Driven by the shame of a MacLean's article that called North Central Regina Canada's Worst Neighbourhood, the government keeps implementing one bad idea after another. The latest is a $90,000 art project, with a price tag high enough to buy a house in this neighbourhood.
As part of the Dewdney Avenue "Common Weal" project, Vancouver-based performance artist Cheryl L'Hirondelle will show up to have "quick conversations" with elderly people there because, she says, others don't get out enough to have these talks themselves. Then, pamphlets will be sent out to encourage people to listen to the FM broadcast of the comments. Later, streaming audio, and a CD compilation will be available.
The other three artists involved with the project are visual artist Edward Poitras who will be painting art installations throughout the neighbourhood, Terrance Houle who will be doing a collaborative video project on the community, and Vancouver-based photo artist Sandra Semchuk who will exhibit her work on city transit buses.
According to Executive Director Elwood Jimmy, the idea is to "develop projects that promote positive social change" and respond to the "negative press people living in the neighbourhood have been experiencing."
Is this the best leverage for $90,000 to transform a troubled neighbourhood? Will someone from BC parachute into Regina and impact the area through "quick conversations"? Will those living in an area recently made infamous for prostitution, crime, and more IV drug users per capita than Vancouver's downtown east side obey some pamphlets, listen on an FM channel to neighbours they don't care to visit, and then change their ways?
Art projects of dubious merit, quick approval of an urban reserve, 2.3 million taxpayer-funded injection needles for Regina drug addicts, and who knows what next?! No wonder Ronald Reagan said, "The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, 'I'm from the government, and I'm here to help.'"