In brief, here are seven items of public interest that were discussed during the May 2020 City Council meetings. The full agenda for May 22, 2020 can be accessed here, the full agenda for May 25, 2020 can be accessed here and the full agenda for May 27, 2020 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.
City Council passed a motion to fast track the decision to contract a vehicle noise mitigation specialist to address noise mitigation on roadways such as 8th St through a noise bylaw review, education campaign and noise action plan. The report before Council addressed the work done to date by the City, our communication with the Saskatoon Police Service, SGI and the Provincial Government. The details of the work done to date can be found as agenda 8.4.1. Vehicles Noise - May 2020 Update. We are expecting a report in June to identify if an funding source exists to begin this work in a timely fashion.
Furthermore, City Council resolved to advocate to the Provincial government on the following:
- the implementation of new legislation or regulations related to aftermarket noise modification on vehicles and fines for noise non-compliant vehicles; and
- establishing higher fines for non-compliant vehicles.
I have heard from many residents on this file and look forward to these next steps. Additional background report can be found as agenda item 7.1.2 Vehicle Noise Update during the Standing Policy Committee on Transportation's November 4, 2019 meeting.
Northeast Swale Speed Limits
The discussion around speed limits has been ongoing for a couple years regarding the segment of roadways from the Chief Mistawasis bridge corridor through the Northeast Swale and Small Swale. I was consistent in my approach and voted against all three recommendations to increase the speed limit in this segment of roadways but this month City Council voted to increase three sections of this roadways from 50 km/hr to 60 km/hr. This means that the segments through the Northeast Swale will increase to 60 km/hr, as opposed to the 50 km/hr recommended in the Northeast Swale Development Guidelines.
It has become clear that many folks do not know about the value of the Northeast Swale, including its ecological, recreational and green infrastructure value. The Northeast Swale is an incredibly special conservation area located within an urban context, which is also a unique feature. City Council voted to receive further information on current or planned communication and education efforts regarding the Northeast Swale and Small Swale. In the meantime, information about the Swales can be found here: Meewasin brochure, Meewasin website, City website and City FAQ.
Information on past reports regarding the impacts of increasing speed limits through the Swale can be found here:
- May 25, 2020: 9.4.1 Chief Mistawasis Bridge Traffic Impact Assessment - May 2020 Update
- November 18, 2019: 8.4.2 Chief Mistawasis Bridge Traffic Impact Assessment
- August 27, 2018: 9.4.1 Proposed Amendments to Bylaw No. 7200, The Traffic Bylaw - Speed Limit Change
Review of Community Consultation and Notification Process for Development Applications
- greater clarity and additional information in written and newspaper notifications;
- while the minimum 75 m notice buffer will be retained for standard notifications (such as ones with delegated approval to Administration under Discretionary Use), a buffer of 150 m will be used for most applications;
- all development applications will be shown on the City's Engage Page;
- new on-site signage will be implemented; and
- additional internal communication is being strengthened.
Natural Capital Asset Valuation
Natural assets provide a range of ecosystem services, including storm water management, water purification, habitat, recreation, community building, and carbon sequestration. The Natural Capital Asset Valuation pilot project creates a preliminary framework for the valuation of natural assets for the City of Saskatoon. Healthy natural assets have the potential to provide services similar to some engineered assets, in addition to the ecosystem services that are inherently provided. However, the services provided by natural assets are not well understood, nor is there a general knowledge of their valuation and tracking in a way that is compatible with engineered assets.
The Natural Capital Asset Valuation pilot project was created with the following objectives:
- Develop a proposed framework for valuation of natural assets;
- Create an inventory of municipal natural assets for Saskatoon;
- Conduct a basic vulnerability assessment for natural assets within city limits; and
- Complete a pilot valuation for these natural assets.
Bike Bylaw Update
The completed Bike Bylaw was brought forward to City Council for approval. City Council voted to defer the report until the July 2020 meeting of Council, to allow for feedback from the Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) on restricting bike usage on sidewalks in high traffic corridors. As only folks under the age of 14 are exempted from riding on the sidewalk, this restriction is only gathering information related to folks under the age of 14. Feedback from the BIDs can also be found on the Standing Policy Committee on Transportation agenda as item 7.1.1 here.
While the Bike Bylaw was deferred, a decision on the Traffic Amendment Bylaw, 2020 was made to enact a 1m buffer when vehicles are overtaking cyclists on the road. The bylaw now requires motor vehicles that are passing bicyclists to maintain at least one metre of space between the motor vehicle and the bicycle while passing.
Residential Parking Program Review
A comprehensive review of the Residential Parking Permit Program (RPP) was presented to City Council and endorsed this month. Our RPP has remained largely unchanged since its creation in 1999 and has not kept pace with changing demands and the rapid growth of the city. The updates include:
- more involvement from the City early on the support determination of appropriate boundaries for new zones or zone expansion;
- consideration of non-residential areas within the review;
- establish permit limits per dwelling unit to a maximum of three;
- retain current permit fees until a further review of technological enhancements is conducted;
- eligibility for non-profit, institutions, businesses and contractors;
- clarify eligibility of multi-unit dwellings;
- establish provisions for sub-zones within an RPP for permits;
- maintain existing time and day restrictions already in place;
- enhanced enforcement;
- increased communication with parking generators;
- pursue technological solutions and opportunities (e.g. online permit sales or digital license plate recognition systems); and
- enhanced communications.
The next step will be preparing and approving a revised Residential Parking Permit Bylaw.
COVID-19: Parking and Transit Changes
During the May 22, 2020 Special City Council meeting, it was determined that changes made to parking would go back to pre-COVID levels as of May 25, 2020. While I did not support the tight turnaround for notice to residents, the following items were reinstated:
- pay parking provisions
- restrictions on the length of time period on the street
- the Residential Parking Permit (RPP) program
As we are not currently issuing new RPP permits, expired 2019/2020 permits will continue to be honored. Under the Disabled Parking Permit Program expired holograms will continue to be honoured in pay parking zones until provisions to issue updated stickers can be implemented.
During the May 27, 2020 Special City Council meeting, it was determined that Saskatoon Transit will resume front door loading and re-introduce fare collection as of June 8, 2020. This will allow for an additional 3 to 5 passengers per bus. Temporary vinyl separation barriers will be installed for operators, as the front of the bus will no longer be sectioned off. The City is recommending that transit riders wear face masks while riding Saskatoon Transit.