New Marriage Initiative Encounters Controversy

I think this news item is meant more to satirize the heated debate in the United States over gay marriage then it is to poke fun at conservative middle class America, although it certainly does that. (The Onion)

Regina Urban Ecology: A Good Read

Regina Urban Ecology is a great, newish blog on city-planning-type issues from Laura Pfeifer and Martin Gourlie. From their About page:
"This is a forum to discuss the many aspects of the urban experience in Regina, Saskatchewan. We use the term 'urban ecology' to encompass issues of urban planning and design, aspects of community, art and culture, as well as the natural ecology of the city. It is a place to discuss how a unique urban experience is built and developed."
I'm a total nerd for stuff like this. They've only been around since September but already there's a sizeable collection of posts. Presently, on the front page, there are good articles on Regina's new "Infinite Horizons" brand and on the Walmart shuttle.

This Week at City Hall: Transit Review, Debt Shuffle and a Bus Fare Increase

Tuesday, February 16
Public Works Committee (4 pm): Looking at the installation of water meters in new buildings. Presently, water meters aren't installed until after a building is built and during construction a flat rate is applied for water use. Under the system being proposed, meters would be installed when construction begins and builders would be charged for the water they actually use.

Wednesday, February 17
Executive Committee (11:45 am): Apparently, in the past, when railway land has come up for sale, the city hasn't had a plan on how or when or if to purchase it for expansion of city services or to make available for housing or roads or what have you. Currently, there doesn't seem to be any railway land that'll imminently become available, but if Executive Committee accepts a recommendation coming forward this week, they will incorporate a railway land purchasing strategy into the Official Community Play.

They will also be looking at shuffling around some of their debt. The city currently has $42 million in debentures it took out to cover the cost of providing water and sewage services to the Global Transportation Hub. Turns out, they didn't need that cash as the cost of providing that service was cheaper than expected ($20-something million instead of $40-something million) and the provincial and federal governments paid for it. Instead of paying off the $42 million, Executive Committee is considering using the money for other capital projects. If they do this, they'll avoid paying a penalty for paying off their debt early. Plus, they're going to have to take out debentures to cover the capital projects anyway, so using these debentures saves them the trouble of getting new ones.

Also on the agenda, are some technical stuff about the Recreation Infrastructure Canada Fund Contribution Agreement (specifically, approvals are needed so the city clerk and mayor can negotiate and administer the federal government's $750,000 contribution), a request $135,413 to cover updates to the Regina Police Service radio system and a $122,500 contract for off-site storage of municipal documents.

Community and Protective Services Committee (4 pm): The transit review is finally here! Although they're officially calling it the Transit Investment Plan. So, Community and Protective Services Committee will be having a gander at this. It's kind of a big deal and at 260 pages, probably warrants a post of its own.

Also on their agenda are an increase in transit and paratransit fees. Expect to see the cost of riding the bus go up to $2.50 for an adult. The committee will also look at a report on the Campus Express service which shows transit usage by students is up since its introduction -- now if we could just get all the little anarchists and Ayn Rand fanboys to kick in for a universal UPass system the route might become sustainable. Did I just suggest our city's post-secondary student body is overrun with anarchists and Ayn Rand fanboys? Yes I did. But that's okay because I'll bet you dollars for donuts nary a one will read this far into this incredibly long, incredibly dull city hall update. It's Reading Week and they're all off getting drunk and syphillitic in Florida while I'm freezing my ass off here.

Yes, it's a particularly bitter Monday.

The committee will also be looking at increases in the greens fees at city owned golf courses. The city owns six golf courses.... that blows my mind a little. Why does the city own six golf courses? Is that a usual thing for a city to own?

As usual, blah blah blah, blah blah blah, the city website.

Pick of the Day: Fragmented

If you saw this image in the 14 Days section of our Feb. 11 issue you might well have wondered what the hell it was all about. Well, as you can likely infer from the info in the inset box, it's from an art exhibition by Regina painter Antoinette Herivel called Fragmented that's on at the Art Gallery of Regina until March 11.

If you happened to read the adjacent blurb in the Galleries & Museums section you would've learned that Herivel's inspiration for the show came from a reading of her grandmother's letters and diary-entries describing her WWII experience living under Nazi-occupation on the British island of Jersey.

Now I haven't actually seen this show yet (it just opened Feb. 10). But it looks like a solid one. In this work, which is called Die Festung [perhaps after a German novel by Lothar-Gunther Buchheim (who also wrote Das Boot) based on a journey he took across occupied France in 1944] words like "dissident", "inspection", "patrols" and "underground" leap out. I haven't seen too much, if any, of Herivel's work in recent years, but it does mark a big, and welcome, departure from what she used to to.

It's on until March 11. Check it out if you get a chance.