City Council Highlights
Below are some of the highlights from the November Council and Committee meetings. The full reports can be found at saskatoon.ca/meeting.
Pelican Lake First Nation Urban Reserve Creation
Saskatoon is continuing to build collaborative and meaningful relationships in the spirit of Truth and Reconciliation. Pelican Lake First Nation is making a unique investment in Adams Lumber and has a comprehensive vision for economic development. This investment will provide opportunity and it’s encouraging and exciting to see the type of innovation that First Nations are bringing to our city.
A formal signing ceremony on December 14 will formalize the creation of the Urban Reserve, with Pelican Lake Chief and Council as well as the City of Saskatoon’s City Council.
Shared Electric Scooter Program Pilot
City Council has approved a two-year pilot program for shared electric scooters. The pilot will have two companies selected to operate the pilot program as shared scooters are introduced to Saskatoon beginning April 15, 2023. Riders, minimum 16 years of age, will be allowed to rent scooters through a mobile app to unlock them, then follow instructions for parking to return them.
Operation of the scooters can occur on multi-use trails, cycle tracks, protected bicycle lanes, and streets with a posted speed limit of 50 km/h or lower. Technology will be able to limit the speed of scooters depending on location. Helmets will be required as per Provincial Regulations and designated parking zones will also be required to avoid clutter.
Climate Action Plan – Progress Report 2021
The City of Saskatoon has commitments that by 2050, it will lower emissions by 80% below 2014’s baseline. In 2021, emissions were 20% lower than 2014 on a per capita basis and 9% lower overall. 26 of 40 actions outlined in the Low Emissions Community Plan and 18 of 30 actions from the Corporate Climate Adaptation Strategy are now in various stages of implementation.
Council also received the phased 10-year implementation plan, Alternative Currents. This plan is a framework to implement 12 actions which will lead to the City’s energy being renewable or low-emissions sources and includes investments in energy generation facilities for solar, hydro, and district energy.
While there is a long way to go to meet the targets, emissions are now trending in the right direction through reductions. The Home Energy Loan Program, LED Streetlights and replacing lighting within civic buildings, landfill gas capture, and the Electric Vehicle bus pilot are recent examples of where emissions are being lowered. Future projects like the residential curbside organics, Dundonald solar farm, EV charging stations being installed, and adopting the High Performance Civic Building Policy will help drive emissions further lower in the near term.
Waste Utility Subsidy for Eligible Low-income Households Beginning 2024
As the ‘waste as a utility’ model is brought in, a subsidy to help qualifying low-income households will also be introduced in 2024 to help minimize financial impact. Waste services will be collected through a utility model, thus removing those fees from property taxes. By moving the curbside organics program to the utility model, it will lower property tax increases by 2.16% in 2023.
City Council also directed Administration to introduce a Universal Low-Income Subsidy program that would support qualifying households beginning in 2027. Currently, all subsidy programs need to be applied for separately and are not integrated. The Waste Utility Subsidy will remain in place providing $100 annually to eligible households until 2027 when the Universal Subsidy is scheduled to be introduced.
Investigation of Service Disruptions in Saskatoon Transit and Solutions Plan
It is important to me that we run reliable services for our residents that provide good value. Last winter saw a number of service disruptions that impacted transit users. Close to 20,000 people rely on the transit system as a regular mode of transportation and count on it to function properly.
The Internal Auditor completed a report of findings of what caused service disruptions and recommendations to prevent similar issues in the future. Administration has also completed their response and has accepted the findings and recommendations.
Recommended solutions include:
- strengthening the Stores Operations within Transit, streamlining inventory management issues and enhancing support in using the new Fusion system;
- improve governance processes by increasing management presence, identifying trends of actual service levels, implementing measures to increase spare buses, implementing accountability frameworks, building strong stakeholder relationships, obtaining accurate and timely data for informed decision-making, improving supervisor-to-staff ratio, and expediting the recruitment for Director of Transit;
- improve the preventative maintenance program;
- improve the reporting of transit issues and implement formal communication timelines for reporting service disruptions to the public;
- and conduct a workplace culture audit at Transit and implement strategies to improve the workplace culture at Transit.
One of the outcomes of this is to consider transit as an essential service, which hasn’t happened previously. We now have a clear plan through the Auditor’s process, with better accountability mechanisms in place.
Saskatoon Transit’s Long-Term Fleet Renewal and Funding Strategy
A new plan is in place to purchase buses for the City’s transit operations. This plan will see the City’s fleet modernized with new bus purchases between 2023-2032.
It is anticipated that 97 buses will be required to meet morning peak service levels and standards once the BRT system becomes fully operational. This plan will provide for Saskatoon Transit to have 134 buses and a spare ratio within the industry standard of 25-30%. Over the course of the purchasing plan, $102.5 million will be invested through cost sharing with other orders of government and the City of Saskatoon.
More reporting back will be provided by Administration on whether the need to continue purchasing diesel buses and articulating diesel buses is still required to meet service levels in a rapidly evolving industry. As currently planned, Saskatoon’s share of zero emissions buses would increase from 0% to 43% by 2032.
- City Council approved a contract to the SPCA for Pound Services provided to the City of Saskatoon. This includes an increase in funds to the SPCA for operations and will also have a mutually agreed upon Request for Proposals to operate future Pound Services for 2024 and beyond.
- The Procedures and Committees Bylaw was amended, formalizing a change to have Committee meetings on Tuesdays and Wednesdays; City Council Regular Business Meetings on Wednesdays starting at 9am; and City Council Public Hearings continuing to start at 6pm.