Why Did The Metal Patio Table Cross The Road? Because The Plaza Is Stupid.

Plaza Fuckery-1In the last few hours, Prairie Dog received multiple reports of a freaking metal table sitting in the middle of the freaking City Square Plaza roadway. The barricades are down and street is apparently open to traffic today — I took several photos of vehicles driving past the offending table — although the removable bollards were nowhere to be seen.

Who put the table there? Dunno. But it’s no surprise that citizens don’t know how to use the plaza. Its roadway is very badly marked — the bollards (when they’re there) are small and far from sufficiently obvious, the expensive Italian stone is the same colour in both the pedestrian and and traffic areas, and the space generally is a muddle of disparate elements that don’t coherently coalesce into a whole. The plaza was built without adequate public consultation over a couple of delay-filled years and underwent several changes mid-construction that probably didn’t help (the designing architect and the City are suing each other, actually).

This, people, is why good design is important: good design allows people to infer how a public space is to be used. Bad design leads to tables being set up in the middle of the street.

Ugh. This is one part of our beloved former mayor’s legacy he should leave off his resume.

FOOTNOTE: After photographing this (VERY) heavy metal table sitting in the middle of the road in this incoherently-designed plaza that makes no sense and is understood by no one*, Engaged Citizen Karen suggested we move the thing. Which we did, because it’s freaking dangerous to have zillion-pound metal tables in the middle of the road.

Plaza Fuckery-fixed

*I assume it was built in an ugly brutalist style at taxpayer expense to be the front lawn for a future Hill tower but there’s no evidence of that, that I’m aware of.

More photos after the jump.

Plaza Fuckery-2Plaza Fuckery-3Plaza Fuckery-4

Author: Stephen Whitworth

Prairie Dog editor Stephen Whitworth will never, ever pass up a chance to make a Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo pun.

16 thoughts on “Why Did The Metal Patio Table Cross The Road? Because The Plaza Is Stupid.”

  1. Maybe this is just the start.. Gawd I hate to think of How much CoR peeps will pay to maintain an open 12th ave this / any future winter..

  2. I reckon the cost won’t be any higher than last year. The CoR put priority on clearing the square after every giant snow dump last winter, despite the fact that citizen’s are loathe to “linger” on a windswept frozen hellhole of bare concrete and rusty zig zag poles.

  3. The ambiguity of the design elements (i.e. the colour match between “pedestrian” and “traffic” areas, the absence of clear markings) is actually a safety feature of a well designed shared space. When confronted with an ambiguous driving situation, drivers will significantly slow down and become significantly more aware of their surroundings (especially non-vehicle surroundings). This reduces both the number and severity of accidents in the shared space. I do think the plaza is an ugly, fragmented monstrosity, but those elements are actually a feature of good shared-space design.

    Disclaimer: I stole (and probably mischaracterized) most of the content of this post from Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us) by Tom Vanderbilt.

  4. The placement of the table directly atop a manhole cover (the strongest driving lane signal on that part of the plaza)and far from anything of note lead me to believe this was an intentional political act by someone who disapproves of driving on the plaza, not an innocent mistake. I arbitrarily accuse Ron.

  5. The Plaza is Quality in action. And unanimously approved by City Council therefore approved by the citizens – just like P3ing the WWTP. So all of you complaining about it are clearly miscreants and troublemakers.

    Oh yeah – the table. Maybe someone left it there to be salvaged by the can collectors.

  6. Just when you think the “Plaza” cannot get any goofier…. a Table appears!

    (and while the City may be cleaning the snow off the “road”, the snow is then piled onto the space where the pedestrians should be walking… it is all silly and awkward! — not to mention maddening!!)

  7. The table was hosting a meeting of the members of City Council that are honest and ethical.

    It’s probably safe to remove it at least until the next election.

  8. With respect Jeannie, I work directly alongside the plaza – and the whole schmeer received priority clearance the day after or( in cases of afternoon snow dumps) the evening of a blizzard. I literally can attest to the efforts the city has made to coerce people to hang out in the wind tunnel that is the plaza. I note that the city appears to have given up on scheduling events on the stage that cannot function as a proper stage or the fountain cum rockpile cum garden bed.

  9. If it’s not bolted down, the City didn’t do it. Why? If there is loose seating in the area, then they’d have to install bathrooms, and they wouldn’t want people to be relieved to be in Victoria Park, would they?

  10. Folks, the plaza is here to stay. You may not like it, you may have preferred it remain an exhaust-choked street – but get over it. The mysterious table has been in use every time I crossed through the plaza so it’s serving a purpose. Imagine if all the naysayers got together and directed their energy towards improving the plaza – there are great examples of site-specific installations, public interventions, urban improvements created by small, resident-lead initiatives. Instead, a select group of Reginians cannot imagine anything but to complain. You paint an awfully sour image of the residents of our city as a whole. How about you raise the bar a bit and do something positive and creative?!

  11. J.

    My office has a direct view of the mysterious table. I’ve never seen it used. Ever.

    Most of the intended uses of the plaza are redundant, with the Scarth Street Mall right around the corner.

    If cars could also share the Scarth Street mall, you would have people there choking on exhaust as they try to eat their lunch. Right now, they just choke on the plaza, as half ton trucks cruise through, people drive the wrong way, others deke around the bollards so they can cut through to Lorne St.

    The food truck thing is not really working out; half the trucks that were regularly there last year are elsewhere this year (bon burger, I’m looking at you).

    The only thing people can realistically do to ‘improving the plaza’ is to yell at vehicles: ‘Slow Down!’ ‘You’re going the wrong way.’ ‘You’re not supposed to park in here.’

    It was a stupid idea, to have a hybrid vehicle/pedestrian space. That’s because those who are responsible for it – the real ‘select group’ – hoped that they could get away with closing
    12th Ave completely to traffic. And then what a swell frontage it would make for Hill Tower IV.

  12. oh yeah, forgot to mention:

    the sewer line under the plaza doesn’t work, either

    on one of the manholes there, someone actually lifted the manhole cover, and put a garbage bag over it, then replaced the manhole cover; it’s been there for weeks, but will probably disappear now

    i’m thinking, it was either one of the farmers markets stall folks, who couldn’t stand the smell

    or city workers did it, responding to a complaint

    think about that

  13. Took another look at Atilla’s table and chairs… it’s indeed freakishly heavy. It’s like some kind of specialty urban furniture whose weight is designed to foil theft. I shudder to imagine how much the current administration paid for it. Considering this crew can’t do a quick lunch meeting without dropping $350,000 on robo-calls, they probably wouldn’t even blink at the expense.

    Also the covered drains have been that way all summer.

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