City Council in Brief - October 2021


In brief, this post highlights five items of public interest that were discussed during the October 2021 City Council meetings.

Highlights include:

  • COVID-19: Access to Leisure Centres and Gathering Size Restrictions Bylaw
  • Allowing pets on-leash in Kiwanis Memorial Park
  • Prioritization options for 2022/2023 Business Plan and Budget  
  • Waste and organics utility timing
  • Health Care Worker Appreciation Week

Other items that were discussed during the meeting include:

The full agenda for October 25, 2021 can be accessed here, the full agenda for October 8, 2021 can be accessed here and the full agenda for the October 29, 2021 agenda can be accessed here. This meeting of City Council took place through teleconference and was recorded, as per any other City Council meeting.  

COVID-19: Access to Leisure Centres and Gathering Size Restrictions Bylaw

Access to Leisure Centres

To protect the health and safety of residents, customers and employees, beginning October 15 proof of full COVID-19 vaccination or negative test within 72 hours is now mandatory for ages 12 and over within all Leisure Centre areas and at the City’s indoor rinks. City Council approved the action at its meeting Friday, October 8 as an added safety measure to complement the Provincial Public Health Order, reduce confusion for customers and address the increasing spread of COVID-19 in our community.

The changes at leisure facilities are to meet the intent of the Public Health Order. Currently leisure facilities fall under the Public Health Order and have proof of vaccination in place. However, with multi-purpose facilities like Leisure Centres, there are significant gaps of protection in place when some areas are exempt (i.e. swimming, private bookings and arenas). The changes directed by Council were to ensure the Public Health Order was applied consistently and evenly in leisure centres. 

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Gathering Size Restrictions Bylaw

Based on recommendations from Saskatoon Medical Health Officers, in September City Council made a request to the Province of Saskatchewan to implement gathering limits through a Public Health Order, as they are the level of government best suited to do this. After the Province denied this request, there was general indication from the Minister of Health that municipalities can add on measures in addition to the Public Health Order. Only after the direction to draft the bylaw, had Council been given indication that the Province would not allow this bylaw to proceed as they did not want to cede jurisdiction in this area. This was not consistent with previous messaging provided.

All the recommendations contained in the gathering limits bylaw were recommendations from the SHA Medical Officers as the situation in our community has become more dire since sending our initial request to the Province. The recommendations were meant to be enacted for 28 days. Scientific modelling presented to Council and the community, shows that currently COVID-19 spread due to various types of gatherings is probably the single largest driver of the COVID-19 spread that has driven our health system to its current situation. The recommendations are in line with our framework to help reduce the transmission of COVID-19 in Saskatoon.

Despite the clear need for additional measures, the Province’s verbal indication after the October 25th meeting that they would not allow the gathering limits bylaw to proceed changed Council's discussion. It is for this reason that I did not ultimately support the bylaw on October 29. Since Council have been given clear indication that the provincial government will not cede jurisdiction on this matter, approving the bylaw would have been for naught.

This discussion has been frustrating for the community, especially those that have done the hard work to date and have been fully vaccinated. I share this frustration. The concern and impacts from COVID-19 still remain in our community, and as such the City will be reaching out to the Province to better understand what measures we are allowed to take. Furthermore, Council will continue to amplify the information from the SHA and the Medical Health Officers, as this debate has also shown that a lot of information regarding COVID-19 in Saskatoon is not reaching residents. 

As a reminder, the current Provincial Public Health Orders in place impacting City facilities are as follows:

  • Proof of full COVID-19 vaccination or negative test within 72 hours are mandatory for ages 12 and over within all Leisure Centre areas and indoor arenas as per a Public Health Order and subsequent Council direction.
  • A Public Health Order requires masks to be worn in all indoor public spaces including all City facilities.

COVID-19 information can be found on the City’s website, along with direct links to further factual and timely COVID-19 information on the Government of Saskatchewan and Government of Canada websites.

Allowing pets on-leash in Kiwanis Memorial Park

Kiwanis Memorial Park (both north and south of the Delta Bessborough Hotel – which stretches from University Bridge to Broadway Bridge) is one of four areas in Saskatoon which prohibits pets on-leash and off-leash; the other three areas being Kinsmen Park, the Saskatoon Forestry Farm Park and Zoo, and the North Swale. Kiwanis Memorial Park has been designed and maintained as a pet-prohibited park since 1982 and is currently the only riverbank park or park along the Meewasin Trail where pets are not permitted.

Public engagement was undertaken to determine if there was interest in making this last portion of riverbank trail open to on-leash pets. 

City Council provided direction to amend the Animal Control Bylaw to permits pets on-leash in Kiwanis Memorial Park. Once the bylaw has been drafted, it will be brought back to City Council for final endorsement. 

Prioritization options for 2022/2023 Business Plan and Budget

This report provides a recommendation on addressing the one-time impacts of COVID-19 on the 2022/2023 budgets, as well as reporting back on the prioritization of capital projects.

Since the June GPC meeting, the Administration has adjusted the expected impact of COVID-19 in 2022 from $16,825,600 million to $13,845,900 million mostly due to the Municipal Revenue Sharing revenue expected in 2022. As such, $23,868,300 from the ICIP reallocated funding will be held in contingency to offset the expected COVID-19 impacts in 2022 and 2023.

Members of the Governance and Priorities Committee (GPC) have prioritized the capital options individually, and this report brings forward the results of that process. These results will be the starting point for discussion and debate at GPC at the 2022/2023 Business Plan and Budget Review meeting in November 2021. City Council will then debate these projects and can choose to modify the amounts for some projects, add additional projects, or remove projects at the November 2022/2023 Business Plan and Budget Review meeting.

Waste and organics utility timing

During the August City Council meeting, direction was provided to proceed with implementation of a waste utility and organics utility funding model. This report provided options and a recommendation on timing for implementation of a waste utility model for the curbside organics and curbside garbage programs.

City Council directed that the City of Saskatoon proceed with Option 2: A fixed monthly rate for the curbside organics utility with a January 2023 implementation, and a variable rate for black cart garbage utility with implementation in 2024. The full report can be found here. Additional reporting on the utilities can be expected in the new year.

In addition, the Administration was requested to proceed with waste utility affordability program development focusing on a transitional approach, reporting back by Q3, 2022.

Health Care Worker Appreciation Week

City Council today proclaimed November 1 to 8, 2021, Health Care Worker Appreciation Week in Saskatoon.

Health Care Worker Appreciation Week was created to provide gratitude and appreciation to health professionals who continue to show heroic efforts in protecting our community during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In appreciation for all the physicians, nurses, health care aides, home care providers, pharmacists, paramedics, emergency management teams and all others working in health care, the City is offering a 40% discount on a family, adult or youth Leisure Centre general admission during Health Care Worker Appreciation Week -- November 1 to 8, 2021.

In addition to the required vaccination or negative test proof, health care workers will be asked to provide proof of employment in order to receive the discount. The offer is valid at all City Leisure Centres including Cosmo Civic Centre, Harry Bailey Aquatic Centre, Lakewood Civic Centre, Lawson Civic Centre, Saskatoon Field House and Shaw Centre.

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