Tag Archives: City Park

Learning to walk again

So I have been walking about 25 kms a week the last two weeks.  I have learned a couple of things.

  • My House of Marley headphones rub on my face making a “swoosh swoosh” sound as I walk as the cord rubs across my beard.  Annoying so I am using a different pair.  It’s not like they are so great they are worth putting up with that noise.
  • It is quicker to walk through Nutana and go across Broadway Bridge and then through downtown and then Caswell Hill to get home than any other route.
  • It feels like it should be quicker to go to the University and then across the CP Rail Bridge but I am wrong.

Speaking of the CP Rail Bridge, I learned something while walking that route home.  I can’t go down stairs.  I kind of fall down stairs which was really concerning to me.

To skip back, on December 22nd, I had been consumed by a dangerously high fever for two days.  I was incredibly sick but I also wanted a cold drink so I got out of bed, walked down the stairs and passed out from the top.  I woke up in great pain at the bottom of the stairs with a couple of broken ribs and I realized that despite being declared infection free, the infection was running up my legs.  So to recap, I was laying at the bottom of my stairs, broken ribs, knowing that I was incredibly sick and still didn’t have a cold drink.  Ever since then I have been nervous about going down the stairs.

Since I have started walking long distances, I have learned that neither leg is working like they used to work.  One leg destroyed by infection.  The other leg destroyed by a large hole I accidently burnt in my ankle.  Great job.  Not only that but as I am walking they both respond differently from day to day which seems normal as they are getting into shape.

Yet going down stairs seems to be some sort of mystery and to be honest, it has been terrifying to me.  When I go down the stairs at the CP Rail Bridge at the weir, my heart rate goes up and it I find myself gripping the hand rail going down and instead of going down one step at a time, it’s kind of a controlled fall.

So on Sunday, Wendy and I went down for a walk along River Landing.  Part of it was me figuring out how to go down stairs again.

After shooting this, I found myself heading up and down the stairs.  As much as it freaked me out I made some progress.  Who would have thought when this started that two years later I would figuring out how to walk again.  Yesterday it actually felt like I had two legs again rather than just two things that hurt a lot but didn’t work well together.

The only other problem is that I have is stopping quickly.  It’s like my legs have bad brakes on them.  I am not sure why this is but it’s the next thing to figure out.   Years ago they did some tests on my reflexes on my feet and basically they no longer talk to my brain.  I am assuming that their lack of communication is what is causing me problems.

Other than that, it’s slow progress and feels pretty good.

Ward 1: Running Against Darren Hill

Saskatoon City Councilor Darren HillA couple of years ago Sean Shaw and I talked about doing a podcast about how to defeat each of the 10 city councilors.  That would only be fun if it was an election year so here we are but Shaw is in Victoria tormenting a new city.  So instead of a podcast, I am doing a series of posts on how I would run a campaign against each other the councilors that are running in the next municipal election.

Darren Hill is the three term incumbent running in Ward 1.  He defeated incumbent Donna Birkmaier (2006), Carol Reynolds (2009) and Robin Bellamey (2012).  So far he is uncontested but with Jeb Bush having some extra time on his hands…  There is still a lot of time between now and and the next municipal election.

What I Would Do If I Was Running Against Him:  To channel my inner Karl Rove, I’d go after his strengths which in part is the role Hill plays in representing Saskatoon on the FCM and SUMA and point out that Hill is more likely to be chatting up Neil Patrick Harris on Twitter than attending to the real and serious issues of Ward 1.  I’d point out that Hill abandoned the western half of Ward 1 when he ran under the Michael Ignatieff led Liberals and he’s priming the pump for another run in the future.  Something along the lines of, “He’s not in it for you.”

Would it work?  Probably not because the perfect time and person to do it was last election when Robin Bellamy ran.  Hill had just been clobbered in the federal race and you could have made a compelling case that said, “City Council is not a plan B”.  Instead Bellamy ran on Cosmo and a quiet support of the Mayor (who isn’t popular in Ward 1) and lost handily to Hill.

This time around Hill’s biggest weakness is how poorly he has spent his communications fund.  No newsletters that I have seen, erratic email communication to the Ward, and a much lower visibility this time around.  While he continues to do excellent constituency work, his biggest vulnerability might be, “we only see you around at election time.”

Is that a winning message.  Probably not.  Those that care about municipal politics are probably the kinds of voters that dialogue with Hill and therefore get a response.  In talking to neighbors, they seem to appreciate the work that Hill has done for them when called upon, even if they haven’t always appreciated all of the city decisions.   That is generally the winning formula for city councilors running for re-election.

Where it does start to become a problem for him is an outside candidate runs for Mayor and channels the frustration with the city quo on a bunch of areas and hill as an incumbent gets caught up on that.  All incumbents are vulnerable on rising crime in Saskatoon, transparency and competence of City Hall, and a desire for change as the economic conditions in the city have changed.  Local campaigns don’t have the money to pound home those issues but riding the coat tails of a mayoral campaign that turns to the theme of change, could make Ward 1 interesting.  Even in an interesting campaign, I can’t see Hill going down in defeat. 

The mistake that people make in municipal elections is that  because they see the world in a left/right spectrum, the rest of the world does.  We don’t.  We care about things like roads being cleaned, potholes being fixed, and safe communities, that is where Hill does a good job. 

Chances of Being Defeated: Low.  Expect to see him as your Ward 1 councilor for the next four years but if you disagree with me, feel free to run or leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Disclosure: I endorsed Hill in the last two elections.  Documents obtained in a FOI of City Councilors named me as a Darren Hill crony and it was suggested that I was a part of a Darren Hill slate.  I am still bitter about that.  More than it suggests that I am any civic politician’s crony and if there was a slate of candidates, it would be the Jordon Cooper slate.

It’s okay for a city to have a sense of humor

Attention Dogs

I love this.  I wish Saskatoon and other cities would have a sense of humour like this like Bellvue, Washington.  It’s also okay for cities to be fun.

Of course then there is this.  It is amazing

Lego Bridge

Lego bridge

For some reason I think that doing it in City Park under the rail tracks would look great.  In case you are wondering, it is in Wuppertal, Germany.

Think of what little things like this all over Saskatoon would do for us.  Surprising things to make us laugh, smile or just smirk a bit as we make our way through the city.   I think it would be great.

Affinity Campus

Saskatoon campus of Affinity Credit Union

If you haven’t taken some time to check out the Affinity Campus in City Park you really need to.  It’s one of the best examples of an adaptive reuse that I have ever seen and a great illustration of what suburban infill can look like.  It brings about 400 people into City Park (staggered so as not to create too much traffic) which helps the local neighbourhood economy.  It also is striving to be a good neighbour in that it allowed City Park to keep it’s ice skating rink in the back of building (with a new warming hut to boot).  As nice as the building is on the outside, check out these photos of the interior.  Spectacular.

Kudos to be Affinity Credit Union and it’s architect for the project, Kindrachuk Agrey Architecture.

Does residency matter in municipal ward elections?

I used to believe that location mattered in civic elections, I believed that one should live in the ward that they represent.  I noticed last week that Mike San Miguel had a “sticker” on this website that asked Ward 3 residents to vote in a councillor that lived in their ward.  I assume Mike does and I wonder if that matters.  

I live in Ward 1 and so does my councillor, Darren Hill.  He calls City Park home while I call Mayfair home.  Now Darren does a really, really good job of representing Mayfair’s interests.  I wonder if we take up a disproportionate amount of his time in fact yet there isn’t a lot in common between Mayfair and City Park (I have lived in them both).  

If you look at Ward 2, what does Montgomery and let’s say Pleasant Hill have for common issues.   Both are distinctive neighbourhoods who have different issues.  

In Ward 4 you have Westmount and Hampton Village.  The list can go on and on.  In some ways Caswell, City Park, and Nutana are all similar but in three different wards.

You could say that the westside and the eastside have common issues but then you have Ward 1 and to a lesser extent War 6 that cross the river.  Even if you define Idylwyld Drive as the east/west dividing line, you still have Ward 1 which at the end of the day it means that living in your ward means very little in your ability to represent it.  Very few issues that get debated at council are ward specific; the exceptions are the Montgomery wind farm and infill or the Broadway 360 plans.  Most of city council decisions that are local respect the wishes of the local community and city administration.

Our wards are so diverse that it living in a ward don’t mean nearly as much as listening to a ward.  If a councillor can do that from outside the ward, they will be elected.  If they can’t?  Well history is full of councillors who have been defeated by opponents inside or out of the ward.  It’s just not a real issue.

Historical Housing (brought to you by Google Street View)

This is the first home we owned in Calgary.  It looked a lot better before it was totally overgrown by shrubs.208 Queen Anne Way in Calgary In 1980, we moved into this house.  The ugly hedge wasn’t there but there was a basketball hoop that has gone missing.

14203 Deer Ridge Drive in Calgary

In 1984, as my parents divorce was finalizing, we had literally no where to go.  The house was sold but the divorce wasn’t finalized which meant that we had no way to put a down payment on a house.  The movers where at the house and my grandfather told my mom to come out to Moose Jaw for the weekend and come up with a game plan.  We came out and spent the summer in an apartment of a tiny Nazarene church he was the pastor of.

Northwest Child Development Centre in Moose Jaw.  Formerly the Nazarene Church It was a good summer and while money was tight, it didn’t rain one in Moose Jaw that summer, and my sleeping quarters were the concrete floor of a Sunday School classroom, I have some fond memories of the summer.  Looking back at it, it was the closest we have ever come to being homeless.

After ruling out Moose Jaw as a place to live (my sister needed a higher level of medical care), we came to Saskatoon for a weekend and stayed with friends of the family.  After a morning of finding nothing appropriate, the realtor took us to this house.  By that night we had a deal worked out to delay the full down payment for a year and the deal was closed.

534 Redberry Road in Saskatoon

Moving out to attend Aldersgate College, I lived in these dorms in Moose Jaw.  Guys had the top floor, the ladies had the bottom two floors.

The former Aldersgate College Building While attending the University of Saskatchewan, I had a really small bachelor suite in City Park.  It’s main feature was it was close to Seafood Sam’s, the greatest sports restaurant in the city.

My first apartment on Google Street View

When Wendy and I got married, our first place was on the east side behind Superstore.  No air conditioning, third floor, southwest exposure.  It got so hot in their that Wendy and I battled heat stroke our only summer living there.

#9 - 210 Lindsay Place in Saskatoon