I’ve been asked how I would help advance the North Central Community Plan and ensure that people in that community have a voice. For starters, I have a strong track record of working closely with community associations and often use existing neighbourhood plans to guide my decisions at Council. I’ve also started working with the Downtown and Centre Square neighbourhoods to set up new community associations so that residents have a stronger voice in Regina. My track record on this is clear. But what else will I do?
Both the North Central Community Association Action Plan and the North Central Neighbourhood Plan provide clear direction for staff and elected officials, so we need to start there. The number one word that stemmed from the engagement sessions is community, so that’s the foundation of future policies. Addictions and gangs are raised as number one problems in North Central. Already, I’ve advanced an Addictions Crisis motion at Council, which aims to put the City in a leadership role when it comes to bringing experts, users, health experts, and community based organizations to the table when it comes to tackling this complex issue.
Gangs are also a serious problem. Gang diversion initiatives involve meaningful employment programs, access to educational services, and community supports. This takes partnerships between organizations, like RTSIS (Regina Treaty/Status Indian Services), the City, and provincial agencies to ensure that all levels are involved in building solutions. Employment is a big part of this, which is why I helped to secure start-up funds for the WHAM! program run out of the Street Culture Project. There are a lot of examples in the community for us to draw from.
Poverty and affordability is a huge issue, too. That’s why I successfully advanced a low-income utility motion to help mitigate the costs of water – which should be considered a human right. This is also why I’ve made living wage policies, affordable housing, and homelessness my leading priorities on Council.
Absentee landlords and abandoned properties are a serious issue, as well. That's why I’ve worked with Bylaw Enforcement and the Housing Standards Enforcement Team (HSET) to ensure that these properties are dealt with swiftly. Slumlords deserve no sympathy, but due process requires that the City follow proper legal channels to address this serious public safety issue. We also need to ensure that assistance is offered to well-meaning landlords who do right by their community but have properties damaged or destroyed by tenants.
North Central residents, like everyone else in Regina, want and deserve quality recreation amenities and services. That means ensuring the re-build of Dewdney Pool when that facility’s lifespan expires. Spending money on rinks, skate parks, basketball courts, cricket pitches, and play structure is critical. It means properly investing in programs like PlayEscapes and offering support for initiatives run at the community level. City facilities and services, like transit, can be incorporated into the solutions. Adhering to the City’s commitment to Truth and Reconciliation fits in here. That means Indigenizing social, cultural, and recreational programs. It also means public art, street and park names that represent the peoples of this city.
Safety is a general concern, and one that can’t be solved with more police or police funding alone. That’s why I worked with Council colleagues to advance the Community Wellbeing and Public Safety strategy, which will be completed and discussed in 2021. Again, the City needs to play a leadership role, but at the same time ensuring that the municipality works with community members, community organizations, and the Regina Police Service.
Lighting is another issue residents have raised. A report that came before Community and Protective Services showed that back alley lighting doesn’t have a meaningful impact on crime or criminal behaviour, but it can provide comfort to residents. If the request comes in, I’ll bring back the report for community and Council debate. The North Central Community Association needs to be part of this discussion.
To that end, community associations are lifelines for many neighbourhoods. That’s why I championed increased community association funding and increases to the Community Grants program, which helps organizations provide important services to neighbourhoods like North Central.
Planning and mobility also need to improve. Making the streetscape more inviting, offering resources and support for community gardens, improving transit affordability and service, launching an express grocery shuttle, and making better use of empty lots and other under-utilized land are all part of the solution to problems identified in existing community plans. Food security also needs to be addressed, which is why a Healthy Food Transit Route needs to be established in the absence of a grocery store in the area.
But let’s not forget about other “bread and butter” issues like roads, bike lanes, and sidewalks. These concern everybody in the Queen City. Working with Regina Exhibition Association Limited, the Pasqua Hospital, and Sask Health Authority, and labour organizations representing health care staff at the hospital, I will push for the construction of a multi-use parking structure that will benefit residents attending events at Evraz Place and hospital workers, patients, and visitors. I worked on a similar initiative in the General Hospital neighbourhood.
To put it succinctly, I’ve already made these issues priorities in my first four years on council, with great success. The next four years will mean ensuring that all of the communities that make up Ward 3 get the same attention.