Further to my open letter to #RBE, another open letter to @PremierBradWall

the regina mom attended a public meeting with representatives of the Regina Board of Education regarding Ecole Connaught Community School.  The following open letter to the Premier follows the open letter to the RBE published in the Regina Leader Post earlier this week.

Dear Mr. Premier,

No doubt my constant challenges and snide remarks on Twitter are annoying to you and your staff.  That’s kind of the point, you know.  It was always tit-for-tat in my family of origin.  Yes, I do try to be a better person now, but sometimes I fall back into old patterns.

It seems the Regina Board of Education (RBE) is also falling back into old patterns.  Yet again, they’re trying to dupe the Cathedral community.  Through years of neglect, the RBE has created a crisis at Ecole Connaught Community School.  Two construction firms with which the RBE conducts regular business have declared the school to be in such terrible shape that the cost to fix it is prohibitive.  Yet, neither of those firms are known as experts in the area of heritage buildings.  In fact, both P3 Architects and J.C. Kenyon are known for their involvement in new builds in the province.  Are there no conflict of interest guidelines within the Ministries of Education or Highways & Infrastructure for local school boards to follow?

And so, based on questionable data, the RBE decided that a rebuild is the only option and will proceed to convince you and your government to fund it.  This is in direct opposition to what residents and the school community have requested.  The RBE has furthermore refused to work with the community and allow heritage conservationists, funded by private citizens, into the school to conduct tests and to provide expert opinions on the matter.  I therefore hold to what I stated in a March 2013 letter to you regarding this matter,

As a 25-year resident of the area I draw on my fundamental human right, as guaranteed by the United Nations, to insist you preserve the building. The real value of Connaught has not been properly assessed. The non-market aesthetic, cultural and other values of a refurbished school have not been properly accounted for. Furthermore, the environmental, social, and economic cost-benefit analysis of alternatives requested in public consultation meetings have not been addressed – in essence, the impacts of redevelopment on our community, our property values, our local businesses, our environment and other amenities such as the Connaught library have not been properly assessed nor communicated to local residents.

It is time for the Province of Saskatchewan to insist that the Regina Board of Education take its fiduciary responsibility seriously.  But to do so, the Province must take seriously its role as Steward of a nationally-recognized historic school.

Really, Mr. Premier, there is an easy fix for this.  Send the RBE back to the drawing board.  Otherwise, according to the rumblings I heard tonight, you’d best be prepared for lawsuits.  And, quite possibly, for me to fall back into old habits.

Sincerely,

B. L. Wagner
Regina SK

cc: Minister of Education
Deputy Minister of Education
Minister of Highways & Infrastructure
Deputy Minister of Highways & Infrastructure
Regina Board of Education Trustees
Regina Leader Post
Prairie Dog
Metro News
Save Our Connaught
Real Renewal

SWG’s Funding From #YQR Almost All Restored

the regina mom has been on retreat with a bunch of writers at her favourite monastery.  Yes, she knows it’s rather odd for a feminist to be hanging out with Catholic monks, but she finds their worship of the Virgin Mother to be very interesting…

 

Anywho, she has learned that the Saskatchewan Writers Guild has been granted special ‘transition funding’ amounting to 90 percent of what the City of Regina had provided before.  (Apparently, there are some readers on Council.)  Regardless what happens in the next go-round of grants, according to trm‘s source, the City of Regina Writing Award will be funded and may even be increased.   It’s been separated out from the ginormous pool of money being shared around amongst a bajillion cultural and social justice groups.

 

Well done, writers!  We can breathe a sigh of relief.  For now.

 

.

#YQR axes funding to Literary orgs

It appears to the regina mom that the City of Regina would rather fill that new pie in the sky, outrageously overpriced, not yet built football stadium with ticket-buyers than fund events for writers in the Queen City.  The Vertigo Series, Coteau Books and the Saskatchewan Writers Guild will receive nothing, as it stands. From the member newsletter, eBriefs:

SWG NEWS

City of Regina Slashes Literary Funding

For many years the Saskatchewan Writers’ Guild has successfully applied to the City of Regina for about $24,000 annually to assist with literary programming in Regina. This year, our funding request was denied in its entirety.

SWG is one of at least three literary organizations denied funding by the City of Regina grant program. Coteau Books and the Vertigo Reading Series have also been cut. The rationale provided for the cuts is that the SWG application “scored low in the area of community need.” We have been advised that SWG also scored low in the area of “financial need.”

Meanwhile, performance, film and music organizations that run festivals generating ticket sales have received more funding than in previous years.

The Saskatchewan Writer’s Guild has a rich history of literary programming in Regina, some of which we have provided for over thirty years. We offer a wide array of free programming to writers and the public, raise literary awareness, raise writers’ profiles, and enrich the lives of hundreds of people, including key identified targets of youth and Aboriginal constituents.

A new application process that groups all disciplines and former community grants into one is partly responsible for the cuts. The literary arts and the community will suffer heavily in Regina this coming year.

As a result of these cuts, beginning August 1st or earlier, the following Guild programs will be affected and/or suspended:

·         City of Regina Writing Award (sponsored by the City for 32 years)

·         Words in the Park (3 years)

·         Writer-in-Residence at a Regina school (10+ years)

·         First Nations Reading series (5+ years)

·         Signature Reading series (15+ years in various editions)

·         Aboriginal Storytelling Month (2 years)

·         Aboriginal History Day/Month (4 Years)

·         Talking Fresh (11 years)

·         Regina Workshops (25+ years)

·         Apprentice Readings (15+ years)

·         Windscript Launch (4 years)

·         Playwrights Reading series (5+ years)

·         Historic Walking Tours (4 years)

Guild staff will be meeting with the City Community Consultant responsible for the grant programs on Tuesday next week to see if there are any options for alternate funding. We will inform you of the results shortly thereafter.

We encourage you to contact Regina City Council to voice your concerns about literary arts being cut from cultural funding, and to raise their awareness that the literary community is strong and viable, and this programming serves an important community need. You may email Regina City Councillors and/or Mayor Michael Fougere at the following link:

http://www.regina.ca/site/contact/contact-your-city-councillor/

trm has already let her Councillor, Shawn Fraser, know about this abomination.  He’s a good guy and has not heard about it but is looking into it.  However, it would be very useful for people “from away” to chime in and let Mayor Fougere know how they feel about the big #YQR #fail!

An Open Letter to Premier Brad Wall Regarding Connaught School

As you are aware, dear Reader, the regina mom is not impressed with the Regina Public Schools Board of Education and their decision to tear down a 100 year-old school without benefit of a second opinion.  So, the regina mom, being who she is, sent a letter to the Premier and copied it far and wide.*

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Here’s the letter:

An Open Letter to Premier Brad Wall Regarding Connaught School March 16, 2013

Dear Premier Wall:

I understand that your government has received a request from the Regina Board of Education (RBE) to replace Connaught School. For a variety of reasons, I request that you deny it.

Before you is the opportunity to make a reckless decision or to invest in an integral piece of our history as a city and a province, as housed in that building. As a 25-year resident of the area I draw on my fundamental human right, as guaranteed by the United Nations, to insist you preserve the building. The real value of Connaught has not been properly assessed. The non-market aesthetic, cultural and other values of a refurbished school have not been properly accounted for. Furthermore, the environmental, social, and economic cost-benefit analysis of alternatives requested in public consultation meetings have not been addressed – in essence, the impacts of redevelopment on our community, our property values, our local businesses, our environment and other amenities such as the Connaught library have not been properly assessed nor communicated to local residents.

As well, the RBE’s renovation options as presented to the Ministry of Education appear to be over-costed and under-researched. Some RBE documents contain basic arithmetic errors in the thousands of dollars! A recommended investigation of the building’s structure was, to my knowledge, not completed, except for a basic visual assessment. In discussions with the Heritage community, I learned that the RBE made absolutely no effort to obtain the advice of experts in the assessment and repair of older buildings. Nor has an embodied energy study been conducted. Neither has the RBE requested comparable estimates, despite the Chair’s recent statement that the consultant’s report is a second opinion to her staff’s. In effect, the RBE has one estimate, provided by a company that specializes in new construction. Hard facts, then, do not underly the cost estimates.

RBE has done a less than impressive job of assessing redevelopment. The community consultation process was seriously flawed, conducted by a private firm that will likely bid on the new build. The recommendations in no way serve the school community, my Cathedral community, the residents of Regina or the people of Saskatchewan. The community input we gave through the consultation process has been disregarded and disparaged. This is in direct contravention of our community’s right to appropriate development strategies and equitable participation in decisions affecting heritage, as guaranteed under the ICOMOS Stockholm Charter, signed by Canada.

To demolish Connaught is to miss an exceptional opportunity to preserve our history. It is a cornerstone of the Cathedral Village and holds significant cultural and aesthetic value, a source of pride to past and current students, to residents and to all who pass by or enter its halls. That it be sent to the landfill is a disgrace and should be the absolute last resort of any administration!

I therefore support the demands, as articulated by the Save Our Connaught Committee which came into being on the March 3, 2013, that your government agree to the following:

  • An independent second opinion by experts in the field on the renovation versus new build option for Connaught School, based on thorough research, recommended studies and detailed unit costs. ‘Best guesses’ are a slap to the face of our joint cultural heritage.
  • A full and independent consideration of the environmental, social and economic costs and benefits of redevelopment options which includes proper consideration of the relative value of a new building versus a refurbished historic school must inform the decision.
  • The Ministry of Education and the Province of Saskatchewan must apply a more fiscally responsible, community-sensitive approach to school renovation in our community.
  • The Province must understand, acknowledge and take seriously its role as Steward of a nationally recognized historic school, on behalf of citizens of Saskatchewan and Canada.

I trust you will do the right thing. Thank you for your time and immediate attention to this matter.

Sincerely,

Bernadette L. Wagner

Regina SK

cc: Ms. Katherine Gagne, Chair, Regina Public Schools Board of Education

Honourable Kevin Doherty, Minister Responsible for Parks, Culture & Sport

Honourable Russ Marchuk, Minister Responsible for Education

Mr. Cam Broten, Leader of the Opposition

Mr. David Forbes, NDP critic for Education

Ms. Danielle Chartiere, NDP critic for Culture

Hon. John Nilson, MLA for Regina Lakeview

Save Our Connaught

Real Renewal

Regina Leader-Post

Prairie Dog Magazine

Metro News

CKTV

Global News

CBC-TV

CBC Radio

Radio Canada

Rawlco Radio

MBN Radio

Accidental Deliberations

Saskboy’s Abandoned Stuff

.

* Email addresses should you care to follow suit:  citydesk@leaderpost.com, ckck@ctv.ca, globalnews.reg@globaltv.com, Jacob.Zehr@globalnews.ca, Jdedekker@leaderpost.com, direction@accesscomm.ca, mwood@rawlco.com, news@620ckrm.com, news@mbcradio.com, ponops@hotmail.com, regina@metronews.ca, saskboy@gmail.com, sasknews@cbc.ca, sheila.coles@cbc.ca, tjsask@radio-canada.ca, kdoherty@mla.legassembly.sk.ca, rmarchuk@mla.legassembly.sk.ca, cbroten.mla@sasktel.net, dforbesmla@sasktel.net, saskatoonriversdale@ndpcaucus.sk.ca, gagne@accesscomm.ca, saveourconnaught@gmail.com, realrenewal@gmail.com,<j.nilson.mla@sasktel.net>, greg@gregfingas.com, <carlabeck@sasktel.net>

Too much politics all at once

Really, the regina mom thinks she should take up juggling.  She’d be good at it, given her propensity to deal with many things at once.  Oh, sure, the kids have moved out and she’s not juggling their lives in with hers as much as she used to, but it seems that other things have moved into her life and she’s throwing them around, too.

Last week, this ridiculous idea of a Public-Private Partnership (P3) that the HarperCons have set up to help their friends make more money municipalities deal with infrastructure issues, in this case Regina’s wastewater issues came to the fore.  In an email conversation with City Councillor Wade Murray, the regina mom learned that Councillor Murray doesn’t much like public involvement in such issues.  From that conversation:

I am open to dialog and learning of the alternatives, for until the moment the question is called, I reserve my decision. It’s unfortunate that people only get involved just before the decision is to be made. We have been discussing this for 2 years, it was a topic through the election, but no one really seemed to care at that time, all of a sudden it’s time to get involved.

the regina mom really doesn’t remember a single Councillor making an issue of this during the campaign, do you, dear Reader?  And now, at tonight’s Council meeting, they approved going ahead with it. Unanimously.

At close of business on Friday the Regina Board of Education announced via its Agenda for the Tuesday, February 26 meeting that it’s considering the wrecking ball for Ecole Connaught Community School, the oldest school in Regina that’s still used as a school.  the regina mom‘s kids attended there, as did her 86 year-old mother-in-law! The irony is that at tonight’s City Council meeting, the Connaught Centennial Committee and the kids who put on a spectacular array of events to celebrate the school’s 100th anniversary last year, received a Municipal Heritage Award.

Real Renewal, the group that came together a few years ago when school closures were all the rage has come forward to speak out against this ridiculous plan.  The group has raised questions in 13 different areas and, being the helpful political activist she is, the regina mom started a petition on Avaaz which you are welcome to sign.  At last look, there were 661 signatories on the petition requesting

That the Regina Board of Education delay the decision to demolish or retrofit Ecole Connaught Community School until the recommended studies and thorough and proper community consultation can be carried out.

It’s a long shot but here’s hoping that one of the oldest buildings in the city stands for many years to come.

And then there’s the Saskatchewan NDP Leadership contest, heading into the homestretch.  We on the Ryan Meili/Erin Weir team are working hard to GOTV, contacting hundreds of voters who have not yet cast their ballots.  It’s going to be close and thus, interesting, come the March 9 convention in Saskatoon.  We’ll either have the same-old New Democratic Party or we’ll have a New Democratic Party that will change the conversation in Saskatchewan politics.

On top of the political work the regina mom does, there’s her volunteer work with the Sage Hill Writing Experience and the Cathedral Village Arts Festival.  Oh, and her writing career!

A story, unfolding.

Perhaps URcomm attempted cutesy-fartsiness when it posted this video as a news story on the front page of the University of Regina’s website.

 

the regina mom thinks it’s kinda hurtin’ to see that there, especially when there are hard times at the U of R.  An Academic Program Review that was done cheaply and poorly, rejigging by the Administration and reduced funding from the right wing Wall government have forced cuts across the board within the institution (even though The Premier Himself says the province’s economy is booming).

However, certain faculties at the U of R will face deeper cuts to their budgets because the research dollars they bring in are lower than those of other faculties.  It seems, then, that Arts, Fine Arts and the Humanities faculties — the fundamental pieces of any university education — are under attack.  And the regina mom finds that to be very sad, especially because the U of R was once regarded as one of the most progressive institutions in the country.

It strikes the regina mom rather hard right now because she’s been hearing from her daughter, a student at the University of Ottawa, about the Orientation Week activities on that campus.  In particular, the regina mom is excited about the Alt101 activities, offering up something a little more real to students.

No doubt, student groups at the U of R are doing their best to be real with new students, too.  With an administration that treats new students to meaningless tripe such as the video above, it’s not gonna be hard.

Check out the Facebook page, Community Support for U of R Arts, Fine Arts & Humanities Programs, for the story as it unfolds.

Good Grief, Regina Public Library!

the regina mom is short on time to write background for this at the moment.

Dear Reader,

This is to advise you that, as a citizen of Regina, I call for the resignation of each member of the Regina Public Library’s Board of Directors. The power granted to them through our municipal system of governance and the grace of the citizens of Regina must be ended. The Board’s treatment of our library workers is abhorrent!

The people who use our library system, most especially our children, love their library workers. Our communities and community organizations love our library workers. Here, in Cathedral, the library staff were an important part of the success of the Cathedral Village Arts Festival. Throughout Regina, the library staff help us, our children and our communities continue to learn and grow. In a time of prosperity, we should be showering them with raises, not killing them with cuts and clawbacks!

The RPL Board must step down or get back to the bargaining table!

Sincerely,

Bernadette L. Wagner
thereginamom.com
thereginamom@sasktel.net
@thereginamom
306.550.7023

Taking time to celebrate IWD

iwd poster

Celebrating the Arts on

International Women’s Day

7:30 pm Thursday March 8 @ The Artesian

Intercultural Grandmothers Uniting ~ Sacred Web Sask ~ Brenda Niskala ~ Susana Deranger ~ Mirtha Rivera ~ Cassidy McFadzean ~ Belle Plaine ~ Tara Solheim ~ All Beings Confluence Art Installation & more

All Proceeds to the Provincial Association of Transition Houses and Services of Saskatchewan

Tickets By Donation ($50 Suggested)

.

.

Doors Open 7pm
Program Begins 7:30pm

Cash Bar

Produced by the regina mom
bprintink (at) sasktel (dot) net
306.550.7023

ACTION: Support Occupy Regina

Mayor Fiacco’s minions want to shut down Occupy Regina.  We can say a loud, No!

 

Anyone can offer support to Regina’s Occupiers by taking part in the actions, below.  Background info further down.

Reginans can Rally @ City Hall: Noon, Wednesday, November 9.

–Bern


ACTIONS

Write to City Hall through their contact page at,
http://regina.ca/page368.aspx
Also, contact the Mayors office, Email: pfiacco@regina.ca, Phone: 777-7339  Fax:  777-6824, ask those 2 questions and demanding that they return it to us. You can’t leave phone messages with city hall/mayors office anymore, have to phone from 8:30-4:30 weekdays. Also, sign the online petition at
http://www.thepetitionsite.com/4/stop-the-eviction/  

Please and thankyou.
Daniel Johnson

BACKGROUND

——– Original Message ——–

Bylaw officers from the City of Regina have unofficially requested that the
occupyregina camp be shut down under threat of enforcement of
unconstitutional bylaws. We will be holding two meetings tomorrow at 2pm and
5:30pm to discuss our response which will be presented at a rally at city
hall Wednesday at noon.

Up until a few days ago, we had an overused camp toilet for people to use
at night. This was good at the beginning, but as our numbers grew it became
impractical. Then the Council Of Canadians generously rented us a proper
portapotty.

Thus, a potential hygeinic nightmare was averted… then earlier today city
bylaw enforcement came and took the portapotty away, citing some health
concern but not answering the 2 main questions…

How does the portapotty at Occupy Regina constitute a health violation when
the same portapotties are commonly used at festivals in the same park, as
well as on construction sites everywhere, and how can it be more of a health
concern than the situation that could develop from our NOT having one?

It has also been brought to our attention that the power cut off by the city
to the park is donated by SaskPower(a crown corp. owned by the people),
which means that the power wasn’t costing taxpayers a cent yet was cut off
leaving campers without power.
If you’d like to know too, contact city hall and ask them.

Write to City Hall through their contact page at,
http://regina.ca/page368.aspx
Also, contact the Mayors office, Email: pfiacco@regina.ca, Phone: 777-7339 Fax:  777-6824, ask those 2 questions and demanding that they return it to us. You can’t leave phone messages with city hall/mayors office anymore, have to phone from 8:30-4:30 weekdays. Also, sign the online petition at
http://www.thepetitionsite.com/4/stop-the-eviction/  

Please and thankyou.
Daniel johnson

Anyone can offer support to Regina’s Occupiers by taking part in the actions, below.  Background info further down.

Reginans can Rally @ City Hall: Noon, Wednesday, November 9.

–Bern


ACTIONS

Write to City Hall through their contact page at,
http://regina.ca/page368.aspx
Also, contact the Mayors office, Email: pfiacco@regina.ca, Phone: 777-7339
Fax:  777-6824, ask those 2 questions and demanding that they return it to
us. You can’t leave phone messages with city hall/mayors office anymore,
have to phone from 8:30-4:30 weekdays. Also, sign the online petition at
http://www.thepetitionsite.com/4/stop-the-eviction/  Please and thankyou.
Daniel Johnson

BACKGROUND

——– Original Message ——–

Bylaw officers from the City of Regina have unofficially requested that the
occupyregina camp be shut down under threat of enforcement of
unconstitutional bylaws. We will be holding two meetings tomorrow at 2pm and
5:30pm to discuss our response which will be presented at a rally at city
hall Wednesday at noon.

Up until a few days ago, we had an overused camp toilet for people to use
at night. This was good at the beginning, but as our numbers grew it became
impractical. Then the Council Of Canadians generously rented us a proper
portapotty.

Thus, a potential hygeinic nightmare was averted… then earlier today city
bylaw enforcement came and took the portapotty away, citing some health
concern but not answering the 2 main questions…

How does the portapotty at Occupy Regina constitute a health violation when
the same portapotties are commonly used at festivals in the same park, as
well as on construction sites everywhere, and how can it be more of a health
concern than the situation that could develop from our NOT having one?

It has also been brought to our attention that the power cut off by the city
to the park is donated by SaskPower(a crown corp. owned by the people),
which means that the power wasn’t costing taxpayers a cent yet was cut off
leaving campers without power.
If you’d like to know too, contact city hall and ask them.

Write to City Hall through their contact page at,
http://regina.ca/page368.aspx
Also, contact the Mayors office, Email: pfiacco@regina.ca, Phone: 777-7339
Fax:  777-6824, ask those 2 questions and demanding that they return it to
us. You can’t leave phone messages with city hall/mayors office anymore,
have to phone from 8:30-4:30 weekdays. Also, sign the online petition at
http://www.thepetitionsite.com/4/stop-the-eviction/  Please and thankyou.
Daniel johnson

And so it goes: Yahoos on the prairies.

I suppose some folks think that the regina mom is a yahoo cuz she’s shooting off her mouth all the time. Really, she hasn’t had a lot of time for that cuz she has spent the past year and a bit marketing her book of poetry, This hot place from B.C. to Ontario. (And she hopes to go further east with it this fall/winter.)

For now, however, a comment on the bunch of yahoos at the Regina Downtown Business Improvement District is in order. Their censorship of an event that had been scheduled for Regina’s downtown park is just ridiculous! The event, “Profs in the Park”, was to be just that: a series of lectures/talks by University of Regina professors.

But one prof’s lecture title got the yahoos tongues wagging. Assistant Professor, Emily Eaton, was to speak on “Solidarity with Palestine: The Case for Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions Against Israel.” But, according to the local daily newspaper, “the Regina Downtown Business Improvement District (RDBID) told University of Regina professor Emily Eaton to change her lecture topic or her appearance at the Victoria Park event would be cancelled.”

Rather than condone censorship, the professors canceled the full series in the park, changed its name, and moved it to a local artist-run centre, Neutral Ground.

RDBID said it wasn’t their fault and Macleans magazine has yet another opportunity to smear the Queen City. Deservedly so, this time. Attacks on freedom of expression anywhere in the city, or the country for that matter, should never be tolerated.

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