In brief, this post highlights six items of public interest that were discussed during the August 2021 City Council meeting.
- COVID-19: Mask mandate and next steps
- Updates on the curbside organics program and waste utility
- Honouring the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation
- Farmers' Market Update, including timelines
- Leave of Absence Policy
- Report back on the 2021 Municipal Election
Other items that were discussed during the meeting include:
- the strategy for private side lead replacement
- City of Saskatoon and University of Saskatchewan Climate Commitment
- Update on the Sawēyihtotān project
- Safe Community Action Alliance and Community Safety and Well-Being Updates
- 2021 Property Tax Penalty Rate Adjustment
- Meewasin Updates - Capital Campaign, Funding Request and Urban Park Feasibility Study
- The Procedures and Committees Bylaw Amendments for Hybrid Meetings
The full agenda for August 30, 2021 can be accessed here.
Please note that in line with the City of Saskatoon’s request for citizens to assist with controlling the spread of COVID-19 we encourage you to email a letter at saskatoon.ca providing comments or requesting to speak as an alternative to attending the meeting. This meeting of City Council took place through teleconference and was recorded, as per any other City Council meeting.
To protect the health and safety of residents, customers and employees, beginning September 1 masks are required when traveling on Saskatoon Transit and when accessing indoor City-operated facilities and services.
An additional report was shared to provide an overview of the enhanced health and safety measures being reintroduced for City staff. With the lifting of the Government of Saskatchewan Public Health Orders and the rapid and uncontrolled rise of COVID-19 cases in the Saskatoon region, the City has determined that it must take a more assertive approach to staff safety than it has in the past. The new approach includes the introduction of regular mandatory COVID-19 rapid tests for all City staff who report to the workplace.
City Council requested that Administration explore and report back on the following items in the coming weeks:
- The potential implementation of vaccine requirements for City staff only, in consultation with local health authorities; and
- Following the Government of Saskatchewan’s update on August 30, 2021 that “businesses, municipalities, venue and event organizers may request proof of vaccination to host and attend events or access their services,” to provide Council with advice on how this could apply to civic events, events in civic facilities and other relevant gatherings.
Medical Health Officer, Dr. Hasselback provided a very informative presentation to City Council. The video can be viewed here, including the Q&A, which lasted for about an hour.
Organics Program and Waste Utility
There are two updates to waste services that took place at this months Council meeting:
- That the future city-wide organics program will be operated and collected by the City of Saskatoon; and
- That a waste utility funding model for curbside organics and black bin garbage programs be implemented. This means that at a future date (which is to be determined), all of our bins (blue, black and green) will be paid for through a utility, just as we currently do for recycling. Further details on the timing, phase-in options, and affordability considerations will be reported back to Committee.
The City of Saskatoon will mark the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation as a statutory holiday on September 30, following unanimous approval of City Council.
The federal government created this federal statutory holiday in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action number 80: to honour Survivors, their families, and communities, and ensure that public commemoration of the history and legacy of residential schools remains a vital component of the reconciliation process.
Also known as Orange Shirt Day, wearing orange on September 30 will continue to be a way to honour Indian Residential School Survivors, their families, and those who didn’t make it home. It’s a way to acknowledge the legacy of Indian Residential Schools, demonstrate a commitment to reconciliation, and affirm Every Child Matters.
An update was provided to City Council on the negotiations for the Farmers' Market and updated timelines for re-opening the space. The full report can be found here, but highlights include:
- Ideas Inc. has been selected through a public Request for Proposal process as the preferred proponent to lease the Farmers’ Market Building. The City and Ideas Inc. have been working together since February 2020 to negotiate a formal lease agreement to manage the public facility at River Landing.
- The report outlined next steps to continue negotiations and options to renovate the Farmers’ Market Building so it may operate with business activities a minimum of six days per week with an emphasis on local foods and products and a farmers' market component.
- City Council approved the hiring of a design consultant to prepare the building for the next phase. The City anticipates that pending approval of capital funding for 2022 through budget deliberations, the upgraded public facility could be operational by Fall 2022.
Based on previous reporting and feedback from the Saskatoon Municipal Review Commission, recommendations were provided to City Council on what a leave of absence policy could look like for members of City Council. Provincial legislation was recently amended to allow municipalities to adopt a leave of absence policy.
Direction was provided on what to include in the policy, including parameters around maternity leave, parental leave, sick leave, the duration of leaves, and clarification on salary and benefits. Further reporting will come to Committee regarding the expectations on each member seeking leave and the preparation of a written plan for their leave and the duties that will be covered.
The direction provided will enable the City Solicitor's Office to prepare a policy.
The Saskatoon Municipal Review Commission (SMRC) presented a report to Council in June of 2021 containing recommendations related to the administration of the City of Saskatoon’s municipal election process and highlighting some of the challenges encountered in the 2020 general municipal election. Furthermore, on June 21, 2021 the Governance and Priorities Committee (GPC) received a report from the Returning Officer reviewing the 2020 civic election. The report identified five main election activity areas that generated the most attention from voters, candidates, and election administrators: Election dates, Mail-in ballots, Advance polls, Legislative flexibility, and Candidate behaviour.
Based on the recommendations from the SMRC and the Returning Officer, City Council directed the following:
- That the City discuss and consult with other Saskatchewan cities, SUMA, and municipal associations to seek consensus for changes to local elections, including when they are held;
- A review of monthly communications and constituency relations allowance spending patterns will be conducted by Administration and that any amendments to Policy No. C01-027 be revisited after the review is complete;
- That the status quo be maintained for reimbursement of audit fees for mayoral candidates;
- That the Administration conduct a review of all the schedules in Bylaw 8491 for clarity and consistency, including some specific areas requiring updating; and
- That Administration seek clarity from the Government regarding disqualification provisions in The Cities Act, specifically sections 120 through 124, as to their application and interpretation.
The full report, including links to supplementary documents can be found here.
Additional reporting, including from the Returning Officer’s report that have budget or larger policy implications will be brought forward as separate reports in the future. Items from the Returning Officer’s report will include consideration of an election management system to assist with the mail-in ballot system, potential voter’s list management, and other election efficiencies.