In brief, here are five items of public interest that were discussed during the February 2020 City Council meeting. The full agenda can be accessed here.
Short-Term Accommodation Regulation
Short Term Rentals (STRs) are rental tenancies in all or part of a dwelling unit. STRs include all rental arrangements in a residential dwelling where the host receives compensation from the guest, and the guest stays for less than 30 days. These may be known as vacation rentals, couch surfers, bed and breakfasts and AirBnBs. Any tenancies longer than 30 days is not considered short term rental; STR regulations would not apply to house sitters, house guests or renting from month to month (such as a boarder).
Three options were presented to City Council during the Public Hearings, with the administrative recommendation being that a business license is required for a homestay where accommodations are provided for more than two guests at any one time, or in a secondary suite of a house that the host does not reside in. A license exemption would be provided for hosts that have two or fewer guests in their principle residence. Short-term rental property hosts would be required to obtain a business license. While this land use would be permitted in all zoning districts that permit dwellings, discretionary use approval would be required in low- and medium-density residential zoning districts.
City Council has asked for further information and deferred the consideration of STR until the April 27, 2020 City Council Public Hearings Meeting. At this time there will be a report back about possible ways to achieve regulation of short-term accommodations in all zoning districts (including data collection, monitoring of clustering, etc.) through a business licensing model as an alternative to a discretionary use model; and consideration of amendments to
proposed Bylaw No. 9684 to change the thresholds in Section 19.4(1) to 30% and 19.4(2) to 3%.
The full report, including the engagement results can be found here as agenda item 6.1.4 on pages 58 - 218 as part of the Public Hearings.
Bicycle Bylaw Update
In follow up to the November 2019 City Council Meeting, there were two outstanding items that further reporting had been requested. In addition to the direction given in November, the following three items were added to the new The Bicycle Bylaw:
- That cyclists do not have to remain in the bicycle lane when one is available;
- That children under the age of 14 be permitted to cycle on sidewalks; and
- That the Administration consult with the affected areas to come up with the high traffic corridors within BIDs related to restricting cycling on sidewalks and report back to SPC on Transportation prior to bringing forward the bylaw.
The Bicycle Bylaw is currently being drafted based on the direction given in November 2019 and February 2020 City Council meetings.
Off-Leash Areas and Bylaw Updates
After a regular review of both the Animal Control Bylaw and the Dangerous Animals Bylaw in 2019, the Administration and the City Solicitor are recommending a number of amendments be made to these Bylaws. The amendments are designed to promote public safety, improve upon existing enforcement mechanisms and to clarify and update certain aspects for the general public and the courts in areas where there may be ambiguity.
The fourteen changes can be found in Appendix 1. There was one recommendation that generated lots of discussion from the public and Council. The change looked to establish a limit to the number of dogs per owner in the off-leash areas. A frequent concern heard by Administration is the timing of response by an owner to inappropriate behavior. The Saskatoon Animal Control Agency has stated owners who bring more than 4 dogs are less likely to maintain voice or sight command, to remove all their dog’s defecation, and manage their dog’s behavior in a timely manner. The addition of a statement establishing a maximum of 4 dogs per owner at the off-leash areas would support more manageable enforcement and owner responsibility in addressing nuisance behavior.
All changes were approved, except for the limit to the number of dogs per owner in the off-leash areas. Additional information was requested prior to a decision being made. The additional information is as follows:
- That Administration report back on options, including additional levels of licensing, that would allow professional dog walkers to be exempt from the 4-dog restriction at off leash parks;
- That Administration report back on the potential options to allow one or more off-leash parks to be exempt from the restriction; and
- That Administration include professional dog walkers in their community consultation
This report will come at a later date to City Council, once the information has been gathered.
The Green Infrastructure Strategy
Green infrastructure is a system of natural, enhanced and engineered assets that provide municipal and ecosystem services by protecting, restoring or emulating nature. When green infrastructure is designed holistically, it becomes an interconnected Green Network that works as a system to enhance the urban environment and improve quality of life. When green infrastructure is connected, resiliency increases, and the overall benefits exceed the contributions of an individual piece.
Saskatoon’s green spaces and assets are under pressure from urban growth and increasing stress from climate-related impacts such as invasive pests, flooding, heat and drought. As Saskatoon continues to grow and change, there is an opportunity to enhance and strengthen the Green Network by improving the ecosystems’ condition, partnering with the community, and nurturing relationships between people and nature. The vision for the Green Infrastructure Strategy is that Saskatoon’s green network provides sustainable habitat for people and nature. The full Green Infrastructure Strategy can be found online at www.saskatoon.ca/greeninfrastructure.
Accessibility Considerations for Curbside Solid Waste Collection
Relocating residential solid waste roll-out containers to, and from, the street or alley for collection can be problematic or impossible for residents with disabilities. The City currently offers a closed program to a limited number of residents, which improves service accessibility for single-family household (curbside) collections. Saskatoon residents who are not currently part of the program have expressed the desire and need for a similar service.
Three options were presented to City Council to support this expanded work and Council supported option 3 which initiates a project to identify alternatives to expand the accessible City-wide curbside (single-family household) solid waste collection service, report back on the feasibility of each, and recommend an alternative for implementation. Future reporting will include consideration of black, blue and green bins.