Wascana Calls Back

I took a call from Wascana’s CEO who explained their position on spending $193000 to expand the parking lot[PDF] at Candy Cane Park. Their view is more cars that already park illegally on the street will use it, and as a result kids will be safer because they won’t run out between illegally street-parked cars, presumably.

Can’t say that’s how it will work, I said “mark my words, there will still be spill-over onto the street, and more cars overall”. She had to concede at busy times, that’s how it will go. It’ll take more than my voice to end this #strandedasset project. Oh, it also increases runoff by replacing soil with pavement, reducing the water quality in Wascana Creek.

It’s 2017, and if we don’t limit air pollution quickly, our kids will have a rough go of things. Putting a dollar more into auto infrastructure before cycling and pedestrian infrastructure makes kids less safe, not more.

On the upside, Wascana is putting some trails through the arboretum near Wascana Rehab and Hillsdale St.

Also they will now consider manually clearing Broad St. Bridge which wasn’t being swept clear of snow like everything else the last two Winters. I explained that the City of Regina builds nothing for cyclists, so it’s really up to Wascana Centre to provide cycling infrastructure for Reginans.

Added two more important points:

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4 New Councillors Could Shift The Balance

I’m more optimistic today than I was yesterday about the new Council. Although a majority 6 Councillors were returned, with 4 new faces it’s possible that some of the incumbents could be convinced to change their votes on a number of issues.

Lori Bresciani is new in Ward 4. I’m concerned about her current view on downtown parking.

If we want to people to come downtown Parking has to available and convenient.  I do not believe we have adequate parking and we need to provide more parking options for residents.

Contrast her view with Joel’s below. I hope her perspective will change with experience.

Jason Mancinelli, a highly rated auto mechanic, is new in Ward 9. I couldn’t find his campaign page. He appears to want action on environmental issues. If he makes his first impact on changing the culture of transit by turning down his Council parking pass, and insist upon a Transit pass instead, that will be great.

Andrew Stevens in Ward 3 wants a bus route to the airport, first thing. That’s long overdue, and low hanging fruit. He also wants a housing first strategy that works, like Medicine Hat has. That’s great! He wants to “work towards water conservation and stewardship.” Excellent! He’ll focus on implementing the Transportation Master Plan, and Official Community Plan.

Fixing our infrastructure: The current Council has prioritized sprawl at the expense of maintaining and improving our existing infrastructure. Instead, we need to develop a strategy for improving public transit, bike infrastructure and recreation facilities, while fully implementing the Official Community Plan and Neighbourhood Plans.

When it comes to infrastructure, we need to talk about dedicated bike lanes and a better public transit systems. Cars are expensive and damaging to our health. We need to change, and that’s why I’d look to recommendations in our Transportation Master Plan for guidance.

Joel Murray in Ward 6 seems to understand that parking in downtown cannot be solved by adding more car parking. He gets bonus points for knowing about car sharing.

If we can invest more into options other than a private car (bike lanes, car sharing, and transit) we can keep rates low and have more parking available.

Protecting out environment is paramount. As a community we need to work together on diverting more from our landfill, expanding transit, increasing bike lanes, shopping local, and working from home if possible.

Is approval of the Blue Dot motion forthcoming from this changed Council? Time will tell.

One Size Fits None #YQRcc

A couple Sundays ago I noticed a Regina City parking enforcement vehicle. It caught my eye, because it was a large GMC SUV. Why would an SUV be used for parking enforcement? In New York City, which also has Winter storms and cold weather, they use vehicles literally smaller than golf carts, to get around and write parking tickets. Why would a City supposedly attempting to reduce its carbon footprint, buy over-sized gas guzzlers to idle in traffic (since they’re too big to park where legal parking is already overwhelmed)?

I phoned Service Regina to find out. Parking Enforcement called me back the next day and I asked why SUVs are being bought. It’s up to the Fleet Manager, explained the Parking employee. I asked if I could speak to them rather than call Service Regina again about the same question. Sure, but they’ll probably send the request back over to Parking because it’s mentioning a Parking vehicle. *sigh*

The Parking office offered this suggestion as to why the ridiculous choice of SUVs for parking enforcement has been made:

The vehicles have to do enforcement on the limits of the City, like a portion of Winnipeg St. that isn’t paved, and their smaller cars were needing to be towed, and that wastes time. Even with Winter tires, they were getting stuck.

So the reason we need more SUVs cruising around the city in the Summer, branded with our government’s logo, is that our infrastructure is so 3rd World, that ordinary cars can’t make round trips without tow trucks. Gee, if someone is going to park illegally in a place that standard parking enforcement can’t go, and might need a tow, maybe the income from that ticket isn’t really worth it? Send the tow truck to grab the illegally parked vehicle, instead. (Or teach Parking enforcers not to drive into mud and snow drifts.)

A large GMC SUV must cost at least $30,000, as a conservative estimate [yikes, wasn’t conservative enough, it’s only $25,300!]. A GM EV Volt would cost about the same or less. One will burn a tank of gas every few days. The other will have zero tailpipe emissions and low noise. Why is our City’s Fleet service choosing wrong, to solve a problem that has better solutions than more vehicular pollution?

ADDED:

Their answer is that the old people working for Parking want to step up into an SUV rather than sit down into a lower car. Also, being stuck is a concern.

The employees prefer the SUV, which no doubt is a more intimidating vehicle than the more standard Focus. (It also could help compensate for a feeling of inadequacy.)

Back To Blue Dot

Adding to earlier discussion about the Blue Dot movement’s appearance at City Council last month, there’s an article by Fingas in the Leader Post.

Paul Dechene also unloads on Council’s hypocritical messages sent by their focus in the meeting.

…our city council postponed signing onto a declaration saying that a healthy environment is a human right because they needed to get a report from administration about the possible implications from being party to such a declaration. You know how it is, signing on to a non-binding feel-good doc like that isn’t something you leap into recklessly.

…fleet additions he argued against.

Too late.

Regina Budget Concerns One

It’s time for City Hall to stop putting our money where their butts are (a small joke about the parkade being a smokers’ hangout), and invest that half million into Transit instead.

We could listen to Councillors crying about their free parking passes, or we could do something to see the Transit system improved and demand they use it. If it doesn’t meet their needs, well, then welcome to the big honking club.

Developer Ordered To Rebuild The Plains

…Can you imagine?

“Developer ordered to rebuild historic pub after demolishing it without planning permission”

Udhyam Amin was accused of trying to get planning permission ‘by the back door’ after pulling down the Alchemist pub in Battersea

Electric Times

On CBC.ca/sask recently.

You can just feel the electricity at City Hall. Actually, you can’t. Neither can an electric car, because the City’s recommending that it save $26,000, hedging that the future will not consist mostly of electric vehicles. Other cities and towns differ, and instead are taking up the offer of free car chargers from Sun Country Highway.

The EV chargers report did not make a good conclusion based on the facts presented in the same report. As the world adapts to support EVs, Regina community facilities without chargers will stick out like a sore thumb. Instead of saving $26000 on installs now, the City will in a few years pay the cost of the installs, plus the cost of the chargers and signage.

It’s frankly a miracle there are 5 EVs in the city already, given the total lack of government support for them at every governance level. Instead of planning for the future, the report signals City Hall’s effort to preserve the past even after past practice has proven to be unsustainable.

The City’s acting director of planning said, “We’re just questioning whether or not there’s enough market demand.” Well, the five cars in Regina aren’t the only vehicles to consider. There are all of the tourists who won’t stop at our libraries and community rec centres. There’s everyone waiting to buy an EV once the government signals they’ll be supported. There’s a private company offering thousands of dollars of free equipment and signage to help the City reduce its carbon footprint. It’s pretty clear there’s enough market demand, and even if there wasn’t, that means the report’s estimate for how much the City would pay in electricity costs is not reasonable. The private company and market can’t just buy a parking spot at City Hall, they need the support of Council.

Here, the market is trying to solve the old problem, what comes first, the chicken or the egg. And if the City rejects free eggs, there will never be many chickens here.

For additional consideration, the 3 locations chosen in the report don’t have to be the last word. SaskPower had been planning to install EV chargers during their now cancelled headquarter upgrades. Partner with SaskPower and put a charger into their parking lot behind their tower on Victoria Ave., free for public EV use when SaskPower isn’t making use of it. Get SaskPower to pay for the electricity for that charger! Or have them install a second charger beside the Sun Country Highway charger and save on install-costs.

If meter revenue is so coveted, install the charger where there isn’t a meter – I didn’t see this idea suggested as an alternative.

If coal electricity is a concern, realize that solar power can be added soon after and the electricity provided will be as green as possible, something gasoline vehicles can’t easily be converted to make use of.

If the expense is the concern, save $26,000 to $1.3Mil each year, by not giving away so much free parking to City employees and fellow Councillors.

At $25,000 / new EV, when 21 are purchased because Regina offered support, the province will recoup all $26,000 invested, as PST.
21 vehicles represents 1.2% of all new cars sold in a year by 1 Regina dealership.

ADDED:
“Saskatchewan car dealers are expected to sell 54,000 new passenger cars and trucks in 2015, down slightly from 56,000 new motor vehicles in 2014, according to Scotiabank’s global auto report released Tuesday.”

Clearly, selling 21 EVs out of 54000 vehicles sold across the province, is not a challenge if even one dealership puts their mind toward the task.

UPDATE:
http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatchewan/regina-council-to-decide-on-electric-charging-stations-1.3262208?cmp=rss

UPDATE 2016:

Canadian firm plans new sales model for EVs

“In the first half of 2016, 4,288 electric cars were sold in Canada, a 54 per cent jump over sales in the first half of 2015, according to FleetCarma, “