Presentation to Council Re. Maple Leaf Pool Closure – Dec. 10 2018

It is not an overstatement to say that Heritage residents are devastated and outraged by the planned closure of Maple Leaf Pool. It is frustrating that it has gotten to the point of immediate closure without there being a succession plan. We’ve all known for many years that Maple Leaf Pool was getting old and run down. It is hard to understand why the City did not engage our community in creating a plan for its replacement sooner. There’s nothing we can do about this fact now, so I don’t want to dwell on it. But the City does have other outdoor pools that are the same age as Maple Leaf, and I want to strongly recommend that Council and City staff begin talking now about the future of those facilities, so that those communities do not experience the gap in services that Heritage is about to experience.

Maple Leaf Pool receives an average of 134 visitors a day. These numbers are not declining; they have remained roughly the same over at least the last 5 years according to numbers provided to me by City administration. Throughout the summer, this represents roughly 11,000 visits.

As the only rec facility in our neighbourhood, Maple Leaf Pool is a lifeline for many families and individuals. Many children spend all day every day at that pool, providing them with safe, supervised recreation while their parents or guardians work or take care of younger children. One third of Heritage families are single-parent families, and the pool is a major support for these, and all families, while school is out.

The pool is also well used by seniors, may of whom live in one of several nearby seniors complexes.

With heat waves becoming more common, the pool acts as a neighbourhood cooling centre on the hottest days, especially for people whose apartments or homes don’t have AC.

I have spoken to Police Chief Evan Bray about the potential impact of the pool closure on crime and safety in our neighbourhood. He agrees that the pool is vital to keeping people – especially youth – engaged in safe, positive activities during the summers, and shares our concerns that its closure may be damaging to the safety of our neighbourhood. Chief Bray is here today and available to answer questions if you have any.

In a neighbourhood and a city that can often feel very divided by socio-economic and racial lines, Maple Leaf Pool offers a central, neutral meeting place where people from all backgrounds and ages play, exercise, make friends, and socialize with one another. It is a community hub, and a treasured neighbourhood resource, whose benefits extend far beyond recreation and physical health.

This is about more than losing an option for leisure; residents’ concerns are coming from a place of real fear for the health and safety of their families and our neighbourhood, and also from a place of deep pride and appreciation for what is an exceptional asset to our community.

The Core Neighbourhood Sustainability Action Plan, endorsed by the City in 2012, calls for the rehabilitation of Maple Leaf Pool, or the building of a new recreation facility and pool on that site. It states: “Maple Leaf pool is a valued and well-used community gathering space. Investigating opportunities to use sustainable energy to heat the pool would offset operation costs and set a great example of sustainable development in the neighbourhood.”

The City’s own Official Community Plan identifies “complete neighbourhoods” as a key Community Priority, which it defines as “safe and inclusive neighbourhoods that are easy to get around and that have a mix of housing choices, amenities, and services.” The Plan explicitly identifies recreation as one of the “daily lifestyle needs” that residents of a neighbourhood should have easy access to as part of a “complete neighbourhood.” Maple Leaf Pool is the only recreation facility in our neighbourhood. Decommissioning it will mean we have none.

Within the OCP, our neighbourhood is identified as an Intensification Area, where the City wants to encourage development and population growth. Removing one of our neighbourhood’s most prized assets is not conducive to attracting more people to the area.

The OCP also calls for the City to “Ensure access to a variety of recreation programs and services in all neighbourhoods” and to “Study the application of new financing strategies and development incentives to provide, maintain and operate recreation facilities.” One of the stated objectives of the Core Neighbourhood Plan within the OCP is “to enhance community based recreation to meet the needs of Core Neighbourhood residents.”

We appreciate the City’s offer of programming in our neighbourhood to meet some of the needs left behind by the pool, but programming will not replace the unstructured, drop-in recreation opportunities and community hub that a pool provides.

The City’s current plan calls for the pool to be replaced by another outdoor recreation facility — or mix of facilities — that costs much less to build and maintain and will likely be unsupervised. The proposed timeline means that facility wouldn’t be built for at least 4 or 5 years. We believe strongly that the City needs to keep the value of Maple Leaf Pool in the Heritage neighbourhood; if a pool costs $4M to re-build, we do not want to see the cost of that removed from our neighbourhood and re-invested in a city-wide facility. We also believe strongly that 4 or more years is too long for our neighbourhood to wait for another recreation facility; even 1 year will have a significant impact on our community.

We respectfully request that the City invest in re-building the pool, with a goal of re-opening it by summer 2020. We also request that, in 2019 (or until Maple Leaf Pool re-opens), there be free transportation and admission to Wascana Pool for residents of Heritage and Al Ritchie, and an investment in programming in Heritage.

We have nothing against a destination aquatic facility in Wascana Park — we suspect many of our residents may enjoy it from time to time — but a leisure facility of that nature should not happen at the expense of a vital neighbourhood asset like Maple Leaf Pool. Maple Leaf Pool needs to be prioritized, and if that means the Wascana facility is delayed while the City raises additional funds, we believe that’s a much smaller sacrifice than the cost of our community being without a recreation facility for several years.

Regardless of Council’s decision tonight, I want to emphasize that the Heritage Community Association is eager to continue working with City staff on making sure the recreation needs of our neighbourhood are met to the best of our collective ability. We have offered to work together to access capital grants that are available for community-based facilities like this. We appreciate the City’s willingness to engage us in next steps, and look forward to working together to make the best of this difficult situation.

-Shayna Stock, Executive Director, Heritage Community Association

Call for Submissions: Heritage Happenings

photo of Spring 2017 newsletterThe Heritage Community Association’s print newsletter, Heritage Happenings, is seeking story ideas for its Fall 2017 issue!

Heritage Happenings is published 2-3 times per year and circulated to all households and businesses in the neighbourhood. It publishes stories on any subject relevant to Heritage residents. For our Fall issue, we are seeking:

  • a round-up of food offerings in the neighbourhood (eg. “11th Ave. Eats”)
  • reports on recent events in municipal, provincial, or federal politics that will impact Heritage residents
  • poetry on issues relevant to the neighbourhood
  • interesting photos that tell a story about how you experience the neighbourhood
  • maybe you have another idea that we haven’t thought of yet!

In order to submit your story idea, email heritage.director@sasktel.net or call 306-757-9952 before August 1. First drafts will be due August 7 (somewhat negotiable if needed).

And please share this Call for Submissions far and wide!

Regina neighbourhood sends welcoming message to newcomers

UPDATE: We are now out of signs until further notice. Thanks to all 1000 of you who took one home!

IMG_2335In response to Islamophobia in both Canada and the United States a Regina neighbourhood association has created lawn signs so that people throughout the city can show their support to their Muslim neighbours and help newcomers feel welcome.

The signs written in English and Arabic read “I’m glad we’re neighbours”. It’s a simple phrase with a powerful message of acceptance and welcoming.

The Heritage neighbourhood has always been a place that people from all over the world call home. Because Regina is on Treaty Four Territory we felt it was important to feature Cree and Saulteaux prominently on the sign. The Cree word Tawâw translates into “Come In. There is room.”

The Heritage Neighbourhood (formerly Core) was once known as Germantown, and 11th Avenue was home to Regina’s Chinatown. The neighbourhood is home to several cultural centres including the German Club, The Chinese Cultural Society of Saskatchewan, the Canadian Serbian Cultural Club, St. Anthony’s Polish Hall and the Ukrainian Cultural Centre. It is also home to many different faith groups including offering services in various languages, the Regina Immigrant Women’s Centre, and many longstanding restaurants and shops specializing in food from around the world (Italian Star Deli, Korean House, Ngoc Van, Ukrainian Co-op).

The yard signs are available in time for Mosaic, a festival that celebrates different cultures in Regina. The signs feature the word Welcome in: Punjabi, Tigrinya (Eritrea/Ethiopia), Arabic, Burmese, Ukrainian, Chinese, German, English, Arabic, Cree, Saulteaux, Korean, French, Spanish, Vietnamese, Polish, Hindi, Serbian, Swahili, Urdu, Romanian, and Italian.

While lawn signs will not address the root causes of racism and hate in our city, the Heritage Community Association hopes this initiative can be part of their broader anti-racist efforts in the neighbourhood.

This weekend the HCA is hosting a Sign Blitz.

Volunteers will be putting up signs around the neighbourhood and encouraging people from all over Regina to come and pick up some signs and spread them throughout their neighbourhoods.

The signs are free to residents of the Heritage Neighbourhood and available by donation to people, businesses and organizations outside the neighbourhood (suggested donation is $10 per sign). All proceeds go to the Good Neighbour Community Grant program, which funds creative projects proposed by Heritage residents.

Signs will be available by pickup at the Heritage Community Association Office (#100 – 1654 11th Avenue) on Saturday June 3rd from 10am -1pm while supplies last.

They will also be available for pickup during office hours: Mon-Wed 1-5pm.

For more information, e-mail Shayna Stock at heritage.director@sasktel.net.

Regina has a rich history of welcoming people from all over the world. Let’s send a message that Regina is a welcoming place and that we are stronger because of our diversity. Get your sign today!

Job Posting: Program Coordinator

June 30 – Sept. 1, 2017 (9 weeks)
30 hours/week
Wage: $16/hour

The Heritage Community Association has an exciting job opportunity for a returning student looking to gain experience with a wide variety of community-based programming. Our Program Coordinator will help to run a program for Two-Spirit youth, a mural-painting project, a neighbourhood festival, and other community outreach efforts.

Responsibilities:

Reporting to the Heritage Community Association’s Executive Director, the Program Coordinator will:

  1. Help to run a Two-Spirit youth group – providing a safe space for young Two-Spirit community members to build community with one another, including:
    • Support with promotions and recruitment
    • Arrange snacks and prepare space for weekly meetings
    • Participate in weekly meetings
    • Compile a Two-Spirit resource library to be housed at the HCA
    • Help with research on future program development
  2. Support in the planning of our annual neighbourhood celebration, the Harvest Moon Festival, to be held on September 9 2017, including:
    • Participate in planning discussions
    • Help to book artists and workshop presenters
    • Help with sponsorship and permit applications
    • Outreach to neighbourhood businesses
    • Promotions
  3. Support in the implementation of a neighbourhood mural project, including:
    • Outreach to neighbourhood businesses
    • Participate in project meetings
    • Help to promote and document the project
  4. Coordinate the regular maintenance of Art Park and container gardens along 11th, including:
    • Schedule, organize and promote Art Park work bees
    • Organize volunteers to help maintain container gardens and other aspects of the streetscape along 11th Avenue

Qualities and Skills Sought:

– As per Canada Summer Jobs funding criteria, applicants must be full-time students, aged 15 to 30, and intending to return to studies in the next school year
– Priority will go to applicants who identify as Two-Spirit, LGBTQIA+, and/or Indigenous
– Self-motivated and capable of taking initiative; strong leadership skills
– Experience organizing events or programs, especially with/for youth
– Strong interpersonal and verbal communication skills
– Familiarity with social media platforms including Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter
– Capacity to conduct research, write basic reports, and maintain accurate records
– Familiarity with the Heritage neighbourhood and/or other inner city Regina neighbourhoods an asset

Successful applicants must provide a Criminal Record Check; a criminal record will not impact your eligibility unless it raises concern about the safety of any children or finances left in your care.

Please submit resume and cover letter to heritage.director@sasktel.net by Noon on Friday, June 2, 2017.

Job Posting: Event Coordinator

June 12 – Sept. 29, 2017 (16 weeks)
Part-time (average of 19 hours/week)
Wage: $17/hour

The Heritage Community Association has an exciting job opportunity for someone who likes organizing and values cultural diversity, art, and local community! We are seeking a Coordinator for our Harvest Moon Festival – an annual neighbourhood celebration to be held on September 9, 2017.

Responsibilities:
Identify potential partners, sponsors and donors (e.g. local businesses, corporate sponsors, community organizations);
– Complete sponsorship applications and maintain sponsorship records;
– Work with the Executive Director to coordinate all marketing and communications for the festival (including creation and distribution of materials and creating content for website and social media);
– Recruit and manage volunteers;
– Any other duties/activities related to the Festival to ensure the successful staging of a multicultural community festival.

Qualities and Skills Sought:
– Experience planning and promoting events and/or managing volunteers;
– Self-directed, independent worker with effective time-management skills;
– Strong written and verbal communication skills;
– Excellent interpersonal skills, can connect with strangers and professionals in a friendly manner;
– Computer skills (Internet, word processing, spreadsheets);
– Adept at using social media including Twitter, Facebook and Instagram;
– Connection to the Heritage Community preferred.

Please submit resume and cover letter to heritage.director@sasktel.net by 4pm on Wednesday, May 31, 2017.

 

HCA Response to Carmichael’s Rezoning Application

 

The following is the letter we submitted to the City in response to Carmichael Outreach’s application to rezone the building on the corner of 12th Avenue and St. John St. More information on the application can be found here.

December 13, 2016

To City of Regina staff, Planning Commission, and Council:

We are writing in response to the proposed Zoning Amendment (16-Z-17) – 1510 12th Avenue.

This proposal, and the potential re-location of Carmichael Outreach to this property, has raised a significant amount of conversation in our neighbourhood. We have been listening to all of it, and have attempted to capture its breadth in our response.

Community Feedback

Carmichael Outreach is an integral part of our neighbourhood, serving our City’s most vulnerable people. Nearly all of the community feedback we have received is in support of Carmichael staying in the neighbourhood and expanding their services. There has been wide acknowledgement by Heritage community members that Carmichael’s work is important and welcome in our neighbourhood.

Most of the feedback we have received from community members has been in support of Carmichael’s application to re-zone and move into the building at 1510 12th Avenue. They are excited about the possibility of the long-vacant building being renovated and made useful and vibrant again. They want Carmichael to be able to expand and improve the quality and dignity of their services, and they see this property as being a suitable new home for the organization.

We have also heard from a handful of residents, most of whom live in the immediate vicinity of the property in question, who are opposed to Carmichael moving to this location. The main concerns we have heard are: decreased property values (and a resulting increase in absentee landlords), increased crime and litter, and decreased safety. Among the neighbours who oppose the move are a couple that has indicated to us that they experience barriers to employment and are counting on their house for their retirement savings, a retiree who lives alone on a fixed income, and a single parent of three young children. Some of these people have lived on the block for over a decade, and have seen it change from mainly rental properties with absentee landlords (including houses with gang activity and drugs) to mainly owner-occupied homes. They are worried that Carmichael’s move will be detrimental to their quality of life, their safety, and their futures. We understand that these possibilities are frightening to some residents, and we have considered their concerns very carefully in developing our response to this application.

Research on Community Members’ Concerns

Our research on property values has turned up no evidence that Carmichael’s move will necessarily result in lower property values in the immediate vicinity. Property values depend on many factors and are difficult to predict. While we found little to no research on the impact of non-shelter homelessness service organizations like Carmichael, studies on the impact of shelters and supportive housing (affordable housing with additional supports for formerly homeless people) indicate that they have either a positive impact on property values in the surrounding area, or none at all. [i]

Regarding crime and safety, the Regina Police Services report that Carmichael has relatively few calls for service. Carmichael staff have a good relationship with their clients, and their clients do not tend to commit crimes in the immediate vicinity of the organization. There is also no evidence to suggest that the people who use Carmichael’s services are dangerous to neighbours or passersby.

With concern to litter including needles, the Regina Qu’Appelle Health Region reports that the needle exchange program run out of Carmichael has a 99.97% return rate, meaning nearly all of the clean needles they hand out are returned to their facility and properly disposed of. Carmichael also holds regular Community Clean-Ups, during which their staff and volunteers pick up litter including needles throughout the neighbourhood.

Finally, regarding traffic, it is true that the re-location of Carmichael would bring higher numbers of people into the area surrounding their building. Their lunch program feeds about 200 people every day. It is likely, however, that based on the location of other services accessed by their clients, most of the traffic to/from Carmichael will enter/exit from the West of the building. It is unlikely that there will be a large increase in traffic to the North of the building along the residential 1800-block St. John St. Carmichael also predicts that having a larger space, and being able to serve meals indoors, will decrease the number of people congregating outside of the building.

Neighbourhood Plans & Studies

Our analysis of several neighbourhood plans and studies has given us many reasons to support this application.

The Core Neighbourhood Sustainability Action Plan recognizes that vacant and abandoned buildings are a major source of discontent in this neighbourhood and encourages the “adaptive re-use of buildings” in order to “preserve current infrastructure and the historical character of the neighbourhood” (under Strategy 3: Establish a long-term, sustainable housing strategy). The building at 1510 12th Avenue has been mainly unoccupied for several years. A 2008 study on Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design in our neighbourhood identifies vacant properties as a safety issue: “Auditors called for the reuse or redevelopment of vacant properties as a step toward improving the security of the neighbourhood.”

The Sustainability Action Plan also recognizes the need to “Expand current recreation facilities… To ensure that adequate recreation facilities are provided for Core residents (there is a strongly identified need for such facilities in the community, but currently there is no facility of an appropriate size to accommodate large gatherings, performances, and sports activities)” (Action 6 under Strategy 1: Strengthen Resident Engagement and Build Neighbourhood Capacity). Carmichael intends to lend the main floor of the building to other community organizations for holding events.

The Core Neighbourhood Sustainability Action Plan also encourages us to “Improve access to existing food programs” (Action 3 under Strategy 4: Enhance food security and provide access to quality food). The size of the building at 1510 12th Avenue will allow Carmichael’s clients to access and consume their food indoors, sitting down, rather than in take-away containers through a window at the back of the building as they currently do. This greatly enhances access to Carmichael’s existing food program.

Several Actions under Strategy 5 (Improve Safety & Reduce Crime) also support this application, including:

  • Action 1: “Support/enable community cleanup and maintenance.” Carmichael does regular community cleanups in the neighbourhood, picking up litter including needles from streets, parks and alleys.
  • Action 4: “Eliminate needle disposal on private and public property.” Carmichael’s needle exchange program provides people who use needles with a safe and easy way to dispose of used needles.
  • Action 6: “Secure resources for new or expanded programming (including consideration of harm reduction safe injection sites, needle exchange… etc.)”

In the 2010 Analysis of Survey Responses as presented by the HCA’s Urban Aboriginal Strategy, a survey of self-declared First Nations residents of the Heritage neighbourhood, 10.2% of respondents indicated that they access services through Carmichael Outreach, and 11.6% identified “Close to Services” as something that brought them to live in the neighbourhood. This evidence supports Carmichael staying in the neighbourhood.

Stance of the Heritage Community Association

Based on all of the feedback we have received, and on our analysis of neighbourhood plans and studies, the Heritage Community Association supports this application.

With our support comes a commitment to helping to facilitate ongoing communication between Carmichael and residents. If this application is approved, Carmichael would only be moving a short distance from their current location, but it is a significantly different location in terms of its immediate neighbours (from parking lots to residential properties).

Our 2008 study Core Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design provides important insight into the complexity of this neighbourhood:

“The mixed-use nature of the Core neighbourhood adds layers of complexity to these issues that would not be found in a more homogeneously residential or commercial neighbourhood. The mixture of residential, industrial, retail, and city properties create a complex situation when it comes to issues of crime prevention and safety in Core alleys… Because all these diverse areas exist side-by-side, they interact to varying degrees depending on traffic flow and proximity. Strategies to address the issues… must consider and work with the economic, social, and geographic diversity and complexity of the Core neighbourhood. Successful strategies will require the commitment and coordination of the various stakeholders.”

We encourage Carmichael to continue to pay very close attention to its impact on, and relationship with, its future neighbours. Immediate neighbours have some valid concerns, and Carmichael has a responsibility to be responsive to those. The Heritage Community Association hopes to support ongoing honest, open dialogue on the issues that have been raised by this application.

Carmichael is not responsible for the issues of crime, addictions, and poverty that already exist in our city and neighbourhood, and should not be blamed for bringing these issues with them. Rather, they and their neighbours should consider themselves partners in addressing these issues together.

Sincerely,

Heritage Community Association Board of Directors

 

[i]The Impact of Supportive Housing on Surrounding Neighbourhoods: Evidence from New York City. Furman Center. November 2008. http://furmancenter.org/files/FurmanCenterPolicyBriefonSupportiveHousing_LowRes.pdf

Overcoming Community Opposition to Homelessness Sheltering Projects under the National Homelessness Initiative. Government of Canada. September 2003. http://www.urbancenter.utoronto.ca/pdfs/elibrary/NHINIMBY.pdf