Keep in the loop with all things Ward 8.
This month's newsletter provides an update on both October and November City Council meetings and a look ahead at budget deliberations, which begin on Monday, November 28, 2022. Topics of interest include transit, Downtown Event and Entertainment District, climate action updates and changes to City Council meeting schedules.
I also want to take an opportunity to highlight the admission model changes at the Remai Modern. In October, admission is now by donation to the Remai Modern! This is due to a generous donation from the Frank and Ellen Remai Foundation. I hope you get a chance to head over to the space and check out the new atrium piece by Nick Cave. This piece will be unveiled formally next week.
Ward 8 Updates
Rezoning of 109 Secord Way
Dream development submitted an application to rezone 109 Secord Way, located in Brighton, adjacent to Brighton Gate and McOrmond Drive using a zoning by agreement mechanism.
A zoning by agreement allows specific parameters to be added to the application. Highlights include:
For an overview of the application, the video of the public hearing can be viewed here. The rezoning was approved by City Council on November 21.
The City is changing the residential waste services to be a user fee-based utility and is developing options aimed at minimizing costs for low-income households. City administration has developed an “Phased Out Transitional Rebate” option where it would offer eligible households a phased transitional waste utility credit of $100 in 2024, 2025 and 2026. More information about this approach will be available in 2023.
Administration is working at the same time on developing a Council policy on user fees and subsidies to clearly identify principles and objectives on where to charge fees and offer subsidies. The intent is to have a new policy in place for 2027 that provides a more comprehensive strategy to fees and subsidies.
Annual committee and board appointments have been made for 2023. I will be representing the City and Ward 8 on the following boards/committees:
Construction Recap for 2022
Another construction season has drawn to a close and with the City's annual $64 million investment.
In 2022, approximately 235 lane kms of roads were rehabilitated. Crews repaired or rehabilitated approximately 59 kilometers of sidewalks and curbs. Furthermore, approximately 24 kms of water mains and sewer mains were replaced or rehabilitated, with an additional 494 service connections replaced.
City Council Meetings
Budget Deliberations (November 28 - 30, 2022)
City Administration has released a detailed administrative report highlighting proposed adjustments to the 2023 Budget that was originally approved on November 29th, 2021. The adjustments are proposed based on the changed financial landscape and higher costs for the City since original forecasts were created in 2021. The adjustments to the 2023 Budget would see an operating budget increase by $10.04 million, which will be mostly used to combat rising prices in fuel, natural gas and other inflationary pressures. This increase in costs is offset by a nearly $7.76 million increase in revenues, leaving a $2.29 million gap. In addition, there is a proposed increase in the capital budget by $37.4 million.
Additional items of consideration include contributions to the City's attainable housing strategy, SPCA and transit funding in response to the audit.
Deliberation and decisions on these and other matters highlighted in the report will take place November 28, 29 & 30, 2022, in Council Chambers starting at 1 p.m. Residents interested in providing comments or speak to Council are encouraged to please use the Submit a Letter/Request to Speak to Council form. The deadline to submit your online form is Monday, November 28, 2022, at 10 a.m. You are also always able to email me directly.
Downtown Event and Entertainment District Site Selection
Selection for the Downtown Event and Entertainment District (DEED) was narrowed down to two locations: Midtown Shopping Centre North Parking Lot and North Downtown/City Yards. Site selection enables the City to continue exploring the logistics of implementing and developing a project of this magnitude. Through assessments, consultations, and multiple forms of public engagement, City Council came to the decision that the Midtown Shopping Centre North Parking Lot as the future site of the DEED development.
With the decision about site selection, many of my questions from 2018 still remain outstanding. I remain concerned about the financial impact of the proposed DEED project and what the expected impact would be to the City of Saskatoon and residents. We are expecting to receive the funding plan at this time next year.
While I am striving for this to be a net neutral impact (0% property impact), I anticipate there will be costs incurred by the City. I have stated at the Council meeting I will be looking closely at this part of the funding plan before I can consider further support of this project. I want a clear understanding of the public benefits of this project and the expected costs to the City of Saskatoon. I have also made the same ask to all those partners in support of this project and requested that they come to the table financially, as this cannot be a solely City of Saskatoon project.
This project is still not at a confirmed “go ahead” stage. We will need our funding plan in place before we can do this.
Climate Action Updates
The 2021 Climate Action Plan report presented the status of the Climate Action Plan with updates on greenhouse gas inventory and report cards showing advancement of the actions in the Low Emissions Community (LEC) Plan and Corporate Climate Adaptation Strategy.
In 2021, Saskatoon emitted 3,509,600 tonnes of CO2e, which is a 9% reduction from the 2014 baseline. Saskatoon’s per capita emissions decreased by 20% since 2014 at 12.4 tonnes of CO2e per person (down from 15.6 per person in 2014). Reductions were seen in all sectors except Agriculture. Emissions from the City’s own operations decreased by 3% with most reductions seen in the Buildings and Streetlighting sectors.
An interim report will be presented in 2023 to assess whether our targets are still in line with international targets. Currently all actions underway help set the stage for ambitious greenhouse gas reductions.
Alternative Currents provides an implementation plan that is founded in the LEC Plan which establishes the City’s framework for becoming completely powered by renewable and/or low-emissions energy, including investments in local energy generation facilities (solar photovoltaics, hydropower, and district energy) through 12 actions. Alternative Currents provides a phased implementation plan for progressing these actions over the next 10 years.
Saskatoon Transit Audit
An investigation by the Independent Office of the City Auditor was conducted in regards to the service disruptions in Saskatoon Transit during the 2021-22 winter period. The investigation found the reasons for the service disruption to be internal factors such as ineffective operations of stores in Transit, ineffective governance processes and an ineffective preventative maintenance program. These issues led to a shortage in buses which caused the disruptions.
The City Auditor has provided recommendations, which include improving the three previously mentioned issues as well as strengthening communication and reporting of transit issues as well as an audit of the workplace culture to improve the culture moving forward. The Administration agrees with the recommendations and has begun work to implement internal changes. The City Auditor will continue to meet with Saskatoon Transit through the coming year to assess progress on recommendation implementation.
The city is working on piloting an electric kick scooter pilot project. Currently, a regulatory framework is being developed and drafted for moving forward with this pilot project and what standards and practices the vendor must follow and consider.
The pilot will begin in April of 2023 and will be a two-year shared e-scooter pilot project. This pilot project will be funded and operated by e-scooter vendors, and assessment surveys will be conducted to gather feedback from the public. Find more details about the pilot at saskatoon.ca/escooter.
The City of Saskatoon and the SPCA have worked diligently to revise the pound services agreement. Through these discussions an amendment was proposed, and supported by Council, to adjust the 2023 agreement to increase funding for pound services and to develop a new grant program to support adoption and shelter services.
City Council Meeting Schedule Changes
Beginning in 2023, City Council will move City Council and Public Hearing meetings to Wednesdays. Standing Policy Committee meetings will take place in the first week of the month, followed by Governance and Priorities Committee meeting on the following Wednesday. This allows an additional week between GPC and City Council meetings, to allow greater time for Council and the public to review agendas.
A detailed report of the changes can be found here.
Additional reports of interest
What's happening in Ward 8!
Here are some other great things happening in Ward 8 soon or put on by members of our community.
Sarina Gersher - Ward 8 Councillor