JUNE 2024

City Council Highlights

Below are some of the highlights from the June 2024 Council and Committee meetings. The full reports can be found at saskatoon.ca/meeting.

Expansion of Access to Public Washrooms and Drinking Water

In order to address the lack of public washrooms in specific neighbourhoods in the city, Council approved purchasing a washroom trailer that will be staffed and located in the Pleasant Hill or Riversdale neighbourhood. There will also be additional staff to provide security and information for a riverbank public washroom, and three additional water bottle filling stations to respond to hot weather this summer. 

The maximum projected cost will be $702,400 to staff and operate the facilities until October 31st. The funding will be allocated from the Reserve for Capital Expenditures. 

The number of people and families living without housing and stability is a serious challenge affecting far too many people. It is stretching the ability of organizations and services to support them.  This is a real community challenge, and I am very grateful for everyone who is out supporting people every day.    

Access to public washrooms is crucial to everyone’s daily lives and we need to address that there are no evening or overnight washrooms available in the area. This option is not ideal, and it’s a lot of money for a temporary solution, but it’s what we need to do now. This is the first step as we also look towards winter and a long term solution. The City will consider how to best contribute, along with partners, so that people can live with dignity and be provided with basic public health.

Rapid Deployment of Safety Improvements on Active Transportation Routes

This decision will create an All Ages and Abilities (AAA) neighbourhood bikeway along Munroe Avenue from College Drive connecting to the 14th St bikeway in 2025. The remainder of the Munroe bikeway will be brought to the 2026/2027 Budget Deliberations for funding. This route will provide a continuous cycling connection across multiple neighbourhoods from the University of Saskatchewan and will connect to Stonebridge by crossing Circle Drive at Clarence Avenue once fully complete. 

This is the first Rapid Deployment for Active Transportation in Saskatoon, which uses semi-permanent materials and existing street space to create an active transportation facility in months, compared to years in the typical process. 

Administration also identified additional potential routes for rapid deployment, creating similar safety benefits. Through the work to be done on this initial route, there will be opportunities to better understand any implementation challenges, price impacts, and the rapid deployment process overall for any potential future projects. My thanks for Administration for being willing to be flexible beyond the typical process and trying new methods to improve safety on our streets for all users.

Housing Accelerator Fund – Incentives

Council approved an incentive strategy focused on affordable housing. This is critical for addressing gaps in the whole continuum of housing, including the urgent crisis of homelessness in our community. 

We are facing a challenge as a growing city –  we have had record population growth last year, but we have not seen the housing builds keep up. We have moved very incrementally over the past two decades, and it has not enabled us to make significant progress in having more balanced and efficient growth, with infill development having a greater portion.

I recognize there has been little time as a community to really contemplate the impact of some of the proposed changes related to HAF, and that most residents are not paying attention to these debates about zoning and housing. We have had to do this work to come up with the zoning proposals in a very short time, and it is only now that everyone is having a chance to look at them in detail and contemplate their potential impacts.

For more information on the City’s proposed Housing Accelerator Fund Action Plan, go to https://www.saskatoon.ca/HAF

Establishment of New High School Land Levy

City Council has voted to implement a new High School Land Levy. This has resulted from changes the provincial government made to require municipalities to provide land for high schools, previously the responsibility of the Province. The Province is also requiring the City to provide more land for the future Holmwood high schools than initially indicated. These high schools are badly needed to respond to the overcrowding being experienced in our existing schools. The new levy will unfortunately add $175.80 per front metre to new home builds. 

If there is a change in provincial policies that would reduce or eliminate the cost to cities in providing land for high schools, this levy can be modified or cancelled.

Saskatoon Freeway Alignment and the North East Swale

City Council approved an endorsement request for the Saskatoon Freeway Planning Study – Phase 2 . This is a Provincial Government project that is likely 15 or more years away from being built. However, it is important for planning neighbourhoods, roads, and additional planning and development work.

I know that there are going to be impacts on the Northeast Swale and Small Swale, if and when this Freeway is built. I have wrestled with this and considered whether there is another way forward.  The challenge is that our future growth in the region will be to the North, which is surrounding these swales, and we don’t have other options.  The job of future Councils and the Provincial Government will be to mitigate these impacts. There was an extensive evaluation done at this stage that resulted in routing the proposed freeway further to the North to reduce the impact on the Swale. 

Council debated whether we could require a more detailed Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) to be done before endorsing this alignment, but the response was that doing an EIA for a project 15-20 years before construction would not provide relevant information as the conditions will change and it would have to be done again.

Solar Farm Approved

Council approved the full scale of the Dundonald Avenue Solar Farm Project, which will result in a 3.09MW solar facility. This will be Saskatoon’s largest solar facility and will generate enough energy to power 475 homes and will result in the largest annual savings from bulk energy purchase offsets from the available options.

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