Thursday, 23 May 2013

Regina Parking Woes - Bylaws & Fair Treatment

Good morning Regina!!!

Well, the past 48 hours have been, to say the least, interesting on Twitter. If you don't have Twitter, or you don't follow me on Twitter, you really, really should get into it. At least for the lively discussions that happen on there! If you haven't been paying attention to the news or City Council over the past few days, something that has caused some eyebrows to be raised is the application for a new Night Club on Albert Street - right next door to the Regina Chamber of Commerce and a Chiropractic Clinic. Nothing says "Party Hard" like being stuck between two businesses of this nature!

So, these "lively discussions" on Twitter began on Tuesday, I believe, when the Metro printed an article that outlined some honest concerns by Mr. Adam Sperling, Owner of the Slow Pub and La Bodega. Both places that I have rarely if ever visited before, but may make it my #1 priority to frequent going forward. Why? Well, simply out of spite for these know-it-alls that seem to think the rules don't apply to them, who are opening said night club across the street. Why do I take such a hard stance on this you ask? Well, read on my friends, read on!

Speaking towards the Metro article that the owners of the proposed night club found so offensive (, you will find that there are specific parking bylaws that these new owners are being asked to "be relaxed" by quite a significant amount. As far as renovations go, I am not sure what the deal is there, as to how much has been done or how much hasn't, and honestly - no one's shown us the top floor yet. HOWEVER, the owners of said building are alleging that the Metro told lies in this story, which - when I read the story - seems to be completely inaccurate. If anything, it's more about the fact that these new owners are upset that the Metro dared to report a story without getting "their version" of the story first. They've even gone so far as to call the Metro out on Twitter, saying that "they didn't even try to get a hold of us" - because apparently, they are the easiest people to get in contact with. That's a direct quote from them. Apparently, if you believe you are easily approachable, and the media says they couldn't get in contact with you, then they must be lying - dammit.

So, after I asked these guys what their side of the story was, here's how I have managed to make sense of what they've responded with:

1) The new owners - Derek Wu, Colter Wood, Jim Demeray and Trevor Anderson - are upset because the Metro reported that there are four owners and not three. To me, this is silly, childish and something they shouldn't even be bitching about. I've got photo evidence that proves that there may be others involved - not that I really give a shit, nor should anyone, other than to prove these owners wrong in their accusations of being unfairly "attacked" by the Metro.
UPDATE: In follow up to my post, I've been informed that Mr. Jim Demeray is actually not an owner but the landlord. With that said, again, this is a trivial matter, and really not something anyone should bicker over or make a big deal out of. HOWEVER - I'm not sure how many typical landlords attend a "celebration party" for their tenants success of bypassing a bylaw. (I'm having issues uploading photos - but suffice it to say, Mr. Demeray was at the celebration)

2) These new owners appear to be upset that they think Mr. Sperling is more concerned about competition, than the actual issue at hand, which is parking - or lack thereof. At first, I didn't fully understand this problem, but after reading more today, it makes perfect sense.

2a) The new business requires minimum 12 parking stalls for customers. Of which they have only "three" on-site (behind the bldg - more intended for staff than customers - but whatever, semantics). They also allegedly have an "agreement" with the Chamber of Commerce (which nobody has bothered to show the public other than the verbal diarreha that comes out of Mr. Hopkins mouth - be careful believing anything you hear from that guy is all I'm saying), that the Chamber is "allowing" them allegedly "exclusive access" to their six (or three depending on news reports today) spots in the back of THEIR building. So, you either have 6 or 9 "on site" parking spots. Leaving 3 or 6 to be addressed - which is where this bylaw comes in and talks about "caveated parking", and how it has to be within a certain distance (30M).

The parking that these owners have approached Impark about is actually 75M away, more than double the allowable distance. They are asking that this bylaw be "relaxed", and say it's "standard operating procedure" and that the Slow Pub owners also had the same treatment. I haven't had a chance to talk with Mr. Sperling yet, but if this is the case, then it opens the question as to why has this bylaw not been reviewed since that time. Of note, however, is that Slow Pub also has an actual parking lot in front of it, where it is pretty obvious that it is customer parking, not employee parking, where this new night club does not.

2b) The issue I see that Mr. Sperling has, and understandably so, is that he is concerned that the patrons of this new night club will park in his lot and walk across the street. Not only taking spaces away for his actual clientelle, but potentially taking customers away from his business. Yes, that's competition, but it's about far more than that. He should not have to be forced to tow cars from the lot - and the City DOES play a role in this - by ensuring that they adhere to the bylaws that are set out for this very purpose.

3) This issue exploded on Twitter over the last 48 hours. Why? Because of the actual bylaw issues that these guys are blatantly getting at least preferred treatment? A situation where this application should NOT be approved at least until all those issues are cleared up first - none of this "Subject to" bullshit? NOPE. It's because they are pissed off. And, well, they have connections in this City. Well known connections. And, well, when you dare to challenge these people - in their "clique" - you are automatically labelled an asshole, and you are the devil. Whether it be the Metro for reporting "not all views", or Slow Pub for complaining that they are not abiding by the written Bylaws. Who is in this clique? Some pretty heavy hitters. I won't get into name-dropping in here, just suffice it to say - I'm not surprised one bit by ANY of the individuals involved in their "clique". And you thought High School was bad? Now we're playing with real money and real life issues that affect people's livelihoods. Oh - and tax dollars.

There might be those that say I am biased because of who is in their "clique" - and no I am not. I don't care who you are, or who your family are, or what connections you think you have in this City. I don't care how much weight you think you hold in this City (because of the "tax dollars you represent" - Mr. John Hopkins, CEO of Chamber direct quote), you do not get special treatment by those in this City just because you think you should. I am disgusted at these people's behaviour, and embarassed they are living in our City, let alone representing it on a National and International scale.

In the end - what lesson have I learned from daring to ask legitimate questions of these new owners? By the way, there was only one reasonable person who actually kept his cool with the many questions thrown out - Derek Wu, I must congratulate him on that. DO NOT CHALLENGE THE FOLKS IN THIS CLIQUE - if you don't want your business/media outlet to be swarmed with hate mail/negative "word of mouth" through Social Media, etc/attacks/boycotting etc. by those "powers that be" in this City. Sadly, the Prairie Dog Magazine experienced this with the last Mayor, but I think it's gotten better (??) with Mayor Fougere. Sadly, there are other media outlets in this City that appear to be more inclined to be speaking podiums for the City and these "powers that be" than anything else. I commend the Metro AND Prairie Dog for not being afraid to tell it like it is. It may not flatter everyone, but news is not meant to be flattering. It's meant to tell a story. It's meant to tell the truth. Regardless of empty threats by the City and/or their "elitist clique" that they will (OMG) pull their advertising dollars from you if you DARE print anything that offends them. Big fucking babies is what these "Powers that be" are.

The one name I will drop here is Chelsea Manz of - I won't say much on here, but just go check out her Twitter account if you get a chance (@chelsea_manz). It's truly unfortunate that this promising up and coming business venturist is making some pretty disturbing comments towards myself, and she's only hurting herself and her business more than anything by her explosive Tweets over the last 24 hours. All because she didn't like that her buddy was being challenged with actual questions. Sorry Chelsea - I call them as I see them, and if you don't like it, then have fun with your buddies when Regina finally does get cleaned up of this bullshit by your "friends" that you think you have in Regina.

Have a great Regina Day everyone!!!!

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Housing & Parking - Two Major Issues: Easy to Fix?

Good morning Regina!

Well, it is looking like the City of Regina and Mayor Michael Fougere are facing some pretty intense heat from the general public, and the media, regarding housing, and now it appears that parking enforcement is also on the radar. What's nice about this? Not much. Other than the fact that these are two specific campaign platform points that I ran on, that - while not the panacea - would have provided a very reasonable and viable solution for each of these problems.

The first being the Affordable Housing and the current housing crisis that is affecting the residents of Regina. Aside from the Stadium, this was the hot button issue on the campaign trail in 2012 during the Civic Election. In fact, I would argue that it took priority over the Stadium, simply because there was nothing much anyone could do about the stadium project - City Council was bound and determined to ram the Stadium project through no matter what the election results told them. It has become quite obvious in recent weeks and days that the Mayor's Housing Summit, promised by Mayor Fougere as "Step One" in addressing these severe housing issues in our City, is doing nothing more than providing lip service to those directly impacted by the situation, and is setup to be more of a networking opportunity for those developers, construction companies, and government officials.

One solution that I had proposed, admittedly not as vocally as I should have, was to look at other cities to determine what has worked, and what hasn't worked as well, in addressing their housing situations. Regina is not alone in experiencing this problem - the root problem being uncontrolled growth - and thus, we should take the time to learn from other Cities, rather than trying to define a "Made in Regina" solution to the problem. Thankfully, it appears that this is something that Mayor Fougere is borrowing from my toolbag as part of this Housing Summit ( But, the obvious question is - why do we need an expensive summit to learn something that a few phone calls and a few meetings could have addressed in November? You know, right after the election, proving that it was actually his number one priority, rather than the Stadium project.

I could go on for paragraphs about how to fix the Housing situation, but I will hold my comments until later to see what concrete plans actually do come out of this networking opportunity for the elite. Now onto parking ( This one is actually a very simple fix - or at least from those I've consulted on this. The unfortunate thing is the City of Regina seems to be more focussed on enforcing their self-created parking problems, rather than proactively providing solutions to the problem of parking in the downtown core. It's obvious for anyone that works within the downtown region that parking IS a problem. There are off-street parking solutions, but very few, and what there are, there is at least a year-long waiting list. And, you can't park in a metered spot for more than two hours, so the next solution? Park in the residential areas in the vicinity of downtown! Great idea, right? Wrong. There is also a two-hour limit to parking in these areas, and the unfortunate thing is - this is only setup as an apparent tax-grab by the City, rather than providing any actual solutions. People continue to park in these areas, regardless of how many tickets they get, and this never actually addresses the problem.

What was the solution that I proposed over a year ago? Talk to the companies that are experts in parking, like ImPark. Yes, I get that not everyone likes companies specializing in parking, but the reality is - they know the market best - why not let them handle the situation? There are things the City can do to alleviate the residents concerns with private parking companies, and that is working with them, instead of against them. When I met with the Executives at ImPark last March, they loved the ideas I was proposing. When I asked why they weren't pursuing these solutions, the answer was simple. The City was unwilling to work with them. The City has a view that they want to focus on Transit, rather than the known problem of downtown parking and traffic. This is truly unfortunate, especially considering the Transit is - less than ideal - at the current moment.

So, with all that said, hopefully the City is willing to revisit this issue, and we can work towards a proactive solution to the simple fixes to downtown issues of Traffic, Congestion and Parking. Once I have a spare moment to arrange a meeting with them, I will try to do that, and maybe, just maybe, we can fix this known problem for future years!

Have a great Regina Day everyone!

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Regina's Housing Crisis: Made even worse by the City of Regina

Good morning Regina!!

In what even the City of Regina admits is a ridiculous bylaw, it would appear that this week is far more about action than words. Within days of the Regina Housing Summit which is planned to occur May 13 & 14, news broke Monday with a CTV exclusive report (later reported by other local media outlets), and gaining more traction by the hour, the City of Regina is in some hot water as it tries to enforce a bylaw that, get this, prevents homeowners from renting out rooms in their house to "non-relatives" for "compensation". What's worse? This is perfectly allowable in that very same bylaw - IF THE OWNER DOESN'T LIVE THERE!!! Yes, you read that right Regina, both situations result in the same alleged inconveniences that those in "mid to upper scale neighbourhoods" complain to the City about, but yet, one is perfectly alright, while the other can land you with a $10,000 fine or up to a year in jail. Yep, that's your reward for helping with the Regina Housing Crisis, folks! FINED or IMPRISONMENT.

This is why I say, strongly, that actions speak far louder than words. No amount of "elitist" bullshit Housing Summit event, no matter how well-intended, can offset the horrible PR nightmare that is only just beginning for the City of Regina with this one ridiculous bylaw - or more to the point, the enforcement of said ridiculous bylaw. I recall at a recent housing "information" session (it was supposed to be Q&A, but a lot of people left with more Q's than A's), that the City Deputy Manager, Jason Carlston, himself, agreed this bylaw was outdated and needed to be ammended and/or reviewed. First off, I was blown away that this bylaw even existed at that time, but I thought, "thank goodness they aren't enforcing such a stupid bylaw." Then, BAM, Monday, here we go, enforcement. Keep in mind, folks, this is only the first such situation to be reported to the Media. How many others have silently allowed the City of Regina to walk all over them and evicted their tenants because they were afraid of the penalties that the City would enforce on them?

With the above in mind, and considering Regina is facing an extremely tight housing crisis (Vacancy at or below 1% for many months/years now), I STRONGLY encourage each and every one of you to do AT LEAST one of three things:

#1 - Phone your City Councillor and tell them to STOP ENFORCING THIS BYLAW until it has been reviewed and updated. Even the BYLAW ENFORCEMENT MANAGER has been quoted on TV as saying that it's a ridiculous bylaw, but "they have no choice but to enforce it". Actually, this is completely false. They do have the option to explain to the complainers about their honest concerns with this ridiculous bylaw and that they are looking into ways to address it. I believe that this would alleviate any concerns of those residents who are upset with the situations, on both sides.

#2 - Attend the Meeting at St. Martin's Parish on Thursday evening from 7-9pm, where the City has agreed to meet with residents about this utterly ridiculous situation. It is my personal hope that they will say "oops" and reverse this ludicrous decision until updates to the bylaws are made.


#3 - Take part in the "Enough Talk, Let's Walk" put on by Carmichael Outreach on Monday, May 13, 2013 at 12:00PM. Details below:


Do you struggle with housing or have you struggled with housing in the past? Are you currently homeless or know someone who is? Carmichael Outreach would like to invite you to join our walk in hopes to raise awareness surrounding Regina’s current housing crisis.

Date: Monday, May 13, 2013
Start Time: 12:00 pm
Walk will begin: North Central Community Association (1264 Athol St.)
Walk will end: In front of City Hall, approx 2:00 pm (2410 Victoria Avenue)

Following the walk Carmichael will hold a press conference where everyone will be invited to share their stories, ask questions regarding the city’s current housing strategy, and express any concerns. Come out and support your community and get people talking. We would like to hear your story!

If you have any questions or concerns regarding the walk please feel free to contact Laura Dieter or Alaina Harrison at . We can also be reached at Carmichael Outreach Inc. (306) 757-2235.

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Community Approach to Solving Community Issues - Part One

Good afternoon Regina!

I hope everyone is out enjoying the sunshine and warmth the past couple of days, after the long winter we had! I enjoyed a lot of it outdoors, and now took a break to relax indoors. Too much sun and heat isn't necessarily the best thing either!

So, the other day, someone brought up the subject of my apparent "personal hatred" for certain individuals in this City and certain organizations. For the longest time, I simply laughed this off as something that people just brought up to find something, anything, to complain about what I do. Then, I decided, okay I'll ask the question "Is this what you honestly believe?" I was shocked, to say the least, to see the legitimate responses from some folks that I did not expect to see the response from. With that said, I guess I need to really clear the air as to why exactly it is that I have certain feelings towards certain individuals, and understand that I hold no hatred in my heart for any individual or organization, I simply want to ensure that no one ever gets a "free ride" in life, especially when it's on the taxpayer's dime. If they want to screw people over on their own dime, as much as I can't stand it, so be it. Go for it. Just don't ever expect me to ever support you or your efforts until you realize what wrongs you are doing in life, and you have made amends for those wrongs.

First off, regarding the Fiacco family, probably one of the most misunderstood issues, perpetuated by them and their (extended) family, and continual harassment from those that choose to associate themselves with this family, for whatever reason, personal gain or whatever. I want to make this 100% clear, up until February 14, 2012, I had the utmost respect for Mayor Pat Fiacco, and thought the world of him. Yes, believe it or not, I looked up to the man. Many called me out for idolizing him, but I was of the belief that until I see with my own eyes what these others are seeing or have seen, I see no reason to not believe the public image that he was portraying. Or at least the public image that his polished PR team was portraying. I did not know who any of the other Fiacco's were, nor did I care. To me, he was Mayor Pat, 12 year Mayor of our great City. The one who could do no wrong, the one that changed the image of our great City from one of a dark and dingy, "smelly", City, to one that many folks were proud to call home.

February 14 came around, and at the time when I was planning to run for City Council in Ward 8 against Mike O'Donnell, Mayor Pat holds a press conference, assumably to announce he is running again. To the shock and awe of many, he announced that he was stepping down. (My personal views on this will be discussed in a later posting - which changed from this date to later in the campaign) That was when I realized that my passion for affecting change in a positive fashion might just have been given the Golden Opportunity! My wife and I sat down and discussed it long and hard, and within the next 48 hours, I had placed a phone call to Mayor Pat's office to request a meeting with him. Many from his "extended family" assume, incorrectly, that the only purpose of this meeting was to get his endorsement. While I agree that would have been nice, that was not the intent of this meeting, whatsoever. In fact, if they keep recordings of all phone calls to the Mayor's office, I would invite you to do a Freedom of Information request to listen to that very conversation. All I wanted to do was get Mr. Fiacco's feedback on what it was like to run for Mayor and be Mayor from both a personal and professional standpoint, and if there was any feedback he could provide to someone brand new on the scene, similar to how he was 12 years prior. I was not wanting that meeting to be anything more than simply more food for thought for my wife and I to consider.

Unfortunately, I didn't receive a response till many days later. In fact, it was two days after Michael Fougere announced his intentions to run, where also Mayor Pat announced his endorsement of him. Many say it was a given, I call it a premature decision, but a year later, it is quite obvious that this was his intent all along, for weeks if not months prior to that. Regardless of what you'd been fed through the Media up to that point, that was the reality of it. Unfortunate, but still, worth the meeting for his personal feedback, or so I thought. The Mayor's office called to tell me that my meeting would happen with him on March 7, 2012, which happened to be two days after my planned March 5 Press Conference. Over the next two weeks, my life was a living Hell. I had plans SET IN STONE to use the City Square Plaza for my "big announcement" and even had the approval (signatures and all) to bring my vehicle onto the Plaza for the announcement. Now, a year later, it's obvious to realize just why it was so important for me to include my vehicle. I was thrown roadblock after roadblock after roadblock by the City (the details are far too lengthy to get into in this blog post), and finally by March 1, 2012, I had enough. I decided to cancel my meeting with Mayor Fiacco, and told his office "If he wants to meet with me at a later date, he can, but the reason for my meeting with him is now pointless." - in other words, I had witnessed first hand just what that office was capable of (professional feedback) and what he thought of anyone daring to challenge the norm (personal feedback). 

There is much more I could go into right now, but that should be saved for a future posting. Suffice it to say, this was the beginning of my disgusting interactions with his Executive Assistant, Mr. Mark Rathwell, and still to that day, I didn't have a clue about any of the Fiacco family.

Have a great Regina day everyone!!

Stay tuned for Part Two - Discussing issues with the RPS and more!