Pics From Last Night's Council Meeting

Fifty or 60 people turned out for the meeting. In this pic, Nicor president Ross Keith addresses council with gravel-voiced determination.

The Regina Anti Poverty Ministry's Peter Gilmer asks Council to turn down four condo conversions. (Council doesn't.)

Ward 4 Councillor Michael Fougere, who chairs the Regina Planning Commission, which recommended passing the condo conversions council is considering this night.

Regina Mayor Pat Fiacco asks that one conversion application be sent back to City Administration so they can negotiate a better deal for tenants. (It is.)

Nicor president Keith and property owner Jason Diewold, who touts his properties' rent to own option.

Surviving the Recession

Finally, an economic stimulus strategy that we can all get behind (or some of us, anyway). (The Onion)

Dogged Determination

With all the stray dogs wandering around the pages of the June 18 issue, here's something else that got lost in the shuffle. It's a news brief I wrote that didn't get run, and considering the fast one Wall & Co. seem to be intent on pulling with the UDP report and the public consultations currently underway it deserves airing. Dan Perrins isn't supposed to submit his report until the end of August, yet the Globe & Mail story cited in two posts yesterday on Wall floating the idea of building a nuclear reactor in Saskatoon states that a decision could come as soon as August. Assuming the government is actually interested in reading the report, those timelines don't exactly match up. Yet when it comes to the ability of Saskatchewan citizens to proactively protect the environment, as the below report demonstrates, we don't have a lot of leverage.

Saskatchewan Receives Failing Grade
Environmental report cards are nothing new. Green activists have been releasing them for years as a way of evaluating the sensitivity of different jurisdictions, from provinces in Canada to countries around the world, to environmental issues.

On the eve of World Environment Day on June 5, Friends of the Earth Canada released its first annual report card on environmental rights available in law to Canadians (see http://www.foecanada.org/ ).

Ten criteria were examined, including the ability of individuals and organizations to initiate investigations and law suits related to suspected environmental misconduct, whistleblower protection for people who reveal instances of misconduct, measures to compel governments to respond to complaints, and so-called SLAPP protection which would prevent polluters from launching strategic lawsuits to dissuade individuals and groups from bringing forward their concerns.

Of the 13 jurisdictions examined, Yukon received the highest grade (B+). Ontario (B), Canada (C+) and Quebec (C+) also received passing grades. Every other jurisdiction was assigned a failing grade, with Saskatchewan, Alberta and Prince Edward Island all receiving Ds.

“What actions individuals and groups can take is largely dependent on what the government allows for in legislation,” says report author Jody Lownds. “We also need to keep in mind that our report doesn’t factor in any implementation gaps between what people can do in theory and how government processes actually work. Typically, there’s big gaps between what governments are supposed to be doing to allow their citizens to get involved and what’s actually happening on the ground.”

When it comes to environmental stewardship, says Lowds, traditional notions of property rights and legal standing are inadequate to address the dynamic nature of our eco-system. “In Alberta, for example, there’s an Environmental Appeal Board, where people who aren’t necessarily directly involved in a permit or environmental assessment can appeal a decision. But the test for standing is so strict that it’s not enough to simply be someone who’s concerned about the quality of your water and air. Unless your property interests are involved, you’re usually not able to [participate].

“One of the outcomes of this report, we hope, is that individuals and groups will start to lobby governments for better environmental rights,” says Lownds. “At the federal level, Friends of the Earth, along with Eco-Justice and Sierra Club of Canada, did put forward a draft Canadian Environmental Bill of Rights. Given the current political climate, though, it’s been difficult to make any headway.”

Carla Beck to Run for School Board Seat

We received a heads up tonight from Carla Beck that she is seeking election as school board trustee in subdivision 5 -- John Conway's old position.

Carla is a medical social worker in the Regina Qu’Appelle Health Region, a community organizer with Real Renewal and one of the people behind the Walking Schoolbus initiative we blogged about a while back.

She is also a noted critic of the current school board's plan for schools in Regina.

“One vision of renewal has been articulated by the current 10-year plan. I support a different vision,” says Beck, “one that values small, neighbourhood schools and reduced class sizes, decreases our reliance on busing and fossil fuels, values heritage architecture, and encourages local democracy and community involvement in schools.”

At the same time, she notes that she supports the board's efforts to make schools the centre of their communities by, for instance, integrating them into multi-use facilities.

City Council Update

Councillors Michael Fougere (Ward 4, southeast Regina), Wade Murray (Ward 6, centre-northeast), Sharron Bryce (Ward 7, north) and Jerry Flegel (Ward 10, north of Regina amid the golden Prairies). Photo by Stephen Whitworth.

It was a six hour council meeting -- Whitworth and I stuck it out to the bitter, bitter end. Apologies if this is shorter than it should be....

Meeting started with four condo conversions. Two were approved (15 Barr Avenue and 125 Froom Cr.) and two were referred back to city administration (230 E Broadway Ave and 2620 5th Ave) because there was some concern that tenant hardship hadn't been completely dealt with there.

The city also approved the expansion of the Prince of Wales library branch, the extension of the contract for Paratransit service, a zone agreement for the Souls Harbour Mission and a zoning exception for an apartment building to be put up out Quance way.

Also approved the purchase of a couple low floor buses, tax exemptions for the food bank and airport authority, a boost in transit fees, and funding of $10,000 for the Folk Fest's 40th anniversary while giving $10,675 to the Science Centre for it's 20th. Don't really much care that the Science Centre got a little extra money, it's such a tiny amount in the grand scheme of things --- but why $675 dollars exactly? Such an odd number.

Oh, also, you want to keep chickens in your backyard? Sorry. It's practically illegal now.


Boy, were we ever off in the dog deigning department! In my riveting masterpiece on first nations gas bars, Cowessess seems to have lost one dog (that's why they're on the cover and the text says they won, and because they did). Creeland also got dinged by a half dog, which would have upped their count to three.

The official score on the gas bars around town: Cowessess Gas and Grocery, 4.5 dogs; Saulteaux Junction, 4 dogs; Creeland Mini-Mart, 3 dogs. Along with the extra dogs, I would like to send our thank to all three of these businesses for their participation in this very important research.