Thursday, September 22, 2011

Design Regina - LiveBlog recap

The following are my notes of the first Design Regina event.

Introductions underway at the first Design Regina presentation series at the UofR Education Auditorium.

Video streaming by Ustream
(Watch for my voice at 1hour 35 minutes.)

Fred Clipsham gives a greeting on behalf of Mayor Fiacco.
Tonight is Participatory Democracy.

7:22 the current Regina plan was designed 25 years ago. Demographics have changed, and so have technology and desires of the population.
Infrastructure isn't all in good repair, and some needs replacing.

Ken Greenberg says we're undergoing our third transformation in Regina.
In the 30s, the Interstate highway system "seemed like a good idea at the time".
An interesting cartoon from the late '50s depict how cities could be in the future.

Showtime magic highway USA 1958 by Disney.
They didn't foresee expensive energy, or traffic jams. They didn't see the impact of roads, that they always fill up.
They didn't see the effect on children's health, making kids obese from lack of activity.

Mentions Jane Jacobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities.

How are convenience and value perceived?

Buying real estate downtown instead of where you have to commute is a better investment. Commute time predicts value drop of suburb property.

Bike share, car share, pay with mobile devices, Asian Octopus.

Next fifty years is our time to retrofit the suburban infrastructure we've inherited.

Sustainability is a way of synthesizing and connecting.
Find higher levels of mix and overlap in new projects.
Shopping on main level, business above, and residences above that.

We're colonizing parking lots in the next phase.
We have no better options. We need to create a new political space that reflects how we actually live in cities.

St. Paul, MN lost its beautiful waterfront to commerce, shipping containers. In the mid 1990s Ken was asked to create a plan to transform it to be more picturesque.

Re-evaluate, and set the bar higher again.

Stockholm example given next. Northern climate examples are important for here.
Suction garbage removal, underground!
Removed industrial squatters.
Citizens involved in planning, and they aren't sustainability geeks, they're just average people caught up in the excitement of renewing their living environment.

So, how can Regina capitalize on the growth? Grow into parking lots, or grow outward and disconnect people through distance?

He bluntly says we can improve our transit system, through high investment, and a better layout than Calgary undertook. He says to make a serious move to car sharing too (YAY!) Regina Car Share Co-operative agrees.

A panel now speaks:
Nelson Bird: interesting and enlightening video, like the Jetsons. Regina downtown after five pm is desolate, but Saskatoon isn't at night.

Mo Bundon:
Right on Ken! Regina punches above it's weight. 25000 people in downtown living there? Political cycles don't line up with the longterm view. How does the stadium fit into this? Opportunity costs lost, stadium vs. Theatres, development, and smaller facility for same money spent.

Pat Dell:
Hard for young people to buy homes. Warehouse district is turning into condos and bar street.

Mike O'Donnell: kids affect him. Wants a safe place for kids, like depicted in Stockholm photo in presentation.
Multicultural Regina he is proud of it. Embracing Winter is key to success.

I got the first question, after Ken said a in city large, single use stadium wouldn't deliver all it promises.
I asked what the City could do to make it easier for car sharing to be adopted. Ken said it's possible to integrate bike, car, and transit sharing into one payment method, and for developers to get benefits from including car sharing in their designs. (The new R-Card could be for bikes and shared cars too, with mobile devices telling people where they can find each source of transportation near where they are standing. The technology is here, it only needs the people of Regina to implement this system by next year.)

Next question was a concern about library downtown being sold into private development, with loss of architectural heritage.

Next guy wants to build parking underground in more cases. Ken noted the cars in his photos were underground, with a city parking layer on top, then street level shopping, then business/commercial, then residences on top. This creates a bustling street-front all day and night.

Next comments on housing affordability. And building strategy.
Ken asks what constitutes the most efficient use of resources. Some infrastructure we use for only one thing for only part of the day, it's not efficient. Use downtown at night as well. This is why the current downtown is not efficient, it dies down completely at night, losing the opportunity to use the infrastructure more completely in one area and having to build separate infrastructure elsewhere to serve the people that commute daily.

The shared cars should be used night and day as well, business in the day, and families and youth at night for recreation and resource acquisition (ie. shopping).

The sprawled infrastructure is hard to maintain.

The end?
There are two more presentations like this, I encourage you to go!
Afterward I had stimulating conversations with many city employees, some of whom were happy to be talking to a transportation guru like me. I like walking, cycling, and car sharing, and I've used the bus, and drive at times. I'm flexible in how I get around, and know a lot about transportation systems, so I can teach a lot. I can also learn a lot more, and it's thrilling to have the ear of others in employed roles that could make some of my vision for Regina become a reality.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Backyard Potluck Supper Sept. 10, '11

You're invited to our Backyard Potluck Supper on September 10, 2011 at 5:30 p.m.

2053 Rae Street

We're celebrating a coming announcement regarding another generous contribution to the Regina Car Share Co-operative from Saskatchewan Credit Unions, and you'll have the chance to meet others interested in sharing cars. Bring your family and friends for a friendly meal with Regina's best sharers.

RSVP by email, but since it's a potluck supper, you're still very welcome if you aren't sure you can come at this moment.


John Klein and the Regina Car Share Co-op Board of Directors
Fan RCS on Facebook