City Council Highlights
Below are some of the highlights from the October Council and Committee meetings. Full agendas can be found at saskatoon.ca/meeting.
Neighbourhood Traffic Reviews
In 2020, the final set of Neighbourhood Traffic Reviews will be completed in Saskatoon. The progress of which neighbourhoods have been covered in the NTR process can be seen in this map, and the final reports from all completed reviews can be found at saskatoon.ca/ntr.
The NTR process began in 2014 as a way to be more strategic and thoughtful about how we manage traffic safety and traffic flow. To do this, public meetings are held with the community, and the City gets feedback online and by phone, email, and mail. This process makes concrete and important improvements to traffic flow in Saskatoon by using best practices and community input. Sometimes these issues can be complex and messy, but this has been an important way of sorting through this and finding resolutions, and the process even won an engineering award.
Although NTRs will conclude in 2020, the implementation of the almost 1,100 recommendations that have been made will continue. After this, we will switch to a safety-driven and evidence-based community transportation review process that looks at larger sections of our city. Traffic safety is one of the top issues I hear about, and we need to keep it front and centre.
Saskatoon Fire Department – Annual Report
The Saskatoon Fire Department provided their annual report to a committee of Council, and it showed many successes SFD. This is the first time in many years that there has been this sort of report, so it is great to see all of the positive work put together.
SFD is such a crucial part of our community for responding to emergencies and protecting the quality of life in Saskatoon. The full report can be found online, but here are a few quick highlights:
• SFD is responding to more calls than ever, and the response times are decreasing.
• In 2018, $152M of property and infrastructure caught fire, but only $9.4M was lost to fire. This means that SFD saved $142.6M from being lost.
• SFD is engaged with the Saskatchewan Health Authority, Saskatoon Public Schools, Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools, and many non-profits. They attended 476 community events.
• SFD employs 140 Firefighter Paramedics—roughly half the firefighting division—so when they are first on call they can better address the situation.
• SFD responded to 14,308 calls for service in 2018.
Building Partners for innovation on Energy Efficiency and Emissions Reduction
The City’s administration completed some important preliminary work on different partnerships and collaborations on specific projects to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and save money.
The administration has begun conversations with some of the bigger players in the game such as the University of Saskatchewan, Nutrien, Federated Co-Op and the Saskatoon and Region Homebuilders to look for some quick wins to make progress in these areas. These projects cover a wide range of areas such as transportation, energy generation, waste management, and building efficiency, and each of them have positive impacts beyond greater sustainability and saving money.
In particular, there were conversations about how we could work with the community to advance an electric vehicle strategy, large-scale solar projects, property-assessed clean energy financing to fund retrofits, incentives for building efficiencies, waste diversion, and establishing a community of practice for building efficiency. More information on each of these can be found online.
It is promising to see this level of collaboration and problem-solving in our community, especially on such a complex topic. This is just the beginning of these conversations, and I believe that progress can be made and the innovations we can find as this engagement expands in Saskatoon.
Funding Affordable Housing
City Council decided to use $800,000 of profits from Saskatoon Land to fund affordable housing in Saskatoon over the next two years.
Saskatoon Land—the City’s land development branch—targets 15-30% returns on each project, with these profits being returned to the City to help fund different initiatives and lessen the amount that the City has to pay for by property taxes. One of the initiatives funded through this money is affordable housing, where the City works with the provincial government, federal government, and different community agencies to fund 10% of construction costs.
More information on affordable housing in Saskatoon can be found online.
Saskatoon Freeway Project
This month City Council received an update on the Saskatoon Freeway Project, a provincial project that will have huge impacts on our community.
Although this is a project is being driven by the Province of Saskatchewan, the City receives updates and we have representatives on different working groups and committees to help ensure that this project works well for Saskatoon.
The major update was about how the north part of this roadway will be configured, and the engineering analysis has shown that Highway 11 will be rerouted to connect to Wanuskewin Road as opposed to connecting to Idylwyld Drive as it currently does. This can be seen in the current and future diagrams:
The other update provided to us was that the City’s administration has made a formal request that the province adopt/apply some of our policies as this preliminary planning work continue. These policies are the Official Community Plan, the Triple Bottom Line Policy, the Wetlands Policy, and the Civic Heritage Policy. We expect to hear an update on the province’s decision on this in the near the future.
This undertaking is going to require innovation and continued dialogue about how to best preserve the ecological integrity of the Northeast Swale for future generations while also building a connected growing City. I understand there is a lot at stake and will continue to support an engaged problem solving approach to these issues.