Starting 2015 off with… collaboration!

For the past few months, I’ve been quietly working on a few new projects and connecting with great groups in Regina and beyond. Now that we are into 2015, I’m happy to say that these projects are taking shape and I can start talking about them.

The most exciting collaboration is with the folks at Queen City Hub and Regina Advocates for Design. They’re launching a lecture series called Urbanity 101 which will explore topics related to urban planning, design, and citizen engagement. The goal is to provide a space for citizens to improve their understanding of urban issues and planning concepts, ask questions, and engage in a more social dialogue. The specifics of the series are still under development, but more information will be coming soon!

I don’t know about you, but I’m already excited about what 2015 has in store!

Starting 2015 off with… collaboration!

Five Years of RUE

This weekend marks the fifth anniversary of Regina Urban Ecology! (first post here)


As regular readers know, the blog has gotten quieter in the last few years – as a “not-even-non-profit”, every post and every project we’ve undertaken has been because contributors and guest contributors generously gave their time (and for posts in particular, they ALWAYS take longer than you expect). I’ve never held contributors to a schedule or even expectation for posting because if I can’t pay them for their work that’s just not ok. For myself, finding work-life balance has often been a challenge and I’ve had to set some things, including writing regular posts, to the side to make sure I don’t burn out. However, RUE continues to be a great way to connect with people locally and nationally who are working to improve our cities.

It has been so exciting to see the conversation about Regina as a city evolve over the last few years. More citizens are willing and interested to have a productive discussion on how our city is growing and changing and how we can ensure it grows sustainably and equitably. Consultants working on the Design Regina Official Community Plan and Transportation Master Plan have noted that Reginans are actually pretty educated and savvy when it comes to good planning principles. Reginans desire complete communities (with a mix of housing, employment opportunities, and amenities that are convenient and enjoyable to navigate on foot) and complete streets that are safe for all users regardless of their age, ability, or mode of transportation. There is a lot of work still to be done to ensure these goals and principles come to fruition but the support from the community is encouraging and a first important step.

And there are even more great groups in the city advocating for change and bringing such positive and productive conversation to our city. Bike Regina has gained momentum as a positive force in our city advocating for better bike infrastructure to improve safety and support sustainable transportation. Regina Advocates for Design has been provoking great discussion and participation with a film and lecture series, their summer sketch club, and, recently, spearheading Regina’s first Park(ing) day (I had the pleasure of stopping by their installation last weekend while I was in town- see above)! This group is really fantastic and I can’t wait to see what they’ve got next. The Queen City Hub (Regina’s first coworking and skill-sharing space) has also been active promoting discussions about the City with panels and facilitated discussions about housing in the city and the future for arts and culture in the downtown.

All of this is to say that the last five years have been a pleasure and, although RUE continues to shift and change, I can’t wait to see what fun new collaborations and conversations are coming. Many thanks to everyone who’s ever read, shared, and commented on a post, as well as those working to make our city even better.


Five Years of RUE


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Hi all!

I’m here to let you know about a cool project that launched this week to help you inspire change in your neighbourhood. The Montreal Urban Ecology Centre (MUEC), in partnership with the Center for a New American Dream and One Earth, is launching the 2014 Get2gether Neighborhood Challenge – a call to citizens across Canada to transform their city, one block at a time.

MUEC is accepting applications over the next few weeks from citizen groups who want to lead local improvement projects in their communities, and will help teams raise funds to make their project a reality. To do this, MUEC is partnering with IOBY, a platform for citizen-led, neighbour-funded projects.

After evaluating the applications, selected teams will begin the project process in August with targeted training sessions on how to crowd-fund their projects and whatever amount the teams raise through this process will be matched dollar-for-dollar by MUEC up to $2,000 per project. The deadline to apply is July 27, 2014 UPDATE – the deadline has been extended to August 4, 2014.

Regina Urban Ecology is working with MUEC, providing local support and information for groups in Regina who are interested in submitting an application. Have a Regina-specific question (e.g. “Our team wants to improve the pocket park behind the RPL Central Branch – do you know who I might talk to at the RPL to get their support?”)? Feel free to send us an email ( and we’ll do our best to help you out!

For more info about the project and how to apply, visit the project website here!



Summer 2014


Summer in the Queen City is in full swing! In addition to attending festivals, relaxing on patios, and vacationing at the lake this summer, there are also some cool “urban” themed things that you should add to your summer to-do list:

1) Take part in the Regina Advocates for Design Summer Sketch Camp: RAD hosts an informal gathering every other Tuesday for people to brush up on their sketching skills. Bring your own materials and meet the group in front of Regina Central Library downtown. No previous experience required. Remaining sessions take place: July 15, July 29, Aug 12, Aug 26).

2) Participate in the community engagement regarding the Regina Public Library Central Branch: The RPL has launched a new public consultation to discuss the future of the RPL Central Branch – including the physical building and programming needs of the future. Engagement activities will be happening through the summer, including a booth that will be popping up at various events. Right now there is an online survey you can fill out – get on it!

3) Add your voice to cycling advocacy in the city: Bike Regina is looking for a new member on their Board of Directors! The membership of Bike Regina has been growing and they are increasingly a positive force for improving cycling in our city. Applications are open until July 31, 2014.

4) Map your thoughts on the Regina Cycles Map: While we’re talking cycling, Bike Regina and Regina Urban Ecology have an online crowdsourcing initiative to map the good, bad, and ugly about cycling in Regina. As you’re out biking and enjoying the wonderful weather, add your thoughts on improvements to the network, where cyclists can access existing amenities, and potentially dangerous conditions (e.g. collision hotspots).

5) Follow the Traveller’s Building on Twitter: The Traveller’s Building is a designated heritage building in downtown Regina that has been left empty and in disrepair for over a decade. There is so much potential for this building’s future. There’s a new twitter account to show this building the attention and love it deserves – you really should follow it!

Have a great summer!


Summer 2014

Friday Feature: HOTTEA


For this week’s Friday Feature, I wanted to share the work of Minneapolis artist Eric Rieger (HOTTEA). I came across Eric’s work a few weeks ago and it continues to inspire me. Eric uses yarn and other simple materials to create non-destructive street art installations.


What really delights me about Eric’s work is how simple modifications to common built spaces can create a completely different experience.  In pieces like Ritual and Optimism, everyday public spaces (old tennis courts, connector walkways) become visible, colourful, and playful.  It’s a good reminder that small, ephemeral interventions can have a big impact.



In contrast to a lot of street art, Eric’s installations are sculptural and transform how people move through and interact with space. I rarely consider the three dimensional and sculptural opportunities of public space interventions. His work has inspired me to consider so many new possibilities for neglected spaces as I walk around.

Check out more of Eric’s work (including his lovely indoor pieces) on Flickr and in these articles showcasing his installations.

Have a great weekend!


**All photos courtesy of HOT TEA

Friday Feature: HOTTEA

Jane’s Walk 2014


It’s that time of year again – the Jane’s Walk festival is just over 2 months away (Friday May 2 – Sunday May 4). That means it’s time to start dreaming, scheming, and planning the logistics!

This year, Regina is hosting its 6th Annual Jane’s Walk event! Over the last five years we’ve seen a fantastic collection of walks take place all over the city: as far north as Rochdale Boulevard and as far south as the University of Regina. Walks have included those that delve into the city’s history, that explore personal experiences in the neighbourhoods in which we grew up, and that encourage dialogue about important community issues like homelessness. I love connecting with new and returning walk leaders and continue to be inspired (and delightfully surprised) by the walks they create. Needless to say, I’m excited to see what this year will bring! 

photo by L. Pfeifer
Photo from the very first Jane’s Walk in Regina (2009).

If you’re interested in leading a Jane’s Walk or volunteering to help on the days of the walks (taking photos, assisting walk leaders) please get in touch!

You can find more info about Regina’s Jane’s Walks here and connect with us on the Jane’s Walk website.

Jane’s Walk 2014

Street Canyon Ivy

This article is cross-posted from guest contributor Katherine Forster’s blog ‘dandelions and concrete‘.

Here’s a link to a new study that suggests that ivy growing on walls may be better than street trees in cleaning the air in “street canyon” situations.  (Street canyons are roads surrounded by tall buildings, where air tends to linger.)

Here’s more from the website:

“The researchers ran computer simulations to determine how green walls and roofs might affect pollutant concentrations at street level. Adding plants to walls would cut nitrogen dioxide levels by 15 percent and small particulate matter by 23 percent, the authors estimate. In areas with little wind, those numbers could reach 40 and 60 percent. Green roofs didn’t perform as well because they don’t directly affect the air near the street. 

Trees also help clean the air, but they can keep street-level air from mixing with the air above. At low to medium pollutant levels, planting trees will still reduce air pollution, the team predicts. If a city is very polluted, however, trees could actually increase nitrogen dioxide levels near the street.”

Read more here:

Street Canyon Ivy

Design and community

Hey all! I hope the new year is treating you well so far! Just a quick post to let people know about a couple of cool  initiatives to recently get started in Regina  – the Queen City Hub and Regina Advocates for Design. I think that both are going to add a lot of energy and fresh perspective into the discussion about how our city will and should grow in the coming years.

996999_432285983560093_418388265_nI heard about Regina Advocates for Design from a friend, and I have to say I’m pretty excited! RAD is a group of architects, landscape architects, planners, and design professionals  and their mission is “to advocate for the importance of design and innovation in Regina’s built environment”. The group is quite new but they’ve already hosted their first film screening earlier this month (featuring the film Archiculture) as well as a  lecture about the work of Arthur Erickson in early December. It’s great to see an active public discussion about design and architecture in the city!


Queen City Hub

Queen City Hub is a new co-work space in downtown Regina. There are a lot of great co-work spaces in cities across Canada, a number of which we’ve talked about before including the Centre for Social Innovation (Toronto), the HUB (Halifax), and the TwoTwenty (Saskatoon), so I’m very excited to see this starting in our city! In addition to flexible work spaces, they also host community events. This week they hosted Hub Social: Building Cultural Capacity in Regina, examining the role of community organizations, cultural institutions, and citizens in the growth of our city.


It’s great to see more people engaging in these types of initiatives and discussions. I look forward to seeing how both of these initiatives develop this year!

Design and community

Local Insect Hotels

This article is cross-posted from guest contributor Katherine Forster’s blog ‘dandelions and concrete‘.

Did you read this article in the CBC online News this summer:

Vancouver buzzing about new insect hotel

Old telephone booth now used to attract butterflies, birds and bees

Hartley Rosen, executive director of the Environmental Youth Alliance, and Nathan Lee helped build an insect hotel out of an old telephone booth.  The new hotel is part of a trail of green spaces to encourage more travel and pollination.  There are 12 cedar boxes filled with various materials, like maple logs, known to attract bees found inside.

The insect hotel at Oak Meadows Park is part of a 1,500-square-foot pollinator garden on West 37th Avenue between Oak and Willow streets

Wouldn’t it be great to see these in every city across Canada?

Image from CBC online News

Local Insect Hotels

Ecological Diversity of Storm Water Management Ponds

This article is cross-posted from guest contributor Katherine Forster’s blog ‘dandelions and concrete‘.

Have you ever wondered about the value of storm water management ponds?  How they stack up against more natural areas and whether they can support the same type of wildlife that a natural pond would?  There have been some interesting observations discovered by  the Department of Biology at Carleton University regarding this question.  A study that used ponds as an open-air laboratory for research into urban ecology has concluded that these man-made water facilities can support fish life and do not create a boggy haven for mosquitos as some might fear.

Here are the conclusions from the study as described from the online summary:

This project investigated the biodiversity of urban water bodies used for storm water management in Ottawa, Canada. Preliminary findings suggest that some of these managed water bodies contain similar levels of biodiversity to unmanaged, “natural” water bodies, although there are a number of highly degraded managed sites with very low biodiversity. The presence of fish in 10 out of 20 managed ponds suggests relatively healthy ecosystems. Analysis of mosquito monitoring data suggests that the presence of managed water bodies does not affect the number of mosquitoes in an area. In conclusion, urban ponds can contribute ecosystem services including storm water management and biodiversity without increases in insect disease vectors.

This shows that these storm water facilities can provide the same ecological features that a pond can and support a biodiverse community of flora and fauna.  Great news!

Image Credit: K. Forster

Ecological Diversity of Storm Water Management Ponds