In brief, this post highlights four items of public interest that were discussed during the May 2021 City Council meeting.
- Creation of smart meter participation policy.
- Develop an Emergency Response Plan for extreme or unusual events.
- An update on the work to identify and address systemic barriers for participation.
- Providing members of City Council with access to an Employee and Family Assistance Program.
Other items that were discussed during the meeting include:
- Passing of the The Home Energy Loan Program Bylaw in anticipation of a fall launch
- City of Saskatoon 2021 Municipal Manual
- Update on walkway policy
The full agenda for May 31, 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.
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Smart Meter (AMI) Participation Policy
Saskatoon Light & Power (SL&P) and Saskatoon Water have been implementing an Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) program that will automate meter reading through the use of smart meters and communication modules. SL&P has completed the installation of its meters and Saskatoon Water expects to have the majority of its infrastructure completed by the end of 2022. Through the installation process there have been households that have requested AMI meters not be installed in their homes. As such, Administration sought clarity from City Council on the establishment of a policy to address the installation of the AMI program.
City Council resolved that:
- Option A, AMI Program Non-Participation Option with City Meter Reads, be established. This clarifies the following:
- Current customers can opt-out of the AMI program
- Once a customer has been added to the AMI program, opting out of the program will not be allowed
- That cost recovery be pursued for customers that choose to opt out of the AMI program
Allowing an opt out function in the AMI program means that there is a cost to operate two distinct programs for SL&P and Saskatoon Water (i.e. the AMI program with smart meters and the non-smart meter program). All customers who have opted out to date will be given a choice to join the AMI program or to choose a non-smart meter. The final cost for operating a second system (non-AMI) will depend on how many people opt out of the program. The policy ensures that cost recovery for both capital and operating are included in the utility costs.
Emergency Response Plan Update
There have been lots of lessons learned since the blizzard that took place in November 2020. This report confirms that Administration will work to create a robust Emergency Response Plan. Considerations in this plan include, but are not limited to:
- Creating conditions to trigger this Plan
- Defining roles and responsibilities for those involved
- Work on internal and external communications and protocols
- Creation of prioritization for work activities
- Look to define expected emergency level of service for city-wide snow grading and removal
- Proposed sequencing for streets
- Proposed strategy for securing contractor services and equipment
Administration will look to develop this Emergency Response Plan and a recommended funding strategy ahead of the next winter season.
Identifying and Addressing Systemic Barriers Update
In follow up to Council's three motions from September 2020 meeting, Administration has presented an update on the work to start addressing and identifying barriers for participation in City Hall.
This report outlines the "One-City" approach that will be taken to address system barriers for participation. Important highlights from the report include:
- Definition of systemic barriers, anti-racism, equity, equity-deserving groups, inclusion and racism;
- Work currently underway throughout the corporation to address reconciliation, equity, diversity and inclusion;
- A seven-phase approach has been suggested to identify barriers within the City;
- A “One-City” approach includes an integrated strategic direction providing clarity in organizational mandate and key priorities, capacity, resources, and knowledge will ensure this work will be effective, efficient and sustainable;
- Given the magnitude of this undertaking, Phases 1 and 2 can be completed this year within existing resources, and then funding for Phases 3 through 7 of the plan would look to be phased in over 2 years; and
- Work is underway to ensure those working on this plan include voices with lived experience.
There is significant work needed to ensure a coordinated approach is taken and we can move forward in advancing reconciliation, equity, diversity and inclusion. The full report can be found here and contains much more information on the phases and next steps.
Employee and Family Assistance Plan
An Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP) provides professional, confidential support services and programs, including counselling for employees and members of their immediate families to help with
common life issues. It can also offer the information, tools, and insights an employee needs to deal with minor issues in the present, so they don't grow into more serious problems in the future.
Currently members of City Council do not have access to EFAP. The City of Saskatoon participated in a survey of 11 major cities across Canada on Councillor benefits in 2020. That survey indicated that nine out of 11 total participants had EFAP program coverage as part of the members of City Council benefits package.
Direction was provided by City Council at the May meeting to join the SUMA EFAP program. The cost for this program would be from payroll deductions from the existing remuneration of members of City Council. This would not increase remuneration, as it would be deducted from existing remuneration.
Further information on this report and decision can be found here.