The City of Regina has much to offer. As our population grows we have the opportunity to lead with creative solutions that allow our city to reach its full potential in a safe, sustainable, and healthy manner.
Ward 3 sits at the center of this booming city. With our culturally diverse, vibrant communities we have a great roll to play in making our city a great place to live, work, and play.
For the past several years, our City Council has focussed only on the taxation side of the equation, without giving proper attention to the quality and sustainability of services. The result is that we are falling behind. The current Council has been pinching pennies but they haven’t been spending the dollars effectively.
Here are some of my ideas to improve services for Regina citizens while still taking a responsible approach to municipal taxes and fees. I will be adding more over the course of the campaign.
Improved snow removal and street cleaning
As a letter carrier, I am well aware of how hazardous Regina streets and sidewalks become in the winter. In much of the city, residents are lucky if the snow is cleared from the streets once per winter. Ruts make it difficult for drivers to pull over to the side of the street or even to turn into their own driveways. And all too often, when the snow is finally cleared, it gets pushed up onto the sidewalks that homeowners have already cleaned themselves and creates hedgerows that are significant hazards for pedestrians.
For several years now, businesses, community groups and individual citizens have demanded a major overhaul of the city’s snow clearing policy, only to meet with blank stares and deaf ears. Every year, dozens of my Canada Post co-workers suffer debilitating injuries due to the current Council’s refusal to address this issue. And if it is dozens of letter carriers, how many pedestrians, how many seniors, how many children are being put at risk as well?
More and more Regina citizens are paying private contractors to pick up recycling. Clearly there is a demand for this service. Yet despite the results of a citizen consultation last year, the current Council has delayed on the introduction of curbside recycling, while adding a garbage collection charge which will shift the burden from higher value properties to lower value properties. If it were offered as a universal service, it could be accomplished more efficiently while helping to protect our environment. If the City of Prince Albert can offer universal curbside recycling, there is no reason that Regina cannot do the same
More reliable public transit
In the Macleans study, Regina scored “F” across the board for effectiveness of service, including the percentage of the population using the system and the percentage of commuters using the system to get to work. The reasons why become obvious when I talk to citizens. It simply takes too long, and outside of peak service periods, the time between busses is too great.
The existing hub and spoke system for designing bus routes makes sense if a person is travelling across the city or to the downtown core. But a person traveling a nearby subdivision may have to ride all the way downtown to make a connection. There are significant areas of Ward 3 where the nearest bus stop will be several blocks away. And the decision to have Sunday service run on a completely different set of routes adds confusion and hardly makes the system more attractive to the average citizen.
Efficient and reliable public transit is essential for low income families. It is also a more attractive option for workers commuting to and from their place of employment. The failure of our transit system to attract these potential riders not only detracts from the sustainability of the system, it increases traffic congestion and greenhouse gas emissions as well as increasing road maintenance costs.
We should be looking at creative alternatives, like having some of the routes based on a grid system instead of the current hub and spoke approach. We need to engage citizens to learn what they need and want in a transit system. And we need to promote transit as an efficient, reliable, environmentally friendly and cool thing to do.
Investing in public transit would, over time, be a money saving proposition for the city, as well as improving the air we all breathe.
Urban economic development in older neighbourhoods
There are a number of Regina neighbourhoods that need significant investment in infrastructure, housing and economic development. The particular challenges of North Central are well known. Similar challenges in the Heritage area get significantly less coverage. In both areas, there is a growing commitment by local residents to improve their own neighbourhood. We must continue to support these initiatives, but we also need to develop a long term plan for inner city neighbourhoods, including North Central, Heritage, and other vulnerable neighbourhoods.
As Councillor for Ward 3, I will obviously be particularly concerned with the needs of these neighbourhoods. However, this issue is not just about Ward 3 or Ward 6. And the needs of newer neighbourhoods, while different, cannot be ignored.
The most effective way to deal with these issues is to develop a comprehensive strategic plan for urban infrastructure and economic investment. To date, Council has been haphazard in its approach, largely responding to the requests of developers. We desperately need a plan that is focused on the needs of citizens, not maximizing developers’ profits.