The Holidays are upon us! No matter how, what, or if you celebrate a holiday at this time of year, I hope you find some warmth, rest, and light over the next couple of weeks. It has been a busy few weeks since you heard from me last. Read on for updates about budget, a new temporary homeless shelter, and Monday's City Council meeting.
As always, if you have feedback on any of these or other issues on the Council agenda, I commit to reading all emails I receive before Monday's 1pm meeting. To have all of Council read your feedback, correspondence needs to be received by the Clerk before 10am Monday.
A very important project to study the interfacing of heavy industrial land uses with residential areas was funded at budget. This was initiated by residents in areas most impacted in Ward 2 and supported by the Ward 2 Civics Committee. This is exciting progress, especially along with news of Inland Steel's upcoming move to a more appropriate Industrial area. The study will take place over the next year or two.
Amalgamated School plans
The Saskatoon Public School Division has released preliminary designs for the new amalgamated school. Some residents from Riversdale, King George, and Pleasant Hill met with division representatives to learn about the design and start sharing about Community Association needs for the building including discussions about the rink. There was also discussion about the future of the schools that will be closed. Discussions will continue. If you want to be kept in the loop, please sign up for project updates by emailing [email protected]. More here with links to the plans for the new amalgamated school in Riversdale.
The Dundonald Ave Solar farm project was approved last month. I have asked the administration to engage directly with neighbours immediately to the west of the project to discuss opportunities for landscaping at the edge of the project. Overall landscaping will be naturalized plantings.
Many of you have reached out about the need to make elm disposal more accessible and predictable. City Council will be asked to endorse a plan to implement a $50 flat fee for elm disposal, eliminating the oversize surcharge, and making the process more predictable and affordable. There are also plans to investigate how to educate residents better about elm, and urban forest health. The full report is here (item 8.1.3).
Budget deliberations took place at the end of last month. As noted, some key files I have been focusing on advancing on the operational side were the sustainment of our capacity to advance the sustainability portfolio, greater capacity for property maintenance and proactive and collaborative emergency readiness, and support for important reconciliation and inclusion work. We successfully moved forward important projects and roles in each of these areas, and also moved forward the Community Safety and Wellbeing strategy work that I have been working to bring forward for some time. I am excited by this progress.
Property tax increases landed at 3.86% and 3.53% for 2022 and 2023 respectively. Balancing the pressures of inflation and growth, making key investments, and keeping costs low for ratepayers is no small feat. Deliberations were thorough and challenging. While I've highlighted a few items above, I invite you to take a look at how your tax dollars are invested in services here and read a bit more about the specifics of budget 2022/2023 here.
Thanks to all who weighed in on the school zone debate. A few key changes that will be implemented in 2022 are: 1. removal of school zones from high schools; 2. removal of school zones from arterial streets - safety reviews to follow; 3. new speed zones around playgrounds; and 4. new speed zone hours from 7am - 7pm year-round. You can find the full decision report from last month here.
Thanks to all who submitted feedback on the draft strategic plan for 2022-2025. I reviewed all of the feedback and carefully reviewed the feedback on my portfolio area of Community Safety and Wellbeing for incorporation. We'll see a final draft for consideration and adoption soon.
COVID continues to be a real and pressing risk in our community. With quickly growing rates of the new variant Omicron, booster shots are a critical tool in this battle. Starting Monday they will be available to all SK residents over 18 years of age whose second dose was at least 3 months ago. COVID-19 updates from the City can be found here, and details from the Provincial Government are here.
Community safety & wellbeing
As noted last month, the Fire Department and other City teams have been coordinating and planning around emergency response to homelessness for winter. There remains urgent need for greater investment in wraparound services for those who have complex needs. Paired with existing and vacant Saskatchewan Housing Corporation housing, the Provincial ministry of Social Services has the tools needed. We are working hard with partners in frontline social serving agencies to have the urgency of this need recognized and acted on in Saskatoon.
As a temporary measure, the Saskatoon Tribal Council has led the opening of a new emergency shelter, or Wellness Center downtown. The location aligns with permitted areas in recent amendments to the Zoning Bylaw, and the best spot that could be found is also a building owned by the City of Saskatoon. Council supported the lease of the building at a nominal rate, and also elected to cover certain occupancy costs in addition to in-kind support provided for various building supports/improvements to support the success of this facility over the winter.
If you're looking to support neighbours who could use a hand this winter, One Small Step is a great resource to help you direct donations, and STC has promised to update on how to donate to the Wellness Center here.
City Council | Dec 20th
City Council meets virtually on Monday. Brief highlights are outlined below. Click here to find the full agenda. Council continues to meet virtually. Correspondence on Council items can be made in writing or as a request to speak (accommodated by phone). Meetings will continue to be live streamed.
Regular Business Meeting | 1:00 PM
- Curbside Organics - Waste Bylaw amendments
- Elm Disposal at the Landfill - $50 flat fee
- Groundwater protection options
- Residential Parking Permit - expansions for 2021
- Parks/Playground - Accessibility standards
- Alcohol Consumption in Parks - legislative authority
- Rates - Prepaid Servicing
- Levies - Parks & Rec, Community Centre
- Donated artwork - 'The Bond'
- Vacant Land Incentives - overtime projects
- Tax abatements - Rapid Housing Initiative projects
- Tax abatements - Business Incentives projects (2)
- Parking - Impound Stabilization Reserve
- Neault Rd. Construction - land purchases
- Downtown Entertainment District - Advisory Group Composition & Terms
- Appointments - 2022
- Delegation of Sanitary Sewer Charge Exemption process
- COVID Framework - status update
- Municipal Revenue Sharing - eligibility confirmation
- Board of Police Commissioners - bylaw update
- Fee Increases from 2022/3 budget (several)
Public Hearing Meeting | 6:00 PM
- Comprehensive Zoning Bylaw Review - package III
- Discretionary uses:
- Tavern - 1527 Idylwyld Dr. N
- Residential Care home - 1524 37th St w
- Rezoning - Brighton
- Rate fee increases
- Downtown BID & Capital reserve - bylaw amendments
- Proclamations & Flag Raisings
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