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Mayfair

Safeway on 33rd Street

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OurYXE Neighbourhood Guides

OurYXE was never intended to just be a podcast and if you have been paying attention at all, you will notice we are adding new features to the site in 2014.  We have started with adding Saskatoon neighbourhood guides and have the intention of creating a guide of the best and worst of each neighbourhood in Saskatoon.  So far we have done one for downtown, Riversdale, Nutana, and Mayfair.  

Creating them takes a lot of time and even more time is needed to take the photographs needed to bring the project to life.  I have been able to cheat by using some public domain images of Wikimedia, most of the photos have been taken by myself or those submitting to the growing OurYXE Photo Pool on Flickr (if you haven’t yet, please join and add your photos).

That’s the best part of the project.  Exploring Saskatoon neighbourhoods that no one thinks of or cares about.  Last year I was researching a project for Stewart Properties in what is the most uninspiring neighbourhood in the city.  As Wendy and I walked the neighbourhood, explored the parks, found shops and businesses that I never realized were there, I realized that I would really enjoy living there.  I later followed the same process for my own neighbourhood and created a site for Mayfair.  When you stop, sit down and write it out, there is far more to our neighbourhoods than you realize.

That is the plan for these neighbourhood guides.  I want to explore all of Saskatoon, find out what is cool, and share it with others.  I am already excited about visiting and writing about several parks, hidden stores, and exploring some odd urban planning decisions just to see what is there.

Of course my fear is that I find a neighbourhood that has no redeeming qualities and absolutely nothing of interest worth exploring.  If that happens I’ll make Sean or Hilary write that neighbourhood guide.

The inspiration for the OurYXE Neighbourhood Guides is Norm Fisher’s amazing guides that he has created for his real estate site.  His work is the foundation for many Wikipedia entries and our course our own guides.  While our focus is different, his neighbourhood guides are a great resource for anyone wanting to know more about their neighbourhood.

13 Most Popular Photos of 2013

Flickr tracks your most popular photos based on page views, favourites, and comments.  Here are my 13 most popular photos of 2013 that I have posted to Flickr.

Fish Creek Church

Fish Creek Church

The historic and abandoned Fish Creek Church.  We first photographed it a couple of years ago and returned this year on a trip up to Prince Albert.

Ukrainian Catholic Ascension Church

Ukrainian Catholic Ascension Church

A rural Ukrainian Catholic Church on Fish Creek Road north of Saskatoon.

Midtown Plaza

Midtown Plaza

Village Guitar & Amp

Village Guitar & Amp

If there was a sign that Riversdale’s revitalization was here to stay, it was a high end boutique guitar store moving onto 20th Street.

Nikon Df

Nikon Df

The 525

The 525

RCMP Dragonfly Quadcopter Drone

RCMP Dragonfly Quadcopter Drone

Safeway on 33rd Street

Safeway on 33rd Street in Saskatoon

Carl Zeiss Spotting Scope

Carl Zeiss Spotting Scope

The Saskatchewan Legislature

Saskatchewan Legislature

Behind the Scenes in Riversdale

Riversdale

Ground & Pound

Ground and Pound

La Colle Falls Hydroelectric Project

La Colle Falls Hydroelectric Dam

Inspired by Dave King’s 12 most popular photos of 2013

Heading towards disaster

Heading towards disaster

Community Association Website

I spent most of the weekend working on a brand new website for Hudson Bay Park | Mayfair | Kelsey Woodlawn Community Association after the last one kind of disappeared.  I used WordPress.com and then bought a domain name for it.  The idea is that WordPress.com is really easy to use and eventually someone else will be taking care of it.

Take a look, let me know what you think.  There is still some work to be done on it but I am always open to suggestions.

Safeway on 33rd Street

33rd Street Safeway

Experience Mayfair

For all of my complaining about Mayfair, it is a pretty cool neighbourhood to live in.  There is a now a website highlighting all of the amenities of Mayfair from shopping, restaurants, education, and parks.

Experience Mayfair

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.

Why not Caroline Robins School?

Excellent article by The StarPhoenix’s Janet French

Why do so many parents spurn Caroline Robins for the stuffed halls of Dundonald?

One Hampton Village resident said some of her neighbours can’t get over the outdated “community school” label.

Justine McCaffrey, the president of the Hampton Village community association, has two sons, four and two years old. Although they had strongly considered Caroline Robins, her older child attends Dundonald preschool because it’s closer to their house and a teenage neighbour can walk him to and from school.

“Had we lived any further away from the schools, I would be taking my kids to Caroline Robins.”

She’s heard parents say they won’t consider sending their kids to Caroline Robins because it was a “community school.” That used to be a designation that gave schools extra provincial funding for nutrition programs and other extras to help lower-income students.

A third of Caroline Robins’ students are First Nations and Metis.

It’s up to the school division to dispel stereotypes about Caroline Robins and tell parents what the school has to offer, she said.

“People sit there and they look at the label ‘community school,’ and they think (Caroline Robins is an) inner-city school, where there’s less fortunate kids, that the teachers aren’t the same — which they are,” McCaffrey said. “It’s no different of a school than Dundonald is, or St. Peter, or any of the schools in the area.”

The answer is that Caroline Robins school is a community school because the public school system has decided that the kids that go there need additional supports.  Sadly they need the supports (like feeding programs and other supports) because they are not all getting them at home.  Often it means disengaged parents which lead to lower classroom performance.  So as a parent in Hampton Village, do you want to send your kid to an overcrowded school with more engaged parents and students or a community school with less engaged parents and lower performing students?  The numbers answer that question.

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.

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.

AGM for the Mayfair, Hudson Bay Park, and Kelsey-Woodlawn Community Association

Our annual AGM is on Thursday Sept 27, 5:30 at Henry Kelsey rinkAll residents in Mayfair, Hudson Bay Park and Kelsey-Woodlawn are invited.

Come enjoy food, refreshments, bouncers for the kids all at the Henry Kelsey rink!

Food starts at 5:30

AGM starts at 6:30 – Community programs, events, services, safety, chance to meet others in our neighbourhoods. Have a voice in your community.

I love reading it because the phrase “bouncers for the kids” brings up a great mental image.

For those of you who do live in these neighbourhoods, you need to come out.  Mayfair and Kelsey-Woodlawn have their challenges and a vibrant and active community association is part of the solution.

Mayfair – Hudson Bay Park – Kelsey Woodlawn Facebook Group

There is an active Facebook group for Hudson Bay Park, Mayfair, and the Kelsey Woodlawn community association.  If you are a resident of one of these three neighbourhoods, you may want to join.

There are a variety of good discussions online.  As the group intro says.

Hello and welcome. This community page represents the neighbourhoods of Hudson Bay Park, Mayfair and Kelsey/Woodlawn in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Our group is for everyone who lives in our neighbourhoods, as well as those who might want to join for information on a variety of community topics. Discussions might be about upcoming events in our neighbourhoods, concerns in the community, or other community-related topics.

Have some plants to give away? Need daycare? Great new shop recently opened up nearby? Concerned about something going on? Want to volunteer for your Community Association and help make our neighbourhoods a better place for everyone?

We like to keep discussions as civil as possible, while still allowing for differences of opinion to be discussed. We’re not always going to like what others have to say, but if we can remain respectful while expressing ourselves, we can all have our say and likely learn a thing or two from one another.

Take care of yourselves, your neighbours, and your neighbourhood.

But crime is down in Mayfair…

From the Saskatoon Police

Two males and two females will be appearing in Provincial Court on Thursday, September 6, 2012 charged with a number of drug and weapon offences.

On Wednesday, September 5, 2012 members of the Saskatoon Police Service witnessed what appeared to be drug transactions taking place at a residence in the 1400 block of Avenue G North.  A search warrant was executed at the residence and  four people were arrested.  Two males ages 21 and 23, one from British Columbia and the other from Saskatoon, and two females ages 38 and 18, both from Saskatoon.  Officers seized 36.3 grams of crack cocaine, a .22 calibre semi automatic rifle, and cash. 

The four are are facing a total of 21 criminal charges including trafficking cocaine, possession for the purpose of trafficking cocaine, possession of the proceeds of crime, breaches and numerous firearm related charges. 

Mayfair

A couple of weeks ago I noticed that Dave Winer was using Cyclemeter, a iPhone app that measures and maps out your ride times.  While I don’t cycle too much to work (with all of the construction, storage is at a premium), I have been walking a lot and using Walkmeter to track, map, and guilt me into walking more.  So far I hate it but I am walking around 6.14 kms a day.  While I was walking home the other day, I ran into a neighbor who was asking us if we were moving because we have been working in the yard this summer.  The truth is that with Wendy’s depression hitting on schedule this spring, we just got behind and were catching up.  Instead of walking into Safeway, saying hi to Wendy, and then heading down Avenue D, we went down Avenue B.  It was like I was in a different city.  Girls working the block, abandoned homes, boarded up windows, overgrown yards; it was a mess.  As we walked down the street he said to me, “this part of Mayfair has gone to shit” and I couldn’t agree more.  The housing stock has always been poor on these two blocks but it has gotten worse in the last couple of years.  The sidewalks were a mess and the roads were, well like a lot of roads in the city, a mess.

It’s just not Avenue B.  On Sunday afternoon Wendy had run to Co-op to get some Peat Moss for the yard and I was out watering some of it and enjoying a rather bland diabetic friendly iced tea on the front stop.  A women walked by, lifted her shirt, showed her chest and cooled herself off.  She then offered to give me a blow job for some of that beer (iced tea) that I was drinking.  Bring propositioned was one thing but flashing my 12 year old son wasn’t that cool (although he may disagree with me).  I have heard that prostitution is down on 33rd Street but it has moved along the side streets.  Wendy sees them many times while walking to Safeway for a 2:00 p.m. shift while Mark has been solicited (again, he is twelve) many times walking to and from the store, a distance of two blocks.   Prostitution is like a game of “whack a mole”, you remove from one area, it springs up in different areas.  The crackdown on 20th Street moved it to 33rd, the crackdown on 33rd moves it to my block.  Apparently that is progress.  I have confidence in the police.  They will crack down on Avenue’s C, D, and E, and the problem will move somewhere else.  I don’t blame the police for this but as a homeowner you wish the “mole” hadn’t appeared on your street and that the prostitution had gone somewhere else. 

Tonight was probably the last night that I will think of Mayfair as home.  Tonight Wendy and I were chatting about an upcoming trip and we heard a gunshot.  As I looked up the non 9-1-1 number, another gunshot went off behind what sounded to be Carpenter’s Church.  Gunshot number three sounded like it was in our backyard (although I assumed it was in the vacant lot or alley behind us) and we saw the muzzle flash of gunshot number four (although Wendy says we saw muzzle flash number 3 and just heard number 4).

Wendy had called the police and we were asked, “how do you know it’s a gunshot” and it’s a fair question which is hard to answer without being flippant.  We have fireworks and fire crackers going off here all summer along.  The dogs don’t even respond to it.  We don’t respond to it.  There is a distinctive noise that a gun makes and one that a fire cracker makes.  This was a gun (at the cabin we hear gun fire all of the time but in rural Saskatchewan its not that threatening).  I was told that Saskatoon Police responded and didn’t find a weapon so they can’t open an investigation.  That’s not their fault yet part of me goes what happens next time when one of those shots goes into Oliver’s bedroom? 

Mayfair has had two long time drug house running drug houses on the 1200 block of Avenue D (one closed, one still active), one on Avenue E (closed), two massage parlours on 33rd Street (open), another illegal brothel on Avenue D (run by someone on federal parole and now closed), a massage parlour run by Hell’s Angels, the bar that hosts the Terror Squad, illegal boarding house after illegal boarding house all over the neighbourhood, one really high profile location that flaunts their non-compliance with zoning, a regular dial-a-dope drop on my street corner (by the time it clicks in what just happened, they are gone).  The vaunted Local Area Plan (of which I am a believer) has been delayed longer than the city’s recycling plan.  Of course when it was planned, I was told that Mayfair was next because it was a neighborhood in crisis.  Nothing helps a crisis like a year long delay.   There is no functioning community association, Wendy gets solicited walking home from Safeway on a regular basis and my neighbours are scared.  I used to ignore them and their fears but now I agree with what they are saying.

Tomorrow when I complain to the police (for not even letting us know via the phone that they had driven by) I will hear that crime is down in the area, patrols are up, and there are beat cops on 33rd and all of it is true.  Then I will spend some time thinking how much longer I want to live in what is becoming increasingly violent and scary area of Saskatoon.

One of my core beliefs that it never gets so bad that you can’t make it better.  I have always criticized those that fled to other neighborhoods when it got tough because this is what happens but where the hell do you go from here?  I just don’t know.