After a very successful day yesterday, today I am so happy to see some more resident questions being sent along because it tells me that many are truly paying attention to this election. We held the (Para)Transit Rally yesterday, and I was extremely impressed with the turnout and the commitment by many Council and Mayoral Candidates to dramatically improve the Paratransit and Transit systems in Regina. You can see the video of the Rally on my Facebook page. I was very pleased to see current Ward 3 Councillor Shawn Fraser take some time to stop in and hear of the concerns as well, even though he is not running again. I feel it is very important to note, however, that not one current City Councillor who is running for re-election bothered to show up. This should be very telling to you in terms of their commitments to residents.
Also yesterday, City Council heard an application by Forster Projects and Harvard Developments to approve the Aurora Retail Complex in East Regina. While I am not opposed to this commercial development, per se, I felt it was the perfect opportunity to at least make a point and have this report delayed until next City Council meeting, where the new City Council will be allowed to vote on it. All it needed was one vote against the third reading of the Bylaw...and it happened!!!! I was so happy and excited to see this happen. While merely a formality, it sends a message to this Council that further public consultation was sorely lacking and the residents deserve a say. I want to thank Councillor Shawn Fraser for standing up for what is right here, as he was the lone voice voting against the approval.
Further resident Questions and Answers follow:
As per the resident: The literature of candidates, including yours, is vague to the point of being irrelevant. Everyone wants “transparency”, everyone wants “lower taxes”, no one likes “traffic congestion” ..and so on. What I want to know are your specific proposals in these areas.
- on relieving traffic congestion? Might you advocate free public transit ( much like the Riders will be providing) at specific times in the day and/or on specific routes. ?
I envision more roads accessing the East End of Regina, most notably the long-planned-but-never-
executed extension of Prince of Wales Drive to Wascana Parkway, and the extension from Ross Ave to Prince of Wales Drive in the North. Our current situation is absolutely unacceptable at the best of times, but when construction hits Victoria Avenue, Arcola Avenue, or Dewdney Avenue - or worse yet two or three at the same time - accessing East Regina is a gong show. Adding these two alternate routes will help alleviate that congestion and to me, they are common sense items that should have been done long ago. In addition, adding a third lane in both directions on Arcola Avenue, along with a proper merging lane from Ring Road onto Arcola Avenue that you don't have to come to a complete stop from 100km/h. Finally, in terms of Transit, what I want to see is increased ridership, and this can only be done by providing top-notch service. Current commute times can exceed two hours on the bus, and until this is remedied, it is futile to offer any other incentives to ride the bus. I think the solutions are there, we just need a City Council that is willing to invest in a viable solution. I have committed to having "Free Ride Fridays" as well, in order to increase ridership once we have a service that we can be proud of. Ideally, this will encourage more people to try transit, and hopefully that will translate to increased ridership long term. Any revenues that might be lost on those days could be considered research costs, or they could be offset by a corporate sponsor.
- in terms of sustainable development, plastic shopping bags are currently not recyclable. Would you favour of banning them, as some communities have done, if they can not be made a recyclable item?
I strongly encourage the use of reusable shopping bags as much as one can do. To me, they are the long-term, environmentally responsible solution. With that said, I know there will always be that time you forget your bag, and then we must look at an environmentally responsible alternative. It is my understanding there are plans in the works in the recycling industry to feasibly recycle plastic bags. However, until such time, what is the alternative? An outright ban? Paper bags? I think the financial 'penalty' is one solution that many stores have implemented. I would like to see this possibly be a higher fee, which can be diverted to local recycling initiatives. That being said, I know I don't have all the answers on this, but I would look to citizens like yourself for input on what you feel is the best solution to a problem that is growing, thanks to our awareness of the environment.
- in regard to ”...proper planning for our urban growth....” what are your views on urban expansion in the Regina bypass area?
I have attended City Council and delegated on this very issue, and I feel very strongly that public consultation has been extremely poor on the Southeast Neighbourhood Plan, and I have pushed for further public consultation before it got approved. I think we need to have a comprehensive plan in place where we know where the next group of residences will be built before we allow another subdivision to be built. There is no reason we cannot have a 5, 10, or 25 year plan for this as developers should be aware of the need for proper planning, both from a community perspective, but also from an infrastructure perspective. It is really concerning to me that the City Administration had clear warnings about their concern for the inability to service the 17,500 new residences along the new Bypass, and yet City Council had no problem rubber stamping the approval. This is both irresponsible and damaging to our City as a whole.
- in terms of “transparency”, would you advocate that any councillor recuse him or her self in any instance where a council motion would benefit a campaign contributor of that councillor?
I cannot tell you how much I support this initiative. I am a strong believer in transparency, and if a Councillor is in a position that the average person would perceive them to be in a Conflict, they should recuse themselves from the vote, no questions asked. As it sits right now, the reliance is on the Councillor to determine if they are in a Conflict, and even at that, the average citizen has to file a court application to express their concerns about any potential Conflict. I want to ensure that the public are aware of all major contributors to all current City Councillors and remind them of these at every meeting. While the general public may not push the Councillors to declare a Conflict, I would think this would add a layer of guilt to those Councillors, and they would be more inclined to recuse themselves as such.