City Council Highlights
Below are some of the highlights from the November and December Council and Committee meetings. The full reports can be found at saskatoon.ca/meeting.
Rapid Housing Initiative
On National Housing Day, City Council approved a funding agreement to proceed with partnerships to create more affordable housing units. It’s essential that we are able to provide affordable and supportive housing options to residents. Since the funding agreement was completed, an announcement of 32 new affordable housing units has been made by the Government of Canada, Government of Saskatchewan, City of Saskatoon, Saskatoon Tribal Council through Cress Housing, and CUMFI. Thank you to all partners who have contributed this badly needed housing in our community.
Emergency Shelter Bylaw & Emergency Shelter
At the Council Meeting, a bylaw was passed allowing for short-term, emergency shelters, which has enabled the creation of the Saskatoon Tribal Council Temporary Wellness Facility. This facility will be open for 4-5 months on 1st Ave North through the cold weather. It is a City-owned building that will have City staff move into it in the spring. This is a short term solution while longer term solutions are found.
We need to be agile in urgent moments. The arrival of the cold weather combined with the increase in homelessness in our community has created a crisis situation in our community. The Saskatoon Tribal Council stepped forward and has worked hard to create this facility so that people have a warm place to go, and is able to also connect people to the services they need. Studies have repeatedly shown that 80-85% of the homeless population in Saskatoon is Indigenous, so this step of having the Tribal Council expand their capacity to provide services to people, grounded in the culture and traditions, is an important one.
I am grateful to our City staff who worked with the Tribal Council to find a location for the facility after a search across the City. I am also grateful to all of the people, the partner organizations, the businesses who have helped donate money, goods and services to help out. So many organizations have been working so hard to support those struggling with addictions, mental health, and trauma in our community. I want to thank all of them. Thank you to the City Administration for being flexible and thinking outside the box to solve issues. As it gets cold, having people living on the streets is increasingly concerning. To be able to provide a short term shelter without a multi-month approval process is essential to get people indoors through our cold winter months without freezing.
City Council approved the Dundonald Avenue Solar Farm, a 2.2 Megawatt plant which will be the largest solar project in Saskatoon. This is an important step towards Saskatoon Light and Power’s goal to generate 10% of their electricity through renewable sources and helps move towards meeting objectives of the City’s Low Emissions Community plan. This is also a sound financial investment, as $300,000 of savings are projected annually through this project and can power over 330 homes. This will also be highly visible to the community, allowing residents to see the power generator on a daily basis.
School & Playground Zones – Effective Hours
Changes to School Zones and Playground Zones will be added in Saskatoon. Hours will be applied year-round from 7am to 7pm, creating more consistency. Slower school zones speeds will be removed from high schools and schools that do not have an entrance on arterial streets. The removal of school zone speeds adjacent to high schools follows the recommendations of the Transportation Association of Canada. With these changes, drivers will be asked to go slow where it’s needed most, where children nearby may be crossing streets either from school or play.
Recreation and Sport Grant Program
Local recreation and sport organizations like curling clubs have been very important to our community for generations. We want to find a way forward that ensures their sustainability over time. City Council passed the Recreation and Sport Grant Program which can provide tax abatements to eligible organizations who aren’t operating for a profit. These types of organizations have faced a number of years of difficulties and provide tremendous value to residents, by keeping them engaged in the community and help to promote healthy lifestyles.
Residential Parking Program Expansion
Council has approved the expansion of the Residential Parking Program on three blocks in the Varsity View/Nutana Parking Zone as well as one block of the City Park Parking Zone. Administration was able to confirm these blocks fully met the requirements to implement the expansion. Only petitions that are deemed to have met all of the petition qualifications are considered for approval. Residents should expect changes to be implemented in Quarter 1 of 2022.
Accessibility Standards – New Parks and Playground Structures
It’s important that people of all abilities can enjoy amenities and locations throughout our city. Council has voted to consider changing a policy that will increase the standard for new and replaced playground structures and surfaces. These changes would result in rubberized surfaces, ramps, accessible swings, and overall increased accessibility and inclusive play structures. Prior to implementation, more reporting will be required to further determine costs. Consultations with stakeholders, including potential funding partners, to help support the construction of more accessible parks and play structures, will also happen.
Downtown Event and Entertainment District Advisory Group Composition and Terms of Reference
The composition and Terms of Reference for the Downtown Event and Entertainment District Advisory Group has been approved by City Council. This is another important step as we move forward in the community to replace aging infrastructure and make downtown a place that people want to be. By including some key organizations in the advisory committee along with representatives from an open call, we will achieve a good balance ensuring successful development and funding of the Downtown Entertainment District as we move forward.
- A High Performance Building Policy was approved which will mean more new Civic buildings and ones that undergo major renovations will be more energy efficient. This will be both more ecologically- friendly and save operating dollars over time.
- Saskatoon was identified as an applicant for the federal Natural Infrastructure Fund. Our partnership with Meewasin has put us in a better position to make this application. A list of projects that are eligible for funding have been submitted and hopefully many of these projects will be approved for the benefit of our city.
- Proposed amendments to the Willows Concept Plan were defeated by City Council. Concerns were heard on some of the traffic flows, engagement with residents, location of amenities, and a mix of fee simple and bare land lots in the same community. It is expected that the developer will propose a new plan for amendments in the future after further engagement with local residents.
Council approved the bylaw to implement various rate and fee increases that were approved in the budget deliberations for various services. For more information on which fees were increased, see please the meeting minutes from the link at the top of the page.
A residential care home was conditionally approved in the Westview neighbourhood. This care home can accommodate 15 residents and will help provide more resources in parts of the city that are currently underserved.
The Comprehensive Zoning Bylaw Review is continuing and Council was presented with a package to review that included changes to landscaping provisions, amendments to some zoning districts, and amendments to certain definitions.