The Enigma of the Inevitable Apartments

At their Monday night meeting, council will be considering the case of a proposed 73-unit apartment complex to go up at 3725 E Quance Street. If approved, this building will complete a trilogy of rental developments planned for the far east end of Victoria Ave/Highway One. The others are at 3351 E Eastgate Bay and 3730 Eastgate Drive.

The Quance Street development is interesting in that it is going before council with no recommendation from Regina Planning Commission attached to it. At the June 11 RPC meeting, the question of this development resulted in a tied vote. And instead of waiting until a meeting where more committee members could be present who could perhaps break the deadlock, committee chair, Ward 4 Councillor Michael Fougere -- who will be championing this project before council -- chose to move the application through the system. (You can read the Leader Post coverage here.)

City administration recommended denial for this application for a variety of reasons. Among them is the fact that the property is situated in an area zoned Major Arterial Commercial (MAC), which means it's meant for large-format retail that's built for car traffic -- not pedestrians. The road it's on is a feeder onto the highway so the closest thing to residential that's appropriate here is a motel. That's why the Official Community Plan indicates that an apartment building is not an acceptable use of the property. (Hence the need to go before council before turning sod for it.)

The other two apartments in this trio are in similarly inhospitable environs. For instance, the Eastgate Bay development -- which is intended to serve the senior's market -- is more than half a kilometre from the nearest busstop and only two thirds of the route to it has a sidewalk. More alarmingly, it will also be located within 120 metres of the Husky Truck Stop. Not only will the seniors in the Eastgate Bay building have to put up with the sound of idling trucks, the station occasionally serves rigs hauling dangerous goods. According to our traffic bylaws such vehicles are not allowed within 150 metres of residential properties.

Also of note, as all three buildings are poorly served by pedestrian infrastructure, the cost of retrofitting these neighbourhoods to accomodate residential foot traffic will be borne by the city.

Despite the fact that our plans, planners, policies and bylaws indicate that putting up residential in such a residential-unfriendly zone is inadvisable at best, these projects are still making their way through the system and finding favour with many on Regina's council.

In fact, just as Monday's Quance Street application will get before council despite enough opposition on RPC to bring the committee to a stalemate, the 3730 Eastgate Drive project made it before council despite a great deal of official opposition. That project (which was considered last October) was actually voted down by Regina Planning Commission (a rare thing) -- RPC as a body actually agreed with the recommendations of its staff. And yet, the Eastgate Drive project went before council and it was council that approved the project. (Update: Just spoke to Councillor Browne and apparently even reports that RPC votes to deny go before council. Who knew? This might be the first RPC denial I've seen.)

When you think of where these buildings will be built, you have to wonder, who would want to live there? The landscape is dominated by parking lots that are nearly always almost empty and only completely full one day out of the year. Streets are wide. Sidewalks are few. It is a land of asphalt, exhaust and howling wind. It's territory ceded to the automobile.

Thing is, no one wants to live there. I certainly don't. I'd wager none of the people on council and RPC who are pushing these buildings through despite the fact that they contradict the vision of our Official Community Plan would want to live there either.

But with our perilously low vacancy rate, many in Regina will find they have nowhere else to go.

Iran Update: Tehran Quiet?

After the Iranian government's weekend of brutality and murder, Tehran has apparently settled into an uneasy calm, reports the Guardian.

Meanwhile, the New York Times says Iran's clerics are divided. Gee, some men of deep faith apparently feel uneasy when troops shoot protesters after a rigged election.

Speaking of rigged elections, over at the Atlantic Andrew Sullivan--who's been doing a great job following the news in Iran--links to a report about possible (i.e. definite) vote fraud. Apparently there were more votes than voters in the June 12 election. And this is the official government report, not some tally by a touring U.N. democracy carnival or similar hippies. Well I guess these things happen, too bad kids have to be murdered as a result, whatchagonnado?

Good people, good country, rotten, brutal leaders. Give 'em the boot and prosecute where necessary.

Note: I'll continue to post angry, angry inks on this daily for at least the next week. You've been warned.

Happy Father's Day!

Bill Zeman has a blog called Tiny Art Director. The hook? His four year-old daughter tells him what to draw (or paint) and he draws (or paints) it. And she hilariously critiques it.

Why do you need to know about this? Because it is 52 million googaplex kinds of awesome.

And it's Father's Day so it seems fitting to talk about it.

You can find Tiny Art Director here.

Zeman is a Brooklyn, NY-based artist, illustrator, blogger and parent. Here's a link to his illustration blog. Apparently they'll be a Tiny Art Director book in 2010. I can't wait.