LIP Sticking Out #YQRcc

There are a few great letters to City Council on the Agenda, including one by Glenda Calcutta, and this by Alex and Jill Docking.

It is telling perhaps that most of the streets prop
osed for Local improvements also were successfully blocked by property owner petitions.

We were in favour of this work being done on Assiniboine Avenue. It was just a little over due — by about 40 years according to your own
That said, I certainly understand why many would not wish to take on thousands of dollars in debt — at an interest rate far above what would be reasonable in 2014 — when they already face a substantial increase in city property taxes already this year.
I find it interesting to note that your city documents indicate that the streets are checked every four years to determine if they are due for this work. And yet, this (1954) street was not on a list four years ago, eight years ago, 12 years ago, 16 years ago — even though it clearly was in a highly deteriorated condition for all of that time and much more.

If my property is left a mess, quite rightly the city will eventually come along and force me to clean it up. Who is going to force the city of Regina to clean up its mess?
A last anecdotal note: when we have had visitors from elsewhere at our home — one of the first comments made: ‘don’t you pay your taxes on this street’.

We pay taxes — lots of taxes — is it not about time you (The City) take some of the money paid in taxes on this street over 60 years — SIXTY YEARS — and do the work that so desperately needs to be done??

–Alex and Jill

In fact, the City isn’t budgeting for sidewalks in property taxes, so that’s a mistake that should have long ago been fixed. Saskatoon fixed their mistake.

Of course, the sidewalk benefits residents on both sides but the LIP is charging only inside owners for it – clear discrimination. Since the city assesses the LIP costs by property frontage and flankage, the neighbors (on the outside of the crescent ) with the large pie shape lots pay the least while the lone neighbor on the inside corner pays the most – more discrimination. This cost disparity is pitting neighbor against neighbor – inside vs. outside.

To give you a more tangible idea of this disparity:
(# of Residents, Average Cost)
Outside (17, $3,970)
Inside (12, $7,554)

Actual assessed cost to the inside corner owner is

Based on the Saskatchewan Provincial Government guidelines provided to municipalities regarding LIP, the city clearly has the power to make it right.

Searching for Sidewalks

In Regina, where the City doesn’t pay for sidewalks (see LIP, or this fun lawsuit), it’s not easy to find them in some areas. There’s no sidewalk to the Airport. There’s also no sidewalk in most of the pedestrian nightmare-ville known as Victoria Ave. East. and Quance Street.

Now that snow and ice is melting away from Regina’s sidewalks, a group of citizens is surveying the pathways to see how accessible they actually are.

On Thursday afternoon, members of the concrete and sidewalk committee, part of the Regina Citizens’ Public Transit Coalition, took to Regina’s Quance Street to document missing sidewalks.

“(The city) asked us to form a sub-committee to offer areas that need renovation,” said Terri Sleeva, chair of the coalition. “We’re just in the beginning. It’s a big job and we’re going to do something about it. Whether they listen to us or not is a different story.”

Perhaps telling of the condition of the area, wheelchair-user Sleeva waited in a vehicle while Maureen Eckstein, Erika Baron, and Jim Elliott walked eastward on Quance starting at Coleman Street – an area that doesn’t actually have a sidewalk.

There are not even parking meters in the vicinity from which valuable funds could come from people driving to the area, to rejuvenate the amenities. That would also depend on City Council assigning meter revenue to the area of the city from which it’s collected, so as to not use downtown’s meter revenue for general expenses related to sprawl.

#Transit Study Calls for Improved Shelters #YQRcc

“The City receives $605,000 per year from advertising on the buses.”
-This should be used to purchase a bus to the Airport next year, and a new bus each of the following years.

- Improved shelters that have doors and are heated in the Winter will be a great improvement. Another overlooked human element downtown includes access to water and washroom facilities. The Cornwall Centre washrooms are not very convenient for transit users, and there are no drinking fountains or even drink vending machines close to where people wait for buses.

- Temporary bus stop signs could be put up on Wascana Parkway south of Kramer Blvd. by next week, to let dozens of riders per day off hundreds of meters closer to where they want to board and disembark the #3. I made a request for this stop location many months ago, and the City never got back to me with a status report of why it’s not been completed, or inexcusably refused, so I could follow up.

I say it’s unthinkable that a stop request at that location can’t be accommodated, because there are identical stops at Wascana Parkway and 23rd Ave, and have been for decades. Two years ago during the repair of University Dr. south and Wascana Parkway, temporary stops were set up on Wascana Parkway only 50m from where I’d like to see them now.

- When will the R-Card and Leisure Card be combined? I see City Hall has added another RFID card to its main floor, why was this done to further fracture the access cards in use by the City at one time?

- When will Regina Transit sell Day Passes on the buses using the ticket printers? Ottawa had this technology in 2002. In 2002 Windows XP was 1 year old, and it’s being retired 6 days from now. Will Regina catch up before Windows 8 is put out to pasture?

- Will the TransitLive City App be given a hand warming feature for those checking their smart phones in Winter for when the next bus might come by?

- What is a “dual street transit hub” planned for Lorne St.? If it means transfers are taking place on both 11th Ave. and Lorne St. I won’t be able to see if my bus is there to transfer to it. There are only brick walls, and no services on that street

- Security should be provided from the RPS budget. An officer or two should be assigned to travel by Transit, and walk/bike downtown. Having our police mostly in cars, isolated from citizens they are intended to serve, is not creating a good working environment for them, nor does it give citizens the opportunity to positively interact with the RPS.

- Layover time for a bus needs to be where the driver can use washroom facilities, or pick up food.

- Adding smaller, less durable buses to downtown will create more transfers, and make the transit system less useful overall.

- The Province should be asked to provide whatever money it’s spending on the RQHA shuttle buses, to be used for Regina Transit buses that perform the same route, but allow citizens to help pay for the service with their fares.

- Turn Hamilton St. into a bike street like Smith St. and Lorne St., but use Saskatoon’s Better Bike Lane plan and move parking into the middle lane so bikes can be safer next to the sidewalk. Upgrade with Smart Parking Meters so this is possible.

- A new parking structure will cram more cars into downtown, increasing congestion downtown on streets at rush hour as those vehicles come and go. Is this the Mayor’s plan for congestion downtown? Really? Chad Novak endorsed the idea of more parking structures downtown at the Executive Council meeting today.

Note that 11th Ave. is an “important retail street” because it is well served by Transit, not in spite of it.
Continue reading

Lawson Scandal #YQRcc

A useful summary of the problems around the Lawson Acquatic Centre, by Tammy Robert:

“I’ve got a stack of info here showing kids with no pre-existing condition & who are not elite athletes were hospitalized.”
“there’s definitely at least one serious incident on file in the #yqr mayor’s office.”
“I’m seeing that RQHR initially wouldn’t meet with parents after that advisory at the request of the club’s BofD.”

“Did #yqr police chief Hagen seriously think he could sit around and mull this over for 2 weeks & it wouldn’t get out? Really??”

“Throughout the course of 2013, significant, alarming concerns were raised by #yqr swim club (board & parents) about health, safety of kids.”
“The City of Regina, RQHR & Ministry of Health heard the concerns. Out of one side of their mouths the club’s B of D howled for a fix.”
“But on other side, there was no way anyone was shutting down the #yqr swim club. Where would future Olympians train? & All. That. Revenue.”
“With little action, parents got angry, & divisive over future of #yqr swim club. Concerns over finances compounded pressure on club B of D.”

“Why has Swim Saskatchewan refused to allow provincial meets in the facility, but hasnt stopped #yqr kids/RODSC from training there?”

UPDATE: The police officer is the brother of a Dolphins rep.

Why Is Downtown #YQR Dead At Night? #YQRcc

In response to Christina Cherneskey’s blog about why Downtown is largely barren after 5:30pm:

One problem is that our parks bylaw prohibits people from enjoying Victoria Park after 11PM, preventing a slew of shift workers from “loitering” or “remaining” in the Park after the Police try to chase out supposed troublemakers. This sends the wrong message to people overall, and they stay away, even though it’s mostly safe.

Another issue is bathrooms. After 9pm, the number of open public washrooms downtown is more than halved! This is in part a factor of the City being cheap, and another is its discrimination toward homeless people, who are another part of the equation. Shelters for the homeless, and resources to help them cope with common afflictions like addiction and mental illness that many of them suffer from, are not in sufficient supply.

Downtown gets locked up. The Cornwall Centre becomes a huge roadblock for someone walking from Victoria Ave. to the Casino, after 6pm most days. Pedestrian overpasses don’t appear on maps or signs, and are locked anyway at night. Scarth St. Mall locks up their indoor hallway, despite some business owners’ objections.

RDBID needs to make Downtown open and welcoming, and offer human amenities they require of (popular) special events (like bathrooms).

Encourage new office towers to all have living spaces in them too, so more people can live downtown, close to where they work. Allow food stores, and community gardens, and a community oven/ outdoor kitchen to open downtown. Don’t close one of the closest schools. Add more bike lanes. Improve snow clearing for pedestrians. Rebuild Regina’s tunnels, so people can travel from one end to the other, underground! Give people easier access to drinking water from public fountains.

People want to take their families where they know they’ll have food, water, shelter, and a place to use a clean bathroom. That doesn’t describe most of Regina’s downtown after 6pm most days, I’m sorry to say.

Tarring Transit

There’s an inaccurate thought going around and it’s repeated by politicians, civil servants, consultants, and citizens alike. It goes something like, “Transit isn’t a money maker.” What makes it inaccurate, are the assumptions that transit should make a profit (whatever that means for a public service), and that other forms of vehicle transportation make a city a profit. Can you tell me how much money someone makes a city’s general revenue fund when they get to work on public streets via their private car? If someone gets on a bus, they make the City $2.00 prepaid or $2.50 cash. Buses make money every day by acting as “rolling billboards” for Rawlco Radio, who pays for the public space to advertise.

Buses are far more versatile vehicles for transportation needs in a city. Because our road network has been created at great expense to make it easiest for cars to get around, it gives the unverifiable impression to people that public transportation is more expensive. Read on, to see why…

We need services like dial-a-ride mainly because our car-oriented transportation system often leaves disabled Americans — not to mention the poor, the elderly and those too young to drive — waiting by the side of the road.

Over and over again, we call on transit to compensate for the failures of cars. Need to get New Year’s Eve revelers home without killing each other on the roadways? Extend transit service hours, put more buses on the road, and make them free. How about getting large crowds of people to a festival or a big game without triggering gridlock? Provide shuttle buses or run extra trains.

These are smart choices. But there is a cost to correcting these failures, and in the crude accounting done by folks such as the Post op-ed writers, all of them wind up on the “transit” side of the ledger.

It’s a nifty trick, really. Design a transportation system that leaves a wide swath of the population unserved and tends to fail when you need it most (including pretty much every weekday morning and evening in most American cities). Call on transit to fill the gap, sometimes at great expense. Then tar transit as being the inefficient user of public funds.

– Tony Dutzik, Senior Analyst, Frontier Group, in Streetsblog USA

Libel Lecture

It’s surreal to wake up and read a friend’s message that your name is on the second page of the province’s largest newspapers, because a radio host with a newspaper column decided to sling mud your way. Last Tuesday I attended my 3rd lecture in a week at the UofR by a public speaker, the last one being by John Gormley. To the surprise of everyone in the room, his talk was interrupted by a noisy, yelling, protester. I put the video on my blog, as I did with the other two recent lectures.

Mr. Gormley’s radio station and his radio show in his “showbizzy” way extensively promoted my video of his lecture with the altercation and some interviews I tacked onto the end. In his column’s recap of the lecture, and on TV, he singled me out with derogatory remarks, claiming falsely that I was “leering and giggling” at his misfortune of being aggressively interrupted. Others were recording, and my video too confirms I was not giggling during this interruption. I don’t know how Mr. Gormley could interpret my rapt attention during a public lecture and his unusual altercation as “leering”, but I confirm there was no malice intended. Perhaps radio personalities aren’t used to people looking at them as they talk.

It seem improbable that Mr. Gormley intended no malice with his untrue comments about my behaviour and my political position on the spectrum he measures people by. I suppose even moderates like myself appear left wing from Mr. Gormley’s political perch, as he imagines people with different political views as conspiring against him.

Continue reading