City Council Highlights
The full reports can be found at saskatoon.ca/meeting.
Home Energy Loan Program
I believe it is important to acknowledge when we are showing leadership in the province. That’s exactly what has just happened! Following the direction of Council, Saskatoon will be the first municipality in Saskatchewan to implement a Home Energy Loan Program (HELP). The program will allow residents to borrow money from the City to make energy efficient retrofits and renovations. Whether it’s a new furnace, new windows, replacing a leaky door, or multiple projects, the HELP will allow citizens to save money month-to-month on utility costs. It will also reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the community, a stated goal of the City.
This program is designed to reduce the barriers to accessing loans at a reasonable rate, which will be paid back over a flexible term through property tax collection. Equity is always an important lens to consider, and those who qualify (by income amount) will have the administration fee waived making it easier for more people to benefit.
Complete details are still being developed, but this is an incentive that homeowners can look forward to being able to access in the 2021 year.
Permanent Festival Site
One of the keys to a successful future in Saskatoon includes a thriving downtown. Creating a permanent outdoor festival site will help contribute to that thriving downtown. We have heard numerous times from event organizers that a new site designed specifically for festivals would be better for the community and increase the options in hosting events.
This will have a tremendous impact on our community for years to come. COVID has reinforced the importance of gathering with one another. Once it is safe to do so and this project is complete, this will bring Saskatonians together throughout the year at one centrally located site for some of Saskatoon’s yearly favourites. It will also provide an opportunity to have more outdoor concerts due to a higher capacity than other current sites. Having one single permanent site will also make it easier to manage and avoid damage to temporary sites that are currently being used, such as Kiwanis Park.
Phase 1 of this project will be funded through the Province’s Municipal Economic Enhancement Program and construction will help bring more jobs for Saskatoon as we recover from the pandemic.
VIDO-Intervac is a great example of what Saskatoon can offer the world. This centre is a leader in infectious disease and vaccine research with some of the most advanced infrastructure in Canada. City Council has supported funding an expansion project as VIDO prepares to become a Centre for Pandemic Research. Expanded capabilities would allow for the local production of up to 40 million vaccines annually.
This is also an opportunity to create more good jobs, while developing research and vaccines that the world needs now and into the future. We know there will be more diseases that emerge. Having a local Research Centre to understand and mitigate the impacts of viruses and diseases will be just another reason why Saskatoon is on the global map.
Conversion Therapy Business Ban Bylaw
Leading up to last Tuesday’s vote on conversion therapy, and in conversations since then, I have learned how significant it is that City Council moved forward with this new Bylaw.
It is so important that as a city, we recognize the harm that people have experienced and are experiencing, and we work to create a safe and supportive community that respects and values people to be who they are.
Many people have worked hard to bring this about, and showed tremendous courage to share their stories and experiences in order to ensure we understood the real human impact of what this involves.
These impacts are something I continue to learn about. The impact of language, the fact that people are still having to explain that gender identity is not a choice, or a lifestyle, that there is much understanding to build. I am learning every day how much words matter.
We made an important step this week Saskatoon. And we still have more work to do.
Thank you to OUTSaskatoon for the support and leadership you have provided to help our community move forward and to create a safe space for people who need support. I would encourage anyone facing questions or struggles around gender identity to reach out for help through the programs OUTSaskatoon has to offer.
Saskatoon received Platinum Certification from the World Council on Cities Data. Achieving Platinum Certification with WCCD opens the door to powerful new tools for us to better focus our planning, our budgeting, and learning from best practices in other cities to help our city succeed into the future.
A decision on an amendment bylaw for heritage designation of Knox United church has been sent to a provincial review board before it will come back in front of the City Council.
City Council also passed changes to multiple concept plan amendments and zoning reviews on Main Street, in Aspen Ridge, Rosewood, and the Hampton Village Business Park.