The final day for Jane’s Walks 2011 featured five walks, two around Wascana creek, two in central neighbourhoods and one in South Regina. Just as on Saturday, the weather was sunny and warm, perfect for a walk. Continue after the break to hear about the walks.
Liberty Walton lead the first walk of the day Downtown from City hall, down Victoria Avenue to Scarth street. The theme of walk was walkability downtown. The group started in the civic centre of City hall, Taxation Building and Court House. Moving East we made our way down Victoria Avenue, looking at the street, its width and history as main artery through Regina. Liberty pointed out the importance of monumental buildings, like churches and prestigious residences/hotels, in this corridor.
We arrived at Scarth Street and the discussion moved to the future development of Regina. Some subjects discussed concerned sidewalk improvements, alley use and safety, protecting the heritage of Victoria Park and improving signage along F.W. Hill Mall.
The middle part of the day was concentrated around the Wascana area.
The first of two walks along Wascana Creek lead by Jim Elliott started from the Leg at 10am. Jim talked about the evolution of the Western part of Wascana lake. The walk spoke to human design to facilitate habitat spaces for animals including nesting houses for Wood Ducks, the ‘wild’ state of Spruce Island and deep areas for fish to over winter in. The animal amenities are along side Totem Poles, outlooks and Pine Island designed with water-sports officials in mind.
Jim’s second walk was along the course of Wascana Creek West of Albert Street along the dike that has been built up to protect homes from flooding. An important element to securing the earthwork is to have a mix of vegetation to anchor the soil at different depths. We looked at one large Willow tree near the Cameron Street foot bridge that could be a problem to the integrity of the dike if it were removed. The Dike also acts as a recreational amenity with access ramps and stairs for a variety of people and uses.
In between Jim’s two walks, Hilary Craig led an exploration of South Regina institutions on her walk; Body, Soul and Spirit. These were all places Hilary had experienced working in the former Campion College on 23rd Avenue. The walk began at the T.C. Douglas building home to Government offices, a cafeteria and the Mackenzie Art Gallery.
Hilary emphasized how great this space is to eat a lunch in or wander through. Her granddaughter, for one, is particularly interested in the statues and the view from the glass-wall elevators.
Two special guests joined our walk, Hank and Sister Mary Martin, who spent many years teaching at Campion and Sacred heart College and Marian High School. They had many stories about what that area was like before the city had expanded their and from the years they spent teaching. Our conversation took place in a gazebo in the Marian Chateau apartments, built near the site of Marian School.
Heading back North, the group looked at former Campion College on 23rd Avenue. Highlighting the visible development of different sections over time by changing brick colours.
The last stop was Wascana Rehabilitation Centre and its open main floor and second floor cafeteria and balcony. An important new development at the Wascana was their new accessible playground for all children. It’s a great story, I recommend you read about it here and here.
The last walk of the day was a massively attended wander through Cathedral neighbourhood with Leslie Hindle and Bob Bjerke. The focus of their walk was on the success story of Cathedral transitioning from one of the least desirable neighbourhoods 30-40 years ago to one of the most desirable today. The pair pointed to the importance of a federal government Neighbourhood Improvement Program (N.I.P.) that began in the 1970s in response to the desertion of core areas for developing suburbs. The tour came across various public housing projects that all looked to either maintain or increase density while maintaining an appropriate building mass respective to nearby buildings.
Another important aspect of the N.I.P. story was the flexibility of the program, requiring a great deal of neighbourhood imput and consultation, by encouraging the creation of community associations.
Unfortunately, N.I.P. was not long-lived and Cathedral was the only neighbourhood that received funding. The neighbourhood’s current success compared with other neighbourhoods which were going to but never received funds, like North Central, Eastview and Heritage, highlights how early intervention in declining neighbourhoods can build a positive foundation going forward.