The bullet point of yesterday’s post was that the recent quieter state here on the blog may be the norm for awhile. The good news is that you can still stay up to date with current urban issues and happenings in Regina. The Prairie Dog does great coverage of planning and development issues in the city of which there is no shortage right now.
It’s an exciting time with lots of new opportunities to strengthen our downtown and core coming forward. But I’d like to put forward that it’s important we as a city never get so panic’d and worried that something won’t happen, that we fail to take the time to do things right. Instead, we as citizens and as a city need to demand that we put in place smart planning and design standards to guide development now and into the future. It’s important for citizens to stay involved in local issues and processes. The things we build today will be with us for years to come and we cannot simply accept second best in the spirit of “git’er done”. I think everyone should be involved in the way our city develops and that it is our responsibility to make sure that Regina is a city for and by its citizens. Here’s my short-list of local issues that people should stay informed of this summer and take the time to become involved in:
1) The Official Community Plan: This is a big one. The Official Community Plan will guide the way our city develops over the next 25 years. I strongly urge everyone who wants to see Regina become a more well-planned, well-designed, well-connected city to attend the Official Community Plan consultations and make your voice heard. Advocate for mixed-use, mixed-income, and mixed-density planning and development as they are key to creating a dynamic and sustainable city that attracts and retains young, talented people. Voice the need to focus on improving our overall connectivity both within neighbourhoods and between neighbourhoods. Make the need for affordable rental housing heard. Show that planning for smart infill, maturing neighbourhoods, and minimizing sprawl are important for the future of our city. Form a Citizen Circle, go talk to City representatives at upcoming events, attend consultations to share your ideas, and fill out the online feedback forms.
2) Developments on the CP Railyards: The Prairie Dog has been staying on top of this one – which is a development that is just starting to heat up. I think there is a lot of potential for the redevelopment of this area of our city, but it will take a strong vision from citizens and smart planners, not just private investment, to make sure it is done right. There is a big push right now for this project to make progress and fast. The timeline for creating a development plan is short and there is a large emphasis on private development involvement as it progresses. I personally think this development should be informed by the outcome of the Official Community Plan (which is only starting now), not side-step it in the interest of time. As many people have said, this is more than an ‘entertainment facility’ and we need to make sure that neighbourhood is not lost to vast parking lots. This will be an important topic to stay on top of and for citizens to be involved in to ensure the planning and design of this space is done well – we’ll be stuck with whatever is created for decades so we should demand more from this space and the newly formed corporate office charged with leading its development.
3) Issues surrounding a new/renovated central library: After the release (and subsequent removal) of unofficial designs for the RPL Central branch last month this topic has been on people’s minds. As it should be. The RPL has been mum about its ongoing plans to revitalize/renovate/build a new central branch for well over a year now. They say they aren’t at the design stage just yet but I don’t blame people for raising one eyebrow or proceeding with caution. I remember early discussions saying that the process was going to be very transparent but thus far hasn’t really lived up to that. The website has no new press releases or information since April 2009. It’s important for people to stick with this one. The Prairie Dog will no doubt continue their coverage, but I also encourage people to ask around. Call the RPL to ask for updates and inquire when the next round of community consultations will be.