MUPpets in the Field: Laurie

Today you’re treated to a guest post from Laurie, our resident MUP student who is originally from France. This summer she’s working for a development firm and learning lots about the process (like, how the job involves wearing a hard hat at all times).

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This summer, I’m working for DevMcGill, a Montreal-based residential developer.  It is a great opportunity for me to see a different side of planning. When thinking about urban planning, most people envision municipal positions, with tasks such as creating a city’s master plan and writing municipal by-laws. Here, I get to see how a developer works to create projects that meet its own business goals (in terms of desired architectural design, unit mix, type of uses included and financial objectives) while conforming to municipal zoning plans and building norms.

As the team’s planning intern, I’m helping with the building permit applications. I get to go through the zoning by-laws of the different boroughs of Montreal in order to see which norms apply to our projects. Everyday I’m a little more thankful for our Planning Law class last term… My life would be miserable without it!

DevMcGill is a very young and active company. My colleagues come from many different backgrounds, and it’s really interesting to see how everyone collaborates to create a project from scratch, from researching potential sites to working with architects and engineers on the project design, building the pro-forma, creating a balanced unit mix or working with clients who want to personalize their condo. I’m really enjoying this chance to understand how the whole development process unfolds and who the many stakeholders involved are.

Working in Montreal is also a great cultural experience for me. I’ve learnt a lot about the condo market here, which is very different from real estate in France. And I have to admit: I’m definitely enjoying the comfort of working in my mother tongue… Although I’m finally picking up on québécois expressions thanks to my adorable coworkers. C’est le fun!

Aside from the internship, I’m spending my time exploring the city (and its incredible art scene), attending the numerous ongoing festivals and preparing the next CAPS (Canadian Planning Students Association) Conference which will be held in Montreal next February… You should hear about that soon enough!

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MUPpets in the Field: Laurie

MUPpets in the field: Kathleen

Kathleen is one of the international students in the program (she hails from the great city of Chicago). She has a background in community development and a keen interest in housing issues.

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My internship is with the Housing Department of the City of Montreal, where I’m working on an analysis of new construction. The work itself is very focused on the nitty-gritty business of sorting through thousands of data, then presenting the analysis in a clear way. For all the times I’ve felt lost in the data, I’ve had the support of terrific colleagues who have been clear about their expectations and who have been very patient with me when I just didn’t get it. I’m the only intern on the team, so I have plenty of opportunity to go pick the brains of my colleagues, whose knowledge of Montreal and of housing policy issues is impressive.

Working in Montreal over the summer has been interesting from a social point of view as well. Although I speak French, this is my first time working in an almost entirely Québécois context. Picnics in the Parc de la Fontaine and outdoor festivals aren’t bad either. After a very busy academic year at McGill, I am finally getting the chance to appreciate the City and its unique culture.

MUPpets in the field: Kathleen

Rosemont Court

Tuesday evening (April 3rd) I attended an open house at the Rosewood Park Alliance Church, the former St. Patrick’s Elementary school and the site of a proposed new housing development (City and leader post).  THis project is notable because the developer, Newrock Developments, is partnering with Classic Communities to provide mortgage assistance to buyers as was done with the Eastgate Villas development last year. 

There will be 78 town-house style units in three different sizes, two to three bedrooms, all more than 1000 sqft.  The cost is estimated between $240 000 and $260 000, but Classic Communities provides money towards the mortgage down-payment, providing assistance in home ownership.

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Rosemont Court

The Crescent Apartments: Now and Soon to be

We have known for some time that the Crescent Apartments at 1550 14th Avenue are not long for this world.  The tenants have received their eviction notices.  The building appears to be empty.  Over the last few weeks, the property owner attempt to remove the Crescent Apartments from the Heritage Holding bylaw to expedite the removal of the building and allow construction of a new structure.

 On February 29th, Regina Planning Commission met to review the application (RPC 12-11) from Westland Ventures Inc. and Granite Developments Inc.  This meeting usefully highlighted some of the limitations of the City’s ability to preserve heritage buildings.  Owners must apply for heritage designation, with the City only notifying property owners of potential financial incentives with designation once a potential change to a property/building is in the works.  There’s one person dedicated to reviewing buildings on the heritage holding bylaw list.  Any changes that trigger a permit will come across their desk. With only one person, the city seems to lack the capacity to take a pro-active approach with property owners before changes get underway.

Continue reading “The Crescent Apartments: Now and Soon to be”

The Crescent Apartments: Now and Soon to be

City Council Meeting

There is an important City Council meeting on Monday, January 23 beginning at 5:30pm.  There are a variety of topics but the two getting the most attention are the changes to the condominium conversion policy (CR12-4)and the report back on alternatives to demolition for the apartment block on 1755 Hamilton Street (CM12-1).

It would be great to see people come down to the Council Meeting.

City Council Meeting

Queen City Tenants Association

 

Tuesday night was the first AGM for the Queen City Tenants Association Inc. (QCTA).   Around a dozen people came to the event, braving the coldest night of the year so far. 

The group advocates that all Regina citizens have access to appropriate and affordable housing.  At the meeting, the board and membership adopted a set of bylaws including the group’s vision, goals and values.

The group’s vision is as follows:

3.1. The Queen City Tenants Association Inc. is non-profit, non-partisan and

3.1.1. Promotes solutions for tenants

3.1.2. Increases awareness if tenant/landlord rights, responsibilities and obligations

3.1.3. Provides educational materials for tenants and the homeless

3.1.4. Advocates on behalf of Regina residents facing housing challenges 

Some of QCTA’s goals include establishing whistleblower protection for tenants, creating minimal standards for rental housing properties and opposing a base tax rate for housing properties. 

Generally, the QCTA values collective decision-making, being community and needs driven and accountable.

 

The second part of the meeting featured a presentation by Dale Beck of the Office of Residential Tenancies (ORT) (If you have questions about your rights as a tenant or landlord click on the link above, call ORT in Regina 787-2699 or toll-free in Sask 1-888-215-2222 or email queries to: ORT@gov.sk.ca).   

Mr. Beck spoke about the Office’s efforts at conflict resolution between landlords and tenants.  The hope is that the information provided by the website and staff can inform the both parties of their rights and responsibilities, so they can resolve conflicts together, without mediation. 

There has been a reduction in the amount of mediation that Mr. Beck’s office goes through.  He noted, however, even with the reduction, over 60 000 phone calls came into the office in 2010.  With 6 800 applications, 80% of which were initiated by landlords, for resolution. 

Dr. Beck went on to talk about some of the rights and responsibilities of tenants and landlords legislated by the government of Saskatchewan.

The QCTA plans to have 4-6 meetings a year with special gatherings on specific topics or for fundraising in addition.  Full memberships will cost five dollers, with associate memberships also available.   

 

 

Queen City Tenants Association