First of all, everyone come to the Open House on Thursday night, 7pm at the Centre of the Arts. There may be elected officials to discuss your Design Regina thoughts with.
It’s been two days of Design Regina, the Ideas Fair on Tuesday and Wednesday’s Public Forum. So far, I’ve found the process frustrating. I am having a hard time pinning down that frustration.
This frustration certainly is not from the City. The consultation process has some bumps but it’s no easy task, it is never going to be perfect. I think it is my issue: something about large crowds, an early morning (for me) perhaps some preparation issues and/or unreasonable expectations.
On Tuesday, we had the Idea Fair. For a good summary of what it was like, see Paul Dechene in the Prairie Dog Blog.
I found the evening a little bewildering. I was hosting a table and felt I should focus on doing that. But, that meant I wasn’t really wandering around to other tables and meeting new people.
After about half an hour, the speeches began and then there was a third thing to balance. I couldn’t hear the speeches from my table, yet, again, I didn’t want to leave the table. My personality in these sort of forums is to find a quiet corner and hide, that’s never really going to be compatible/appropriate for this type of event. I think I told Paul afterwords I could use a lonely walk in a forest after 3 hours of ‘networking.’ I realized soon after I would prefer a night-time stroll along Cuba St. or Rue St. Laurent. The forest is dangerous and spooky.
After my speech, I really began to feel frustrated. Again, I’m not sure why exactly. There were many contributing elements, like the lack of political representation (only Councillor O’Donnell and one Green Party Candidate). I got some sense of finality too. I had a feeling this was our chance to speak and connect and before I knew it, the night was done.
An example of the in-perfection there weren’t even any bike racks at the Centre of the Arts, (do to recent construction) leaving people to lock to light posts.
Wednesday didn’t start well either. For one thing, it was morning (my oldest enemy). The morning talk went alright but as the facilitators tried to reorganize the event, there was some confusion. The participants split off into ‘Pods,’ manageable groups of seven or eight. We had to choose our ‘Pods’ through some sort of index card placing process, which I didn’t really understand. In the end, it didn’t seem to matter what you wrote on the card or what group you found. I guess the idea was to find a table with index cards that had interesting topic points on them.
I basically went looking for the least complementary group of people I could find. I was owly, looking for people to confront, looking for the people who are going to knock over the Crescent Apts. and Gordon Block. There was one group I thought had potential, eight or so similar men sitting quietly. I really wanted to join but I figured they needed women in their group.
The group I picked was really great and agreeable, which initially made me feel redundant: they already had all my ‘great’ ideas in their own awesome heads.
Bottom line: I wasn’t at my best. Closer to my worst.
I needed a break after lunch so I left and sat outside for a while.
Inside, there were a series of interactive panels during lunch hour where participants would place dots or stickies to maps with questions like, “What neighbourhood do you live in?”
The results of those panels was fairly interesting. It revealed, for example, that almost no one there lived North of Dewdney, West of Albert. Most lived in wealthy neighbourhoods to the South (me) and East or from the active communities in central neighbourhoods.
Another map showed how shopping habits were almost exclusively around major arterials and hubs (Downtown, Malls and Box Farms) with a vast, dot-less, residential use.
I was less cranky after lunch and the ‘Pod’ continued on in the process.
During our discussion, we ambushed a heritage planner, who was listening in to our group, to speak about the Gordon Block process. From what they said, if the application goes through (recall the application is not yet complete, destroying the Gordon Block may not happen) there will be 3 opportunities for public input: Heritage Advisory Committee, Regina Planning Committee and City Council.
In the end there was a lot of commonality from different groups. The issues that came up time and again were affordability, financing, effective transportation options, arts and culture, complete communities and waste management/environmental stewardship.
Hope to see this reflected in today’s sessions.