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Caswell Hill

Expansion of services for 33rd Street Methadone Clinic

From the StarPhoenix

When staff at the 33rd Street pharmacy learned that lack of transportation hampered many of their 250 clients from seeing addictions counsellors, they approached the Saskatoon Health Region, offering to renovate and build a state-of-the-art methadone dispensing and distribution system.

“Because people have to come here to pick up their medication, the idea came up – ‘Is there any way we can help these people access services?’” Carlson said.

The health region agreed to lease the 800-square-foot clinic, which will have a counselling space, a doctor’s office and examination room, and a children’s play area.

It is expected to open around the end of April, said Tracy Muggli, director of mental health and addictions services for the health region.

I think this is a good step for the Health Region, Mayfair, and of course those that use the services.

A 33rd Street BID?

A great idea for Mayfair and Caswell Hill.  Story is by Charles Hamilton of The StarPhoenix.

When Nicola Tabb looks out the front door of her vintage clothing shop on 33rd Street, she sees a community ripe with potential.

This strip is home to one of Saskatoon’s most acclaimed bakeries, a handful of antique shops, a tattoo parlour, a hair salon and hardware stores.

While prostitution and drug use are still relatively common sights in the area, these few blocks on Saskatoon’s west side have all the makings, she said, of a place on its way to becoming this city’s up-and-coming neighbourhood.

“I get people coming in all the time saying, ‘Thank you for opening on 33rd. I love to support my local business.’ I’m not sure if I would have got that anywhere else in the city,” she said.

Tabb lives in Caswell Hill just a few blocks away from where she opened her store, Better Off Duds, eight months ago. Since then, she said, the community has embraced her and now she is just one of a number of local entrepreneurs keen on the idea of starting a business improvement district (BID) for 33rd Street.

Similar BIDs are already operating in the Broadway, downtown, Sutherland and Riversdale neighbourhoods. The idea of a BID, according to supporters, is to get community and business people actively engaged in development decisions affecting the neighbourhoods.

“You look at what 20th Street was 10 years ago even, and since the inception and development of the BID look at what happened to the neighbourhood. It’s a trendy, kitschy place now,” said Shannon Vinish, a former business owner who was instrumental in the area’s first attempt at forming a BID back in 2004.

BIDs operate in more than 1,400 business areas across North America. The organizations are funded primarily by a levy on business owner’s property taxes and work on lobbying different levels of government for things such as increased policing, street level improvements and zoning bylaws.

“It’s just a natural progression of an area turning in on itself and saying, ‘What happened, how did this happen and how do we fix it,’ ” said Randy Pshebylo, the executive director of the Riversdale BID, which has been active since 1990.

Pshebylo said BIDs can be an effective way of giving business members a voice in shaping the landscape of their community. His BID, for example, lobbied successfully for a limit on the number of pawn shops on 20th Street.

I am actually excited about this.  The Hudson Bay Park/Mayfair/Kelsey Woodlawn Community Association is revitalized, the Local Area Plan starts Thursday, and now a BID for 33rd Street?  These are all really good things happening in the area.

Walkable Streets are just for the rich?

From Good

Most Americans want to live in walkable neighborhoods, but only a fraction can afford it. Housing in places with easy access to stores, restaurants, jobs, and public transit is in short supply, and only about a third of those who say they want to live in walkable neighborhoods actually do. Aaccording to a new study, the people lucky enough to live in the most walkable neighborhoods are often also be the most well-off.

Brookings Institution researchers Christopher Leinberger and Mariela Alfonzo set out to create metrics for judging a neighborhood’s walkability and monitoring its progress. They picked a sample of neighborhoods in the Washington, D.C., area and, by examining several aspects of each one, assigned each a walkability score between one and five.

Once each neighborhood received a score, the researchers began exploring what distinguished high performers from low ones. They found that the most walkable communities boasted the strongest economies—and the most costly housing. Moving up one walkability point came with a $300 monthly bump in rent. Those living in the most walkable communities spent a greater portion of their income on housing and tended to be wealthier. As Leinberger told Atlantic Cities, “Only the wealthiest among us can afford to live in [these neighborhoods]."

Of course the problem is that if you invested heavily on 33rd Street, it would gentrify Mayfair and the north part of Caswell Hill.  It’s not the fault of the street or urban planning, it’s just the process of investing in really liveable streets; once you build them, people will come.

A quick proposal to make Saskatoon a better place to live

This afternoon Wendy, Mark, and Oliver are at the 2011 Caswell Arts Festival.  It’s a great event and a lot of fun.  One problem, we almost missed out on it because we never heard of it until the last minute.  I am not blaming the organizers or anyone else.  They have always done a good job getting the word out but for some reason we were not in the places where the word was.

It brought back memories of some of the political campaigns from the spring where everyone was using Facebook to publicize their events and campaign.  It’s great if you are are on Facebook and happen to be “friends” with the candidate, not so great if you are not logged in and don’t use the book with a face (like myself).  So how do you publicize your events to the entire city?

To help get the word around, I am going to suggest that more of us use Yahoo!’s Upcoming service to publicize events in Saskatoon for the following reasons:

  • Saskatoon on Upcoming.orgIt’s free to signup (most of us have a Yahoo! username already)
  • You don’t need to be signed in to view events and get information.
  • It’s free to post events and add venues.  Every couple of weeks I find some time to look around and post some things of interest to the site.  Even if I don’t plan on or can attend, it lets others know about the event.  Both Google and Yahoo! Search Bing spider the site which means that you are making it easier for anyone to find the event.
  • It links up with Flickr so any photos that you posted to an event can be linked back to it.
  • It’s neutral and user generated.  You don’t have to worry about someone not liking your event and taking it down.
  • There is a place to add a link for the event and for tickets which means that the event organizer gets some Google love and people can go to the appropriate site for tickets.
  • A lot of people are using it already and you don’t have to be the organizer of the event to post it there.  I tracked down a lot of events that Wendy and I are thinking of attending, found some graphics and created the listing from their website.  If the event organizer wants to change it later, they can do that as well.
  • It shows what events you are attending as well as the events your friends are going to.
  • It offers the ability to create a group of friends, colleagues, or special interests that you can organize around.
  • It will feed other sites that publicize information like radio stations, television stations, the paper, community newspapers, school newsletters… you get the idea.
  • It’s open instead of closed like Facebook. 

As for the kind of events.  Everyone of Saskatoon’s festivals should be listed.  Hilltops, Huskies, Saskatoon Blades, and Saskatoon Yellow Jackets games.  Public events at the University of Saskatchewan and SIAST.  Political AGMs, rallies and nomination meetings, events at the Mendel and the WDM, and even City of Saskatoon information and public meetings, church special events (just don’t post your regular service times), press conferences, and neighbourhood barbecues.   You name it.  If you want the city to know about it, post it online.

The end result would be a big online public square where we could come and discover what is happening in Saskatoon but also what our friends are doing.  It would add a lot to city life in Saskatoon and be a great experiment in crowd sourcing everything that is great in our city.

I am not even that stuck on Upcoming, there is also Eventful but I am not fond of the ads everywhere and I prefer the Yahoo!/Upcoming interface.  So if you are interested and agree, sign up, post an event (or let people know you are attending an event), and let your friends know.   Then link to the Upcoming page for the event when you are talking about it.  If you want to, add me as a friend.

The Concentration of Services in Riversdale has broke my weblog

Ever since The StarPhoenix’s Dave Hutton wrote an article covering Pat Lorje’s suggestion that the concentration of social services in Riversdale has become a problem, I have been thinking about it, had to conversations with Councilor Lorje, read some material she gave me, and spent a lot of time looking at city demographics, urban planning theory, and even spent a lot of evenings walking around Riversdale, Pleasant Hill, Caswell Hill (it’s on the way home), and King George… sometimes looking around, other times just soaking up the vibe.  Oh yeah, I started to write.  In what was supposed to be a short reply grew from 500 words to 5000 words and last night moved a little past 10,000 words.  As I was about to push post, I realized that at 10,000 word post was insane and I a) needed to hire a good editor or b) needed to break my thoughts into a series.

So hopefully between 8:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. tonight, the series will be uploaded and linked together and I finally have some measure of closure in my life.

Update: Not so fast.  To make a long story short, during the final edits, I wanted to research some more about mental health issues and Riversdale as well as I started to read about what the concentration of services in Skid Row had done to that neighborhood. 

I am off to the cabin today until Sunday but I plan to bring my netbook along and post something later tonight if not tomorrow.

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Mark "The Brit"

I really love how real estate agent’s market themselves.

Under Construction

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Rumored to be the new Romanian Orthodox Church in Saskatoon.  It’s located just behind 22nd Street on Avenue G North.  I love the design of the church (nice to see a steeple) but I also love the color.  It’s a good fit for Caswell Hill.