Talks explore city issues
A new discussion series will encourage Reginans to get involved in shaping the planning policy and design of the city.
Part of the inspiration for Urbanity 101 was “understanding how critical the general public is in the development of a city,” said Chris Kailing, an architect and member of Regina Advocates for Design. The group has paired up with Regina Urban Ecology and the Saskatchewan Professional Planners Institute to host the series.
“If we just assume that our leaders are going to make the best decisions for us, we can only hope but be disappointed — and that’s not to say that leaders, specifically, they’re choosing to make the wrong decisions,” said Kailing. “What tends to happen is people treat public policy like technology: You only come out and speak against it if it’s going wrong.”
What Urbanity 101 hopes to do is educate residents about municipal planning and design best practices, and city hall’s current policy documents, as well as encourage them to advocate for the direction they want the city to take. The first session, to be held Thursday, focuses on the foundations of a successful, livable city.
“With everything that’s going to be happening in Regina as it grows, it’s a great time for people to be more engaged with how their city will be changing and thinking about that themselves,” said Graham Haines, a planner with the City of Regina who will be presenting at the event. (The session is not associated with the city, though, nor are the presenters speaking on behalf of the city.)
Haines said the more residents understand this topic and are involved in the city’s plans, the more effective those plans will be.
On Thursday, he will provide an overview of urban planning initiatives around the world, while his colleague Mike Cotcher will cover the city’s official community plan and other policies that present “opportunities” and “challenges” for the city.
Haines said “as much as we can sit in our office and make plans, nothing will ever happen if the community itself doesn’t engage with it, participate in the creation of that vision.”
Currently, Kailing thinks Reginans’ investment in the direction of the city is “fragmented.” He pointed to active community groups that have led hot-topic initiatives, like Water Watch, Save Our Connaught and Friends of the Regina Public Library. But he said these focus on core neighbourhoods.
“What about the rest of the city? How active are they? Are they interested in their urban environment? Because they utilize it on a regular basis,” he said.
Kailing hopes that by attending Urbanity 101 sessions, residents “feel more invested in their city, that they understand their voice is important, and they take a sense of pride and ownership in their city.”