfere with traffic. So I’m thinking maybe using the rink as a pretext for keeping the plaza closed all winter might be a little disingenuous.
Same goes for a bunch of other items. Dance lessons. Tai chi. Plenty of the things on this list will not only be part-day events, they’ll also be small enough that they wouldn’t have to interfere with having car traffic on the plaza.
Another thing I find amusing about the list is how whimsical it is. Weekly antique fairs. Vintage farm machinery shows. Clearly these are the result of a group of people brainstorming a bunch of what they think are “fun” ideas. (Note the use of ironic quote marks.) And what surprises me isn’t how imaginative their ideas are. But how… I don’t know… humdrum they are.
Why, if I’d been at that table, the programs you could have expected to see on the plaza would have Kicked Ass.
Just off the top of my head: Day of the Dead parade, Sci-Fi/Comic Book Convention, Head-to-Head Video Game Competitions (on a giant TV screen), Zombie Walks, Shark Gun Demonstrations, A Goddamn Roller Coaster, Nosebleed Races, Genetic Engineering Competitions, Mad Science Festival, Rocketry Workshops, Giant Insect Expo, Black Magic Lessons, Heavy Metal Guitar Lessons, Close-up Magic Festival, Circus Arts Workshops, Explosives For Fun And Profit Workshops, A My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic Fan Convention, Corner Gas Commemoration Day Activities, Historical Pre-enactment Society Demonstrations….
Wow. This is fun. And I’m just getting warmed up.
And sure, one or two of my ideas might seem a little implausible or only of interest to a fairly exclusive audience — like nosebleed races — but if your goal is just to pad a list of activities so you can justify keeping the plaza closed to car traffic, the least you could do is make the list interesting to read.