A Few Steps Forward, Regina Moves Back

The progress of a city is not assured by the passage of time. Regina has unquestionably progressed in some areas of life, and unquestionably regressed in others. The following is an incomplete list.

100 years ago, chickens were allowed to roam free.
Now, the City prohibits them even in a backyard.

60 years ago, Electric Vehicles were common on some Regina streets, in the form of streetcars. Now, only a few dozen or so EVs are in the city, as electric bikes, cars, and SUVs. We also had a bus route to the airport, but no bus is available to the airport today.

Also 60 years ago, we allowed toxic waste dumping into our soil and groundwater, all over the city. Now that’s only permitted at the landfill.

28 years ago, you could leave Regina by STC bus, or by Via Rail train. Now, in 2017, neither of those modes of transportation are an option due to government cuts without environmental reviews being undertaken to guide those bad decisions.

27 years ago, Parking enforcement used sensibly sized vehicles. Now they use GMC gas burning SUVs.

January 1990 Parking enforcement vehicle

STC Is Transit

Dear Ministers:
Over the next 5 years, Saskatchewan’s capital city is expected to spend over $175 million to operate transit services. That you feel $85 million* is too much for the entire province to spend on an important service for which there is no alternative in most locations despite your insistence that it’s coming “in the future”, is a disgrace. You can’t even take a bus between Saskatoon and Regina today, you have to go through Winnipeg. Next week you can go through Yorkton and back at a cost of $114 for less than half of the journey’s non-direct distance.

Regina’s Mayor Fougere said this about transit services,
“I would view it as an essential program for the quality of life for those who are most vulnerable, those who do not have the ability to pay, but certainly require transportation,” the mayor said Tuesday. “This is fundamental to the quality of life in […] Saskatchewan.”

Minister Beaudry-Mellor said, “Having this transportation option available to them is really critical if we want to see employment opportunities realized, or education opportunities realized, or even access to basic medical appointments,” Beaudry-Mellor said. “Many people don’t have access to a vehicle in […] communities that are on our programs.”

If your hypocrisy isn’t apparent now, I don’t know how else to describe it to you, but I’ll try again if you insist on not rescuing STC from the scrap heap you put it on without even replacement services in place first.

Sincerely,
John Klein
Regina, SK

*Minister’s 5 year reference below:

Minister Hargrave STC

Last Night In Regina, Another Person Run Over

Hours before I met with dozens of cyclists at Artful Dodger at Bike Regina‘s latest advocacy meeting, a 21 year old man was hit by a truck on 7th Avenue.

No one there had heard about the tragedy, but many including myself expressed a desire for the City to quickly install safe infrastructure so that we might avoid serious injury or death at the hands of an inattentive or aggressive driver.

How many more people will die or be injured needlessly before our City installs safe bicycle infrastructure for the thousands of people who want to move around our city on bikes?

Start our own Bus Service?

Stop The Cuts held a press conference yesterday to highlight the SaskParty Government turned down federal money for STC.

In response, the incompetent and callous SaskParty Government said, “[I]f Stop the Cuts is interested in starting its own passenger service, we would encourage them to make the appropriate application to the Highway Traffic Board.”

We had our own service, it was called STC.

There’s a good economic reason why a co-operative or private bus company isn’t going to operate a successful bus service in Saskatchewan. The geography is too vast, and it requires the resources of a government to operate, much how free healthcare cannot be provided by private healthcare offices. To have a higher standard of living, we cannot depend solely on the private sector to deliver services that lose private owners money when they offer equitable service to rural Saskatchewan.

Regina has its own bus service called Regina Transit. However, it’s limited by a bylaw [provincial law instead perhaps?] preventing it from operating beyond 25km of the city limits. It would also need to obtain STC coach buses to operate a successful and profitable service to Saskatoon and Moose Jaw.

From Regina Transit’s Route and Scheduling Analyst:

Regina Transit is a municipal system for use by the residents of Regina. Under the Highway traffic bylaw we are not allowed to travel outside the city limits more than 25 KM. Our buses also aren’t geared for highway travel but rather geared for lower city speeds.

Transportation Master Plan Back At Council

I’ve been waiting a lot of years for Regina to have a plan that includes more bicycle infrastructure. Now you have the opportunity to improve the safety and convenience of Regina for people moving around it.
Two years ago, Councillor Young was quoted in the Leader-Post about the Transportation Master Plan (TMP):

“We’re hoping we get to talk about it early in 2016 and then we’ll bring it forward for the 2017 budget,” said Coun. Barbara Young, who chairs the public works committee.

She also said the reason for the delay is the expansiveness of the TMP.

“We need time to take it apart and ask how it was done, what was the methodology and who have you consulted with?” Young added. “We aren’t ready to take it public. We need more information.”

A majority of Council was not here in 2011. I was, as a member of the public and as the President of a corporate stakeholder, actively involved in Design Regina and then TMP planning meetings. I hope you’ll consider my insight into the plan.

We each have our own vision for what Regina can be. Some want smarter cars, others want safe cycling infrastructure, some great Transit, and others are pleased with how things are now and want nothing to change. That last option is the worst, and must not be permitted by this Council if Regina is to be successful at growing. I often hear members of Council expressing their desire to see Regina grow, yet the voting tends toward policies that keep the status quo. Regina now favours automobile traffic over active, healthy, happy people. 8 out of 10 people in Regina go to work in a private car. Regina cannot grow as laid out in the Official Community Plan, if 8 out of 10 people use cars as their primary mode of transportation.

Young people want to move to Regina, or stay here, if their quality of life will be better than it is in Toronto, Winnipeg, Saskatoon, or Assiniboia. If we offer them traffic jams, parking tickets, no commuter cycling infrastructure, and mediocre bus service, will they choose ‘here’, over ‘there’? Regina is presently poised to miss the boat. The TMP moves us toward catching it before it sails.

Here’s a short list of problems I think the TMP might help fix in the near future:

-Parking-minimums

-soaring bus fares

-the loss of regular bus service to Saskatoon and most Saskatchewan cities

-no bicycle infrastructure installed during sidewalk and road repaving happening today on Broad St. and elsewhere.

-lacking evening and weekend Express bus routes.

Support the TMP and with it, the review of antiquated bylaws intended for an outdated and now harmful reality of a bygone century.

Support Our Crown Corporations

For City Council on Monday:

Your Worship,

I’m here to speak in support of Saskatchewan’s Crown Corporations. I’m originally from a small town that would not have had electrical grid service, nor widespread telephone service when it did if not for the creation of Crown corporations. SaskPower, SGI, STC, and SaskTel are among the very best service providers in Canada to this day, often offering rates far below their national competitors’ rates.

While I was on the advisory board for SaskTel’s Community Net high speed Internet service to schools and libraries, we led the world in broadband access across our vast province. Crowns are capable of delivering world-leading services, and ultimately that’s what City government is here for, not to make a profit, but to deliver needed services that individuals are not well suited to provide in a competitive economy.

It’s still possible for Regina, Saskatoon, and other municipalities to save STC by taking it over, since we run Transportation services with larger budgets than the “loss” STC incurs each year to offer transportation service to Regina and the rest of the province. If we focus on routes admittedly “profitable” by the Provincial government, we can maintain service levels to some destinations, and add a revenue stream for the City of Regina. Try to find another delegation that offers a revenue stream that fits with one of the City’s core-services already in existence.

Other parts of Canada have inter-regional transportation services, like Go Transit, and Via Rail. The Provincial Government has failed in its duty to provide multi-modal transportation options to its citizens and visitors, so the City should make its best effort to fill in that gap as it does with ParaTransit service. I must bring up the Province is paying for shuttle buses to the city’s hospitals to reduce parking problems, rather than fund Regina Transit sufficiently to operate shuttles that are available for patients and regular Transit users as well. There are smarter ways of delivering Transit services, but standing by and letting STC be scrapped is not one of those smart choices.

Speaking of smart choices regarding Transit, I’d like to see fares for children be reduced to $0. This would encourage families to use the bus over private automobile choices.