6 NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS: WHAT REGINA CITY COUNCIL CAN DO TO MAKE REGINA A BETTER PLACE FOR ALL WHO DWELL HERE
1. Take action to eliminate homelessness.
Regina is experiencing a homelessness crisis, with more and more people relying on the shelter system, living on the street, double-bunking, or couch-surfing.
How did this happen? Rents went through the roof. Since 2006, they have doubled and they are still going up. People lost and continue to lose their housing.
During the municipal eletion, Mayor Michael Fougere repeatedly spoke of ending homelessness in Regina. In his own words: “We need to provide more housing and we need to end homelessness. Those are the major things I want to see happen.” These are encouraging words.
The City of Regina cannot solve all Regina’s housing problems, but there are measures the city can take that will go some way to addressing our city’s homelessness crisis. Here are two of them:
a) Allocate annually the equivalent of 20% of the Regina Police Service operating budget to affordable rental housing. For 2017, that would amount to about $15 million. Eliminating homelessness is a crime reduction strategy.
b) Work with the business community to purchase Sears Warehouse, and, with the help of NGOs and volutneer citizens, convert it into affordabe rental housing.
2. Bann the cosmetic use of pesticides.
Over 170 Canadian municipalities have banned the cosmetic use of pesticides. But not Regina. Here it is still legal to use dangerous pesticides in parks and on lawns and gardens. The city itself uses 2,4-D and Round Up.
According to the Canadian Cancer society, “Research linking pesticides to serious health issues is significant and growing. Leukemia and non-Hodgkin lymphoma, breast, brain, prostate… and other forms of cancer have all been linked to pesticides.”
3. Act on all the Truth and Reconciliation calls to action that apply to municipalities.
Kudos to the City of Regina for acting on call to action #75 and designating the Regina Indian Industrial School cemetery as Municipal Heritage Property.
The TRC report contains a number of other calls to action that apply to municipalities. For example:
#43: Implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as the framework for reconciliation.
#57: Provide education to public servants on the history of Aboriginal peoples, including the history and legacy of residential schools.
One small step the City of Regina could take toward answering these calls would be to sponsor the Kairos Blanket Exercise in Victoria Park to mark Canada’s 150th birthday.
Learn about the Blanket Exercise: kairosblanketexercise.org
4. Increase Regina Transit’s operating budget.
Public transit is the solution to many of our local problems—traffic congestion, the scarcity and cost of downtown parking—as well as part of the answer to a major gobal problem, climate change:
- Transit cuts carbon emissions.
- One bus load of passengers takes the equivalent of 40 vehicles off the road.
5. Join the Mayors For Peace movement
Mayors For Peace is an initiative of the mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the only cities ever to have experienced the terrible effects of nuclear warfare. Its goal is the abolition of nuclear weapons.
7,196 cities have already joined the movement. They include 105 Canadian cities—among them Saskatoon, Edmonton, Calgary, and Winnipeg.
In April 2016, Mayor Michael Fougere was invited to join Mayors For Peace. Nine months later, he still has the matter “under consideration.”
6. Adopt the Blue Dot Movement’s Declaration of Citizens’ Right to a Healthy Environment.
The Blue Dot refers to planet earth as seen from outer space. The Movement is an initiative of the David Suzuki Foundation.
When the Blue Dot motion calling on the City of Regina to respect citizens’ right to a healthy environment came before Regina City Council in January 2016, Council voted to postpone making a decision.
What kind of City Council does not want its city’s citizens to have a healthy environment? 144 other Canadian municipal governments have already passed the Blue Dot resolution.