City Council Highlights
Below are some of the highlights from the April 2021 Council and Committee meetings. The full reports can be found at saskatoon.ca/meeting.
University Sector Plan
At this month’s public hearing, Council was provided a presentation on proposed development plans for the University Sector. This ambitious strategy led by the University of Saskatchewan working with the City of Saskatoon will be key to fulfilling the city’s strategic growth plan with infill neighbourhoods. Once fully developed in future decades, the sector could be home to more than 57,000 residents across all ages and socio-economic backgrounds. We look forward to the future progress of this historic sector plan and the continued partnership with the University of Saskatchewan ensuring proper integration and engagement with surrounding neighbourhoods and the community at large.
Downtown Entertainment District
Council directed Administration to explore funding possibilities for a new Downtown Entertainment District. The goals are to minimize the impact on property taxes and to build strong partnerships that will move forward on this generational project.
50 years ago, our downtown and city were changed as a result of the building of TCU Place, Sid Buckwold Bridge, Midtown Plaza and shortly afterwards Meewasin Valley Authority. Now, it is up to our community to make decisions that will shape our downtown for the next 50 years.
Potential projects for the downtown include a new arena, convention facility, Bus Rapid Transit system, public spaces improvements, White Buffalo Youth Lodge and other city-center initiatives.
There are four reasons I believe it’s important to bring this project to life:
1. To ensure a strong and vibrant downtown for generations to come
2. To maintain competitiveness and attractiveness of the city on a global scale
3. To help drive economic recovery
4. To unlock funding from Federal and Provincial governments
This will take time but it is important we take the next step. Council was clear that we also need to be very mindful of how COVID will affect these facilities into the future and plan accordingly. This includes giving time for our hospitality and tourism industries to recover before incurring further costs. The decision this week simply moves the planning forward so we are ready when the opportunity arises.
Council has also identified that this is an opportunity to be innovative in design. I asked to have Indigenous placemaking and partnerships incorporated into the design considerations, so that it is an expression of our Treaty relationship here. I also asked that we start early in the process in building sustainable design principles with the goal of building a district that is carbon neutral.
Fred Sasakamoose Statue
I’d like to extend my since condolences to family and friends on the loss of Fred Sasakamoose. I gained so much from the time I got to spend with Fred. The joy, love, and passion in his spirit to make a better future for young people and especially Indigenous youth in our city, province, and country, always shone through. He’s been an inspiration to so many.
I want to thank the family for selecting Saskatoon as the location to commemorate Fred’s contributions. To have Fred Sasakamoose and Gordie Howe side by side will be a great recognition of two well-respected heroes of our community. We need to find ways to recognize and celebrate all that Fred did for our community and I look forward to helping make Fred Sasakamoose Day come to fruition as well.
Campaign Disclosure Report/Councillor Hill
City Council received a report disclosing campaign contributions for candidates from the 2020 municipal election. This report showed that one of the candidates, Darren Hill, who was also elected as Councillor, filed his returns late. We had the opportunity to hear from Councillor Hill as to why this happened. Legal options were presented to Council and my goal was to make a decision that would provide the most clarity and public confidence in the decision made.
That is why I supported having a judge independently evaluate the situation and make a decision. Their decision will not be open to the possibility of appeals, which would have been possible if Council issued directions to either disqualify or choose no action. Having this matter go to the court will provide certainty and Council will be able to move forward with confidence.
A motion was also passed to have reports referred to the Municipal Review Commission so that going forward, we have a clear indication of what constitutes incomplete filings in all cases.
Victoria Ave Bikeway
Council has approved another section of the Victoria Avenue Bikeway which will allow for a detailed design for this project. It is important that we continue to make strides towards our goals in the Active Transportation Plan, including our All Ages and Abilities routes. This will allow as many people as possible to participate in Active Transportation. It is also important to take into consideration issues that may arise for residents who would be impacted by this bikeway.
I have concerns about the high cost of this particular project relative to other bikeways and am committed to finding a way to reduce costs. Administration will be providing a new proposal in the future which will again come before Council for consideration. The decision at this month’s Council was only an initial step in this project. There was no commitment of money beyond undertaking a detailed design on the possibilities for this project. The Federal Government has also recently announced an Active Transportation fund which the City can leverage to help fund this project. I look forward to the future report with the project design at a lowered cost.
Council has approved a loan for the soon to be launched Home Energy Loan Program. This program will allow residents to access long-term, low-interest loans from the city to do renovations and upgrades which will make their homes more efficient.
Saskatoon Transit is being brought into the future with phases 1 and 2 soon to be implemented of our mobile ticketing program which will allow residents to purchase tickets online and through a mobile app.
Council has directed administration to include an electric scooter pilot project in their work plans for 2022, which will allow for a pilot project allowing electric scooters in Saskatoon for the spring/summer of 2023.