Evil Pacifists

Received this press release from the Canadian Firearms Institute today. How can people be so crass as to take advantage of other people's suffering in such a crude and thoughtless way?

Anti Gun Lobbyists Pandering to Public Sympathies

The Canadian Firearms Institute – Institut canadien des armes a feu has dismissed calls by the Anti Gun Lobbyists for yet another round of gun bans in Canada, following the tragic shootings in the United States (MSN) and Germany. (Bild)

Jim Newman, the Institute’s CEO said, “The Anti Gun Lobby should be behaving in a compassionate manner which would reflect genuine sympathy for those affected by this terrible event, instead of once again trying to exploit a tragedy in order to advance their agenda in Canada.”

“Anti-gun lobbyists seem confused about the fact that Canada, the United States, and Germany are very different countries, and this type of pandering to public sympathies only serves to reveal how little they actually understand about current Canadian firearms legislation.”

“Demanding an increase Canadian firearms restrictions in reaction to violence in another country is like saying that when the banks in another country fail, Canada should change its banking system.

The Canadian Firearms Institute is a non-profit member-driven firearms resource and advocacy group that has evolved as a direct result of a defined need for an organization, which can work effectively with and meet the needs of the various facets of the Canadian Firearms Community. http://www.canadianfirearmsinstitute.ca/

For more information please contact
Jim Newman, CEO
Direct Email: jim@canadianfirearmsinstitute.ca

Brand New Dog!

Yesterday being Thursday, there was a 50/50 chance there'd be a new prairie dog (our bi-weekly mag that comes out every second Thursday).

And as it turns out, there was a new 'dog yesterday. Hooray!
So what's in the new issue? Well...

STUBBLEJUMPER Carle Steel interviews director David Geiss about his new documdrama on about '70s Saskatchewan gay activist Doug Wilson. It's only playing at the RPL for two days (though it'll be on SCN March 28 at 9:00), and one of them was yesterday, so if you want to see it you'll have to head over there tonight. Show starts at 9:00. It's on a double bill with Courtney T. Gillen's short film Cured, a comedy about a pharmaceutical product called "gay away" that can cure homosexuality.

BOOZE PRIVATIZATION! In a fine piece of, uh, let's call it speculative journalism ("speculative" because it's a lot of yammering about something that hasn't actually happened), Stephen LaRose looks at this whole Liberal-raised notion of privatizing booze sales. A decent first-look at the topic, I think.

CYLONS! I'm not a big fan of the stylish but self-important TV show Battlestar Galactica but I'm in the minority so screw me and my snotty opinions. Paul Dechene writes an ode to the gritty space-epic in advance of its final episode, which is on, uh, tonight. Hm. You should see Stubblejumper instead.

ALSO: An great interview with comedian Derek Edwards, a report on Canwest's ongoing debt problems, a news brief on SaskTel trying to farm out it's e-mail (cough privatization cough), reviews of Watchmen and the new Neko Case album, Cyclone, Street wear, My Music, News Quirks, David Suzuki, Gwynne Dyer, Typo Wiener, an insane Queen City Confidential that seems to be about Regina's lack of a zoo, and more. All cramed into 24 pages. Wow. And the best part? We're going to do this all again in two weeks. Neat!

(Coverphoto is Stubblejumper director David Geiss. Photo by Carey Shaw, www.careyshaw.com)

Parking Lagoons Approved for Harbour Landing: RPC Update III

A late addition to the Regina Planning Commission's Wednesday March 12 agenda was recommended for approval. It was the concept proposal for the “Grasslands” commercial/retail centre in the Harbour Landing Subdivision. The centre is to feature a mix of retail, restaurants and other consumer services as well as two Big Box stores.

Oh, and it will also boast the most parking per square metre of any shopping centre in the city.

Among the reasons given for recommending approval is that as presented the development conforms to the Harbour Landing concept plan, it will not detract from the city’s goal of making the downtown the main hub for office and entertainment, and that the developers have made efforts to make the Grasslands pedestrian friendly and have built in pedestrian linkages to surrounding neighbourhoods.

Also, the plan includes an “urban village” or “lifestyle centre” in the northwest quadrant.

From the report these “lifestyle centres” are characterized by “smaller, open-air clusters of shops, professional and personal services, restaurants, entertainment and leisure establishments, all with direct frontage or convenient access to a pedestrian-oriented ‘main street’ or central square which in turn incorporates open space, enhanced sidewalks and ‘on-street’ parking.”

To view the plans for the Grasslands “lifestyle centre”, click on that image accompanying this post and it should blow up to a more readable size. Or you can go to the city’s website yourself and download the full report here.

Now, I suspect this development is going to be pitched as a step forward in urban commercial design and an success in terms of being “pedestrian focussed”.

Personally, I’m thinking, is this the best we can do?

Of major concern with this development is the amount of parking. The designers seem to be once again going for the “Tiny Atoll of Retail Buildings Surrounding a Massive Parking Lagoon” look.

The ratio of built-space to parking will be on the order of 0.229 to 0.293. That means less than one third of the entire area of the development will be retail space. The rest will be surface parking. There are no parking garages mentioned in the plan.

Presently in Regina, the lowest ratio of built space to parking is 0.269 for the Southland Mall. And if you've ever tried to cross it on foot, navigating that parking lot is not unlike playing Frogger on the hard setting.

Well, judging by these plans, Grassland could potentially be worse.

It’s worth noting that in other similarly zoned commercial areas, the ratio of built space to parking is higher -- ranging from 0.313 to 0.81.

City administration even concedes in its own report that “the amount of on-site parking provided on all four parcels appears to substantially exceed what may be reasonably required to serve the present proposal.”

Now, to mitigate this morass of asphalt, pedestrian ways are planned, but when you have a look, they seem perfunctory and not terribly useable. One pedestrian cut-through zig-zags between blocks of parking. Two of the intersections have cross walks that lead to sidewalk-free corners. Those sorts of things.

Also of concern is that all of the sidewalks in this development are designated as private sidewalks. This is probably pretty standard within shopping areas like this. But it undermines the idea of this “lifestyle centre” being some kind of community gathering place or local main street in an urban village as any use of that space that’s deemed unacceptable to the surrounding business owners can be stopped immediately as it’s occurring on private property. Great if you want to stop sketchy individuals from dealing drugs in your “lifestyle centre.” Bad for those who, I don’t know, want to stage a protest in the main square of their “urban village.”

In short: more sham public space in the midst of parking sprawl.

Another concern is that the developer has indicated that many elements of this proposal should be considered conceptual in nature and as the site is developed over the years parts of it may change. The only thing the report mentions is a lock to go forward are the two Big Box developments.

In other words, we may only ever get Big Box stores. The more progressive elements of this site plan may yet be abandoned at a later date.

The few progressive elements included here seem the only reason to okay this project. (And again, I have to ask, is this really the best we could have hoped for?) And yet, considering the current economic climate, they are also likely to be the first things to get ditched as being not economical. A cynical reporter might think things like the “pedestrian focus”, the “transit integration” and the “urban village” are just there so the project will win approval. Getting approval for changes can always be sought later.

This project is not yet a done deal. It still needs final approval from city council which it will likely get at their March 23 meeting. Don’t mean to sound pessimistic or anything.

Nightclub Becomes Offices: RPC Update II

I moved here after my daughter was born so I’m not exactly dance-club/live-music-attending guy any more, so can some one please tell me the name of the nightclub that formerly occupied the second floor of 2300 Dewdney?

Regina Planning Commission last night approved an application to turn the space that was once that nightclub into offices.

The nightclub on the first floor of 2300 Dewdney is to remain.

This application will go before city council on March 23 for final approval.

New Apartment Block for Broad Street: RPC Update I

Wednesday evening, the Regina Planning Commission approved an application to build a four-story, 70-unit apartment complex at 110 Broad Street North. According to the report, there was some community concern about this development. Chief among them being the shadow the building would cast on the houses to the west and the fact that it would block residents' view of Broad Street (because, naturally, Broad Street is something you'd want to look at). The city’s need for rental housing won out in this case, however.

And as for that... it’s true the city needs more affordable rental properties. And this is good sign that developers do see it as feasible to build them. The downside is that this building is at Broad and 5th which is just beyond the north end of the Warehouse District, and while I think this is still technically in the “Central Zone” it isn’t exactly centrally located, if you know what I mean -- especially when you factor in the PHZ (Pedestrian Hostile Zone) in and around the rail overpass.

More than 70 rental units have been approved for conversion to condos on Rae Street between 13th and College in the last year alone. In addition, there have been conversion approvals for a building at Montague and 13th, two more in the Transition Area and most recently, one near the UofR. Meanwhile, cranes aren’t exactly going up all around the downtown to build affordable housing. (Nor around the university as far as I know.)

A sad byproduct of all this attention being paid to the downtown and of all this resurgence in interest in living centrally is that more and more lower income people are being driven towards the fringe of the city where there aren’t so many services. That’s fine, I suppose, if you’re living in a suburb and own a car or three, but many of the people being displaced in all this gentrification aren’t car owners.

Oh... one other bit of good news. The greenhouse/plant shop that is currently on the site where this apartment block is being built is remaining. It will just be reoriented on the lot. I’ve a soft spot for greenhouses.

This application will go before city council on March 23 for final approval.