In brief, this post highlights five items of public interest that were discussed during the September 2021 City Council meetings.
- COVID-19: Mitigation Framework, Implementation and Gathering Size Restrictions Request
- First decision for the Speed Limit Review
- Creation of Roadways Emergency Response Plan for Extreme or Unusual Snow events
- Winter Parking Patio Pilot
- Leave of Absence Policy
Other items that were discussed during the meeting include:
- The approval of a fraud policy
- Financial forecast for City of Saskatoon's Business Plan and Budget
- Update on Walkway Closure Policy
The full agenda for September 27, 2021 can be accessed here and the full agenda for September 29, 2021 can be accessed here. This meeting of City Council took place through teleconference and was recorded, as per any other City Council meeting.
Framework for Measures to Mitigate the Transmission of COVID-19 in Saskatoon
To assist City Administration and City Council in making evidence-based decisions for the services and facilities within its control, City Council approved the use of a colour-coded COVID-19 risk mitigation framework. The framework uses the best available data (indicators) to inform how and when to increase or relax various COVID-19 safety measures within the City’s legislative jurisdiction.
The framework is colour-coded and based on a four-level risk assessment:
- green – minimal risk
- yellow - caution
- orange – high risk
- red – critical risk
Saskatoon is currently in the "orange" level of risk. The framework can be found here.
The framework is designed to help City employees and residents who use City programs and services understand the current level of risk in the community and the measures that are in place to minimize the risk. The framework also indicates that when the City, under the guidance from the Local Medical Health Officers (MHO), determines a measure specific to Saskatoon is required - and that measure is within the jurisdiction of the Province - a letter with a request from Mayor and Council will be sent to the Province.
COVID-19 transmission continues to affect the delivery of City programs and services and requires ongoing health and safety measures to limit virus transmission in the workplace and community. Local MHO have assessed there is a high likelihood that the transmission of COVID-19 is uncontrolled in Saskatoon.
Measures are not automatically activated without a review process to determine their necessity and applicability. This framework supports and adds to any Provincial Public Health Orders that may be in place at the time: it operates in the absence of applicable formal Public Health Orders, or in addition to the Public Health Orders.
Implementation of the Framework
The implementation of the framework includes details regarding governance, how the levels are determined, how the measures will be activated, and the process for requesting support for measures under provincial jurisdiction. The full report can be found here, but a summary is as follows:
- Risk levels are determined by the primary indicator statistics outlined in the framework. The indicators are then used to determine the overall status in Saskatoon.
- Review of current Public Health Orders
- Review of current COVID-19 situation
- Consultation with local MHO and other key stakeholders
- Review by City Council
- Any approved measures would be activated on the first day of the next month and would remain in place until a review at the next Council meeting
Administration will continue to monitor and report on a weekly basis with updates on the Indicators for Monitoring COVID-19 risk in Saskatoon and current risk level. Information about measures currently in place will be provided. This information will be shared on a weekly basis on the City website.
Gathering Size Request
As per the Framework, City Council held an emergency meeting just days after our typical City Council meeting, to address concerns not covered under the current Public Health Order. The evidence indicates that Saskatoon is in the high risk, orange level. One measure contained in that level is to request that the Government of Saskatchewan issue a public health order to limit gathering sizes in the Saskatoon zone. The recommendations were generated through the support of SHA Medical Health Officers.
City Council has approved a recommendation where the Mayor write a letter on behalf of City Council to the Premier of Saskatchewan, the Minister of Health, and any relevant ministers requesting that the Chief Medical Health Officer for Saskatchewan issue a Public Health Order for Saskatoon that imposes the following:
- A limit of 150 person maximum capacity at an event facilities, casinos, bingo halls, theatres, art galleries, libraries and recreational facilities, or 1/3 of the current capacity, whichever is less, to ensure that physical distancing can be maintained.
- A limit of 15 people at private gatherings, including household gatherings.
- A limit of 150 people at public indoor gatherings and private indoor gatherings or 1/3 of the current capacity, whichever is less, to ensure that physical distancing can be maintained.
- A limit of 150 people at public outdoor gatherings with physical distancing in place.
- If an event or facility has in place the requirement for a proof of vaccination, or a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours prior to the event, that the event be exempted from these gathering restrictions.
- The current province-wide masking mandate remain in place.
The recommendation provides a general request about the intent of a potential order, but not the implementation details. That can be left to provincial Health and Justice officials. Public Health Orders are drafted and issued by the provincial government and they are best to determine the details and implications of a gathering size restriction request.
SHA Medical Health Officer, Dr. Hasselback and SHA Respirologist and Pandemic Chief of Staff , Dr. Fenton provided a very informative presentation to City Council. The video can be viewed here, including the Q&A, which lasted for about an hour.
Visit saskatoon.ca/covid-19 for up to date information on COVID-19.
Speed Limit Review
The first decision item regarding the residential speed limit review was before City Council this month. City Council did not accept the Administrative recommendation to reduce speed limits on local and collector roads. This leaves city-wide speed limits as status quo.
Background information on this first decision milestone can be found here.
The next step is for Administration to report back on best practices and options for school zones and playground zones. This report would also talk about speeds pertaining to areas with a high concentration of seniors and bikeways.
Keep up to date with this work by visiting the Speed Limit Review Webpage: saskatoon.ca/engage/speed-limit-review.
The City has created a winter roads emergency response plan for extreme or unusual snow events. With this response plan in place, extra staffing and contractor resources would be activated to restore mobility after a blizzard with an accumulated snow fall of at least 25 centimetres and reduced mobility to the point that light vehicles cannot travel on city streets.
The response plan was developed using lessons learned from the November 2020 blizzard and examples from other winter cities, with input from other agencies and stakeholders to ensure it follows an approach that works for the whole community.
Residents should have an emergency plan too. Information on how to prepare you 72-hour emergency plan can be found here.
More information and education about the response plan will be available this winter. For more information about the City’s regular winter operations, visit saskatoon.ca/snow.
The Guidelines for the Sidewalk Café and Parking Patio program was amended to permit parking patios to operate year-round. After a pilot, launched due to COVID-19, the City has recommend this program be adopted into the Guidelines.
Visit the City's website to learn more about how to participate in the program.
In follow up to last month's recommendations regarding the Leave of Absence Policy for City Council, one final recommendation was endorsed. The final recommendation pertains to the policy requiring that each member of Council prepare a written plan setting out the details of how the member’s duties will be covered during the leave and submit the plan to the Mayor and City Manager, in the case of members of Council, and, in the case of the Mayor, the City Manager for review and feedback.
A template has been prepared by Administration to support a consistent framework for these written plans. It will be attached to the final policy. The City Solicitor's Office is currently preparing the policy for final Council approval.