Saskatoon Shiners #exploresk

Saskatoon is a beautiful city, so don’t let these photos fool you. Every city has a few shiners here and there. “There”, in this case, is downtown.
Holiday Inn Supermax Prison
This is the Holiday Inn Supermax Prison. Don’t worry, it only looks like a prison from the outside. You can leave, unlike the more picturesque Hotel California.

Here’s one of the more beautiful parkades with a cell phone tower behind it.

It’s January, and the snow has retreated into puddles due to the unseasonal temperatures, but the gang activity hasn’t retreated.

The people of Saskatoon are friendly, and will accommodate you whether you’re addicted to tobacco or real estate.

The Sturdy Stone isn’t going to see you, so you should go see it.

The HMCS Unicorn will be grinning at you when you walk by.

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Drivers from Hill

MPs should not be driving, they should be walking, biking, or taking the OC Transpo.

Transportation: Where to go, and how to get there in #YQR

Most of my speech as heard in the video above, and posted to my Regina politics blog:

I’m very pleased to have been asked to speak at Campion College about transportation issues. I got my Computer Science – co-op degree from here a decade ago, and I never imagined at the time that I’d wind up the President of a different sort of “co-op”, the Regina Car Share Co-operative. At the time, I had no idea that “car sharing” was even a thing. I’d heard of car pooling of course, but they are different. It wasn’t until I returned to work at the UofR, that I got an email about a group of people holding a pot luck supper in Regina to discuss forming a “car share”, and I thought that sounded like maybe a good way to use a car without the unpleasantries of maintaining one. A few years later, I was chosen to help guide a remarkable group of volunteers who make organized car sharing possible in our city, as it is in almost every other major Canadian and American city today.

Why am I interested in transportation? Well, I’m interested in nearly everything, but where curiosity meets reality is on the streets. Nearly everyone in the world has a daily need to move about the farm, town, or city they live at, and so modes of transportation are essential to how and where we live. If transportation isn’t timely or fun, people don’t enjoy where they live as much as they should. I don’t think car repair is fun, and feel dealing with SGI is about the worst thing that could administratively happen to someone (short of being charged with a crime). So I’ve set out to make transportation both timely and fun for myself, and it just so happens that I need to make it that way for the people around me too, in order to be successful.

Another big reason I’m interested in transportation improvement, is that it’s a major contributor to air pollution and climate change. These are not small, or easy problems to solve, but our little daily actions collectively point our society in either the right or wrong direction. Right now, Regina is unquestionably pointed in the wrong direction, and among our collective actions pointing us there is how we get around every day. Since public talks are always more fun with interaction (I think so anyway, because otherwise I tend to get sleepy especially if the speaker has a mono-tone voice like mine,): How many people got to University today by themselves in a motor vehicle? How many car pooled? How many took the bus? How many biked or walked?
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Not A Lot

Not much to say tonight, except it was a busy and fulfilling weekend, with lots of community gathering, and plenty of optimism for the Spring, gardens, cycling, busing, and all sorts of improvements ahead.

How very much I look forward to being able to catch buses more easily on Sundays, or just skip them by being able to comfortably cycle to my destinations instead. Spring can’t come soon enough, but I’ll wait; The downside to wishing for time to fly by, is lamenting later on that the years passed by too quickly.

Regina Transit Petition

Regina Transit is planning to rearrange existing service to provide a few efficiencies. I see that more investment is needed to make significant improvements that transit riders have been requesting for well over a decade already. As Regina is growing, we’re reaching the limit our streets and parking lots can take, and it’s showing up in the frustrating rush hours that Reginans were not subjected to until a few years ago. Both drivers and transit riders alike stand to benefit greatly from additional money spent on adding buses to the fleet. It’s one of those all-win scenarios that City Council can leap upon and raise the city esteem.

Please get the petition, print it, sign it, and get your voting age friends and family in Regina to sign it too.

Looper Movie

I rode the bus, ended up at another mall, decided on a movie, found out it was Tuesday and only $2. Win!
“Looper” [8/10] bent my brain a little, but wasn’t a time travelling classic I fear. It was trying to be complex, and although I didn’t predict the ending, I probably could have. It still had enough surprises to be worth watching though. If you don’t mind a gory action pic with time travel, check out Looper.

After the movie the next bus home was going to take about 20 minutes to leave the mall. I walked, and think I beat it home, which was about 2km away in semi-cleared sidewalks. The PDog is looking at transit. If you’d like to fix transit in 2013 with me, let me know.

Design Regina – Adapt Early

Our competitive advantage is that we’ve not yet adapted to large urban growth, but we have that opportunity now. Or we can be “a mid-size city with big city problems.”
Traffic congestion is about to explode in Regina. We are only 11km from top to bottom, or west to east. Sprawl will make commute times worse. We’ll get Calgary’s problems.

Portland is a better example of what to do. Infill, transit, pedestrianism and cycling. Stretch out sidewalk, and narrow the roads.

Plan for cars- you get car oriented streets, signs, buildings, city, greater distances, so you then NEED a car! Cycle.

Plan for PEOPLE! People streets, buildings, city, shorter distance, less infrastructure.

16% in SK spent on transportation of total household expenditure (2008 StatsCan)

People value going home for supper with their kids. Some go home for lunch, and that will be lost in a bigger city that is not mixed use in its neighborhoods.
Check out neighborhood amenities if you buy real estate. Walkable neighborhoods are worth more in a world with increasing gas prices.

Zoned Out by Jonathan Levine.

Jennifer Keesmat continues with her presentation. She urges those with different political views to look at this mound of evidence.
The market is producing what regulations in planning allows for. Regulations have to change to get a better product to market. The market is not demanding badly planned homes and cities, but that’s what is available to consumers.

Our nice wide streets lets us infill with Urban Repair. Complete streets.
Plan for nearness.
Living within your means
Quality of life

Have a high level of transit service on Albert St. and Broad St. to provide fast service that is in demand.

Affordable housing. Integrate with other housing. Immigration.
Chris Szarka, City Councilor:
Mixed use isn’t here, and makes for empty buses at many times of the day. It makes an infrastructure deficit. Minus forty isn’t walkable he says, it builds a mentality of commuting in a car. No nightlife in downtown, how do we change that?

Dr. Thomas Chase: how can we build on vision of the founders of the city?
Campus sustainability is in the Master Plan for the UofR.

Honourable Dr. Lynda Haverstock, Tourism Sask:
Thrilled to be here, Jennifer is preaching to the converted in this room. For generations we’ve taken for granted the wonders around us. Some are in ill repair now.
Older generations gave more than we have so far.
Taxation is unpopular, but why are we complaining? Spend money creatively, for the greater, long term good.
Weeds theme song, little boxes, and Paved Paradise came to her mind when looking at suburbia photos during presentation. Yes, the former Liutentant Governor watches TV about pot dealing Nancy.

Dustin Browne, Youth Peer Homes: even if it’s minus forty, poor youth still need to get around and walk or take transit. They have bus passes.
It’s not safe to get by bike from North Central to downtown though, the bike paths don’t work for that. Can’t even dream about buying a house right now as a poor young person. Affordable single person dwellings downtown, is impossible right now. Have to focus on aboriginal youth, or our planning is dead in the water. Take it into account in everything Design Regina does.

Jennifer says you can extend the walkable season by building better, and thinking in a different way. Don’t orient on the automobile.
Small group in Portland thirty years ago stopped an expressway, and got bike lanes and bike to work weeks.
Plan differently, or become intentional about change.

No geographical barriers to stop sprawl.

Transit, how can we link Albert St. and Broad St., and could we make another downtown neighbourhood, mixed use, and build up

Value is infrastructure multiplied by time. Infrastrcture is most efficient if it is used all the time, by lots of people.
Stupid to build out, and go to Feds for money, after causing a problem.

Urban farming, mixed use. Unfortunately Mike O’Donnell has staked his position on the opposite of this.

Curt wants sidewalks fixed and cleared for year round use. Encourage kids to walk.

Motorbikes are a dense form of transportation, we need more. Vietnam has millions of motorbikes.

Mike, from here, but lived in Victoria, young person, moved back here, misses Victoria only for not needing a car.

Urban planner, here for 120 days. Walks to work downtown. Not so vibrant at 8pm.
20,000 downtown office workers.
8 to 80, planning. Downtown plan is called Walk to Work.

Susan Burley, she walks to work from Cathedral. Integrate North Central with other neighborhoods. It should cost less to turn parking lots into housing or useful spaces downtown. Knows the public warm spots.
Put transit near warm public spaces. The main library is one. YMCA is another. Victoria Park, don’t cut down trees.

Parking at UofR

In 15 minutes, at 1:30, be at the Ad Hum Pit to hear concerns and solutions to the limited parking available at the UofR.

Many people are displeased by the amount of parking sold at the main campus. People who must drive, and those who want to drive, are saying they can’t easily find a spot they pay for. The UofR is building more parking lots, but they won’t be ready for months. There’s a solution available that could be working by next month, if not Monday.

I have a quick fix available for each sort of commuter.
People who must drive:
Parking at Conexus.
Add a shuttle.

Cycling: paint lines on Uni Drive
Add more bike locks, and showers.
Transit: don’t defeat a Upass.
Offer the Regina Car Share Co-op free parking, or even a free car.

Car pooling mentioned by Paige, VP External.
Jen at RPIRG next regarding parkade.
Vianne suggests UofR would subsidize a Upass.
Kent suggests focus on carpooling staff over students.

Students and staff and faculty have cars and no where to put them, and the Centre of the Arts has lots of empty lots and no cars most weekday business hours.
It’s the same walking distance from the southern Conexus Arts Centre parking lot to the Classroom building, as it is from Hillsdale St. to the Education Building. And it’s that same distance from First Nations University of Canada, to the middle of Lot 15, to give you an idea of the scale.

And at

Design Regina – Ken Greenberg – live blog

Introductions underway at the first Design Regina presentation series at the UofR Education Auditorium.

Video streaming by Ustream
(Watch for my voice at 1hour 35 minutes.)

Fred Clipsham gives a greeting on behalf of Mayor Fiacco.
Tonight is Participatory Democracy.

7:22 the current Regina plan was designed 25 years ago. Demographics have changed, and so have technology and desires of the population.
Infrastructure isn’t all in good repair, and some needs replacing.

Ken Greenberg says we’re undergoing our third transformation in Regina.
In the 30s, the Interstate highway system “seemed like a good idea at the time”.
An interesting cartoon from the late ’50s depict how cities could be in the future.

Showtime magic highway USA 1958 by Disney.
They didn’t foresee expensive energy, or traffic jams. They didn’t see the impact of roads, that they always fill up.
They didn’t see the effect on children’s health, making kids obese from lack of activity.

Mentions Jane Jacobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities.

How are convenience and value perceived?

Buying real estate downtown instead of where you have to commute is a better investment. Commute time predicts value drop of suburb property.

Bike share, car share, pay with mobile devices, Asian Octopus.

Next fifty years is our time to retrofit the suburban infrastructure we’ve inherited.

Sustainability is a way of synthesizing and connecting.
Find higher levels of mix and overlap in new projects.
Shopping on main level, business above, and residences above that.

We’re colonizing parking lots in the next phase.
We have no better options. We need to create a new political space that reflects how we actually live in cities.

St. Paul, MN lost its beautiful waterfront to commerce, shipping containers. In the mid 1990s Ken was asked to create a plan to transform it to be more picturesque.

Re-evaluate, and set the bar higher again.

Stockholm example given next. Northern climate examples are important for here.
Suction garbage removal, underground!
Removed industrial squatters.
Citizens involved in planning, and they aren’t sustainability geeks, they’re just average people caught up in the excitement of renewing their living environment.

So, how can Regina capitalize on the growth? Grow into parking lots, or grow outward and disconnect people through distance?

He bluntly says we can improve our transit system, through high investment, and a better layout than Calgary undertook. He says to make a serious move to car sharing too (YAY!) Regina Car Share Co-operative agrees.

A panel now speaks:
Nelson Bird: interesting and enlightening video, like the Jetsons. Regina downtown after five pm is desolate, but Saskatoon isn’t at night.

Mo Bundon:
Right on Ken! Regina punches above it’s weight. 25000 people in downtown living there? Political cycles don’t line up with the longterm view. How does the stadium fit into this? Opportunity costs lost, stadium vs. Theatres, development, and smaller facility for same money spent.

Pat Dell:
Hard for young people to buy homes. Warehouse district is turning into condos and bar street.

Mike O’Donnell: kids affect him. Wants a safe place for kids, like depicted in Stockholm photo in presentation.
Multicultural Regina he is proud of it. Embracing Winter is key to success.

I got the first question, after Ken said a in city large, single use stadium wouldn’t deliver all it promises.
I asked what the City could do to make it easier for car sharing to be adopted. Ken said it’s possible to integrate bike, car, and transit sharing into one payment method, and for developers to get benefits from including car sharing in their designs. (The new R-Card could be for bikes and shared cars too, with mobile devices telling people where they can find each source of transportation near where they are standing. The technology is here, it only needs the people of Regina to implement this system by next year.)

Next question was a concern about library downtown being sold into private development, with loss of architectural heritage.

Next guy wants to build parking underground in more cases. Ken noted the cars in his photos were underground, with a city parking layer on top, then street level shopping, then business/commercial, then residences on top. This creates a bustling street-front all day and night.

Next comments on housing affordability. And building strategy.
Ken asks what constitutes the most efficient use of resources. Some infrastructure we use for only one thing for only part of the day, it’s not efficient. Use downtown at night as well. This is why the current downtown is not efficient, it dies down completely at night, losing the opportunity to use the infrastructure more completely in one area and having to build separate infrastructure elsewhere to serve the people that commute daily.

The shared cars should be used night and day as well, business in the day, and families and youth at night for recreation and resource acquisition (ie. shopping).

The sprawled infrastructure is hard to maintain.

The end?
There are two more presentations like this, I encourage you to go!
Afterward I had stimulating conversations with many city employees, some of whom were happy to be talking to a transportation guru like me. I like walking, cycling, and car sharing, and I’ve used the bus, and drive at times. I’m flexible in how I get around, and know a lot about transportation systems, so I can teach a lot. I can also learn a lot more, and it’s thrilling to have the ear of others in employed roles that could make some of my vision for Regina become a reality.

The Excitement of Parking

Not much is more thrilling than finding a parking spot. The only thing that is better is not having to look for one at all.

I’m looking forward to the UofR’s parking forum next Friday in the Pit.

There are many options available to those who must drive and the vast majority who can get to the UofR by other means. There’s walking, jogging, boarding, skating, canoe [campus is right beside Wascana Lake], carpooling, car sharing, cycling, motorbike, and pogo stick as options. If you insist on owning a car or using your parents’, you can park at the Centre of the Arts and walk 10 minutes to campus – FOR FREE. Ask for a loonie shuttle bus to and from SIAST and the Centre of the Arts, if the numbers 3 and 4 bus don’t cut it for you (and they probably don’t, because they run too infrequently to be handy).

Low-tech bike rentals, the U-pass failure, and higher fines haven’t cooled the anger around transportation to and from campus. If the University supports car sharing, is it going to get the same cool reception from students? I think it would be a hit, but so far there are few student and faculty members in the Regina Car Share Co-operative and no student organizations have yet joined. Word is getting out though, and it’s one of many obvious solutions to parking woes at the UofR and around the city.