Friday Feature: Shop your ward

Last week, Shawn Fraser, Executive Director of Carmichael Outreach announced that he would be running for the Ward 3 seat on Regina’s City Council this fall. To kick off his campaign, Shawn issued a shop local challenge to himself and his family – they have committed to only shopping at businesses in Ward 3 for the next month. He also invited all Ward 3 residents to join him. So, this week our Friday Feature is Shop Your Ward!

Political campaigns aside, I think this initiative is great. When citizens support local businesses it builds an understanding of and a commitment to the place they live, it provides opportunities for neighbours to meet and share information, and it helps to promote the development of mixed-use, complete communities (something citizens have said they want to see more of during the Design Regina process).

I think it would be great to see people doing this all over the city! By shopping in your ward (both at small local shops and at chain stores), you are supporting a service in your community instead of pushing it to go elsewhere. Keeping businesses and amenities in neighbourhoods helps to encourage new patterns of development and may even encourage other small businesses to take root.

So to start off this lovely May weekend, I’d like to extend Shawn’s challenge to all citizens of Regina. Take the next month and try to shop exclusively in your ward. Visit your old standby shops (your local corner stores and coffee hangouts), but also take the time to dig deeper and find new or lesser-known shops as well. It might even help you to identify what services are missing in your local community that you can advocate for!

We here at RUE want to know what you find! Perhaps we can start a google map of local shops for citizens to share!

I too will be taking up the challenge from my temporary home here in Toronto. I just looked up my local ward and will be doing my best to shop within it – I’ll need to do some research to find the more affordable shops in the area… though I suppose there is always Honest Ed’s! ;)

Have a great weekend!

** mouse over images for credit info.

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Friday Feature: Shop your ward

11 thoughts on “Friday Feature: Shop your ward

  1. Barb saylor says:

    “Shop your ward” might be to the disadvantage of the Farmers Market downtown. Candidates should put some thought into their little causes.

    1. I don’t really understand your statement Barb – please elaborate. I think the sentiment and goal of supporting small, local businesses perfectly fits with going to the Farmers’ Market… and I think that one could argue for going outside official ward boundaries for this event – it’s something that builds community and civic cohesion at the city level.

  2. Barb saylor says:

    Lots of people from outside Cathedral come to the Farmers Market. Your use of the word “exclusively” in the above post would seem to discourage them from doing so. Either you have a firm position or you don’t.

    1. Hi Barb – I was more curious about your comment about candidates and their “little causes”. As for Shawn’s challenge to Ward 3 residents, the issue of patronage at the Farmers’ Market isn’t really an issue as it is within Ward 3. Maybe his challenge would even encourage more Ward 3 residents to go to the Farmers’ Market.

      As for my extension of the challenge to all Regina residents, I think the more important word to emphasize is “try” to exclusively shop in your ward. I don’t see my post as taking a hardline stance and I don’t really like absolutes. I obviously won’t judge anyone who wants to shop outside their ward… I want to have a fun conversation about what is available to people within their more immediate neighbourhoods and, maybe more importantly, what should be available. Do people shop elsewhere because they can’t get things they want/need, because they don’t know what is available, or they just feel like it?

      Further, I see the downtown, though it technically exists within ward 3, as a city-wide space that is outside of ward-specific politics. Issues or events in the downtown are city issues/events, not simply ward issues/events. I think the Farmers’ Market (and other city-wide events) should be widely supported by all residents and that these events should be encouraged elsewhere.

  3. Barb saylor says:

    Oddly enough, although a non-Cathedral dweller, I do know what Ward 3’s boundaries are! In regard to “little causes”, I expressed impatience with vote-seeking behaviour masquerading as parochial allegiance and not necessarily well thought through.
    Does Mr. Fraser (or do you) honestly think that a ward constitutes a community? It’s an electoral convenience, no more and no less. Any ward contains numerous communities and neighbourhoods, often nesting or overlapping, and with needs/desires that can’t always be accommodated within 2 blocks of home. Nor should they be: this is a city, not a medieval village (not that all services were available to that entity all the time, either), and we should feel free to access every corner of it. And while candidates live and run in their home area (ideally), they are being elected for the good of the city as a whole, not only their own turf, and they should be stressing their commitment to the city as a whole.

    1. Hey Barb – I hope you know that I am really just curious about your point of view, and I’m not trying to attack it. It really doesn’t surprise me that you (and many of our readers) know the ward boundaries, but for those who may not, I wanted to clarify that.

      I agree that candidates need to think bigger than their own ward – they sit on committees about broader issues (planning, heritage, etc), and make decisions that impact all residents, not just those in their ward. However, councilors are often asked to speak to issues within their ward and when a contentious issue or project in a particular ward comes to the forefront, the councilor is often asked (and expected by their constituents) to comment or take action. So, in that respect, I don’t think it is a bad idea for councilors to be active in their ward and be an advocate for it. Considering that the municipal elections are still a few months away, I imagine (and hope) that all candidates will be detailing their positions on larger city issues in the near future.

      As far as whether I think a ward constitutes a community. I, like you, don’t think it is nearly that cut and dry. Community can be determined in many different ways – sometimes it is a physical area, the size and extent of which is often determined on an individual basis (i.e. what I consider my community to be physically may be very different than my neighbour). Community can also be more social in nature (e.g. your social group or volunteering circle) as opposed to the area in which you live.

      I also don’t necessarily think that every (physical) neighbourhood has to be everything to all people within it – we don’t need a new grocery store every 3 blocks. That said, I do still think there is value in an exercise like looking at what is closely accessible to you (i.e. by trying to shop locally, walking your neighbourhood to see what services you have access to, etc.). It may not lead a person to want a service within immediate walking distance of their house, but it may bring light to other issues. It may highlight the need for better transit service to access a service like the Farmers’ Market downtown, or their favourite gym, or really any service that they enjoy. Often, constituents ask their councilors to advocate or ask questions about these types of issues (more frequent transit service, prioritizing the repair of certain sidewalks, the need for access to healthy food in a food desert…).

      Again, with issues like complete communities and better accessibility coming to the forefront as priorities to be reflected in the new Official Community Plan, I think these are important questions to ask and explore. I think it is important for residents to get to know their community, physically and socially, so that they can have a more open discussion about what they want/need it to be and can ask their leaders (their ward councilor as well as the City council as a whole) to help them get there.

  4. Barb saylor says:

    Understood, Laura. I did want to point out, though, that the old model of electioneering, and even of representative government itself, will need to change with advances in communication and in the accessibility of information and services to the ordinary citizen. While it’s good to keep your councillor, or the councillor(s) on a given city committee, in the loop when you have a problem, your first call/email should be to the pertinent city department. Use the City webpage: your tax dollars put it in place. That way, you can learn what the city’s priorities are in, say, repairing sidewalks, so that you can make a better case for your request. Just calling up the Mayor or your councillor right off the top is a waste of your time and theirs; you can lay the groundwork for your issue yourself, gather others of like mind through social media, inform your councillor, and go for it. That is new-style politics. The trouble with Mr. Fraser’s campaign is that it smacks of old-style politics: it implies that the candidate is the only go-to person (which [s]he’s not); that [s]he’ll always put you first (which [s]he can’t); and that [s]he’ll always do just what you want (which [s]he won’t). Old-style politics leads to cynicism and disillusion, and doesn’t inspire ordinary citizens to act for themselves. And that’s my rant for today.

    1. I couldn’t agree more, Barb – it is so important for citizens to be proactive and contact city departments directly as well as discuss larger conceptual issues with councillors. And, actually, citizens can often deal with many local issues themselves without having to go through city departments at all.

      I didn’t quite get the same vibe from Mr. Fraser’s campaign, so I am glad to hear your take. I want to be clear that everything I’ve written is really just my opinion (e.g. that councillors are often petitioned by their constituents to advocate for their ward, etc). I didn’t get the impression that Mr. Fraser was making an old-style politics statement about councillors being your sole connection to the city or that they will do what you want. I saw it as a fun way to kick-off a campaign by getting people out in their communities, getting to know each other and having a conversation. I may be a bit too optimistic when it comes to this stuff, but I felt the idea was presented with a lot of open positivity. Again, the larger campaign will tell how all candidates position themselves with respect to larger city issues which, in the end, is more important anyway.

      Thanks again for your thoughts, Barb.

  5. Jeannie Mah says:

    On another note…. Laura, I just wanted to mention Wychwood Barns… which still may be a bit far from you, if you are near Honest Ed’s, but I was super impressed with the Ontario artesanal cheeses! But perhaps you are near the pasteis de natas + portuguese buns?! and the Korean place with the little conveyer belt which makes walnut pastries? Am now in Montreal enjoying intelligent bike lanes that work! Even the least hilly routes have been established to get to the Plateau, tricky corners are well thought-out and well-marked, and riding down Maisonneuve in protected bike lanes that go both ways!!? – never in my wildest dreams would I have thought to ride on Maisonneuve !!! so! We are tearing around town on BIXI bikes, and have swum at the outdoor pool on Ile Ste Hélène… (sorry to get off topic… , but what a great city Montreal is!) (shop local!! yes!! Jean Talon today!)

    1. Jeannie – great to hear you are enjoying Montreal. The bike lanes and BIXI are often cited in Active Transportation literature as examples to follow/look at. We’re actually a bit south of Ed’s closer to Trinity Bellwoods park with lots of great little shops to peek in the windows. I know of Wynchwood Barns though and hope to make a stop over there soon to check it out – lots of artist studios! I’ll have to keep my eye out for some of these delicacies your talking about here in Toronto – so far I’ve very much enjoyed the fresh Chinese dumplings and steam bean buns!

  6. Wow, quite the dialogue regarding the Shop Locally Campaign. It was interesting to hear other’s take on this, as the responses from everyone I have spoken to has been overwhelmingly positive. I think this campaign embodies the broader themes of Shawn’s platform quite nicely. Further it engages citizens in important conversations and get’s people talking about the candidate. Thanks for the post Laura!

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