As the year comes to a close, I find myself reflecting on 2019 - what was accomplished and what's yet to come. I hope you've had lots to celebrate in 2019 and that 2020 is looking good.
Below I've included a few highlights from budget deliberations which should serve as a bit of a 'look forward'.
Ward 2 updates:
- The results of the Residential Parking Permit study are complete and admin has been collecting feedback in person and online the last few weeks. We should see the recommendations report in front of City Council in the new year.
- The program to replace all lead water pipes in 10 years (ending in 2026) is ongoing and this coming summer there will be major projects in Riversdale and Caswell Hill. Residents who will be affected will get direct communications from the City and property owners whose pipes need replacing this season will hear from our team in the new year about what's needed to replace the private side of the infrastructure.
Following three days of budget deliberations, the 2020 budget was passed alongside the plan for 2021. This was the City's first two year business plan and budget process. The additional planning required should be paid off in improved transparency and predictability, as well as planning efficiencies for next year. Thank you to all who reached out with comments and questions about issues addressed in the budget. There are many investment pressures and no easy decisions, so hearing from you throughout the year helps tremendously. I hope that you see some of the priorities we've discussed reflected in the decisions made. You can find all documentation online and I'll share some highlights here.
The 2020/2021 budgets make substantial progress to close the gaps that exist in our asset management plans, specifically in sidewalks and parks. As I've shared in the past, improvements to process means that sidewalk investments will proceed in a way that prioritizes accessibility even more than in the past, and I look forward to seeing substantial progress in the next two years.
We've also invested in more capacity to respond to property maintenance complaints with 1.5 new positions to support inspections under this bylaw. I hear regularly from folks in Ward 2 frustrated by the current delays and these positions will make a huge impact, getting us closer to the targeted response times following infraction reports. I was happy to be able to champion and support this investment.
Another priority investment for me was to push for continued funding of the Intelligent Transportation System that communicates rail crossing delays to first responders. Thank you to residents who have shared their safety concerns with me. Being able to communicate the need for these investments to colleagues made all the difference in budget deliberations where there are many competing priorities.
You've likely heard that Council also approved approximately 3/4 of the borrowing requested by the Saskatoon Public Library for investment in a new central library. The Library board is very pleased to be in a position to move forward with this exciting and much needed capital project for our community. I'll let you know when opportunities to engage in the design process for that building arise, and I should have a location to share with you soon.
The Saskatoon Police Service identified that there is a concentration of calls coming from a relatively small area in the ward that needs specific resources. City Council supported the budget ask for 8 officers (2/shift) for that area. I supported this as a needed investment in that area and a proactive approach to any changes that may come from new services opening in the area. I also see this as a needed investment in our Policing capacity as a whole since officers from other areas around this won't get called in as often and will be able to respond more quickly elsewhere. This targeted and proactive approach will pay off both in the immediate area, but also in the areas surrounding. Policing isn't the only needed response to safety issues in our community, but is a part of the collaboration required and these officers will be fully integrated in the many types of support in the area.
A few other key investments include dedicated investments in Low Emissions projects, the start of the phased in funding needed for curbside organics, and investment in the Growth Plan and Corridor and Infill Plans to be sure that future growth is sustainable and smart, but also compatible with existing communities.
Those are just a few highlights from the budget. The property tax impacts for 2020 are 3.7%, making this the lowest increase in a decade. In 2021, the increase will be 3.87%. For the average Saskatoon residential property (assessed value of $371,000) this impact in 2020 is about $5.82/month or $69.87 for the year.
City wide policy & updates:
- Many of you have engaged with me around issues of landlord accountability and more recently, boarded up properties. The administration is reporting on these two issues to the Planning Development and Community Services Committee at 9am on January 14th. The agenda will be released here late in the day on January 9th.
Did you know...
- Saskatoon Transit's Jingle Bell Express is running until Dec 23rd (and free on boxing day!) between city malls to help you with your holiday shop. Full details here.
- Going paperless can pay! Anyone switching to paperless billing before Feb 15th (and anyone already getting e-bills) will be entered to win one of two $250 utility bill credits! Don't wait to make the switch!
- Signing up for NotifyNow is the most reliable way to be sure you're in the know in an emergency. Sign up today.
- City Hall and other civic services holiday hours can be found here.
- There's a standard timeline of response after a snow event. Want to know what to expect? Check out the snow clearing level of service.
- A lot of the waste produced at the holiday time doesn't need to go to the landfill. Brush up with these Holiday Recycling tips for reducing and diverting this season!
- There is a new searchable database of current Community Association programming on the City's website. Check it out here and sign up for a class in your neighbourhood!
- Have you been wondering about the rink in your neighbourhood? It's likely run by your community association - check in with them about when the warming shack will be open and when there are supervised skate times. Skating at other times is welcome too!
- Each year the Living in Harmony Awards recognize individuals and organizations working to eliminate racial discrimination in our community. Consider nominating a community champion today! The deadline for nominations is February 28th, 2020.
City Council meets Monday (December 16th) at City Hall in City Council chambers. As always, Council meetings are open to the public. Brief highlights are outlined below. For full agenda, visit https://www.saskatoon.ca/city-hall/city-council-boards-committees/council/minutes-and-agendas
Regular Business Meeting | 1:00 PM
- FCM annual fees
- SREDA annual report
- Amendments to Development Incentives
- Amendments to Residential Lot Contractor Allocations
- Naming Rights, Sponsorships, and Advertising
- Climate Adaptation Strategy - Corporate
- Curbside Recycling - additional info
- Recovery Park & Landfill Replacement options
- Wheelchair accessible taxis - incentives
- 9th Street closure trial follow up
- Rail whistle cessation - marquis drive
- Governance Review - BIDs
- Annual appointments - various
- Funding Plans update - post-budget deliberations
- Amendment bylaws:
- Plumbing Permits
- Campaign Disclosure/Spending Limits
- Rates & Fees - various
- Berm mowing
- Contingency reporting in capital project budgets
Public Hearing Meeting | 6:00 PM
Land Use hearings & Bylaw Amendments:
- Riverbank Development Control - zoning and OCP bylaws
- Development review fees - zoning bylaw
- Lane closure 5th Ave - City Park
- Municipal buffer redesignation - Claypool
Discretionary Use & Rezoning applications:
- 1107 17th street west - motor vehicle dealer (Ward 2)
- 1406 Empress Ave - childcare centre
- Meadows Parkway - Holding symbol removal
- Rezonings in Aspen Ridge
Proclamations and Flag Raisings
If you'd like to speak to Council as a whole about something on the agenda please get in touch with the Clerk's office or fill out the form at the link before 10 am the day of the meeting. https://www.saskatoon.ca/write-letter-councilcommittees