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 (http://www.leaderpost.com/business/Regina+looks+other+Canadian+cities+inspiration+solve+housing/8380205/story.html). 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 (http://globalnews.ca/news/558805/regina-faces-a-parking-crunch-as-the-city-plans-to-increase-enforcement/). 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!