I hope you’ve been getting in some Saskatooning this month. It’s been an exceptionally great summer in the city with fabulous weather, festivals and downtown events. It’s also been a busy one at City Hall. Here are some highlights:
This special meeting of all members of City Council was designed to flush out the way forward for transportation, as directed by the Growth Plan. Chambers was filled with many thoughtful residents who weighed in on Bus Rapid Transit, Bike lanes and vehicle traffic. I have also received hundreds of emails, letters and phone calls. Thanks to everyone for getting involved. Here are a few things to know:
Bus Rapid Transit (BRT)
This consumed most of the discussion as there are some concerns about where to route the project. BRT is designed to change HOW we do transit in the city and thereby increase ridership, reduce vehicle congestion and ensure Saskatoon is prepared for the future – for the same operational cost that we spend today. For the downtown route 3rd Avenue is recommended, but if 1st Avenue is a viable alternative I would prefer it. The Broadway routing is a concern for me. In theory, there could be a lot of upside for any street that takes on BRT, but preserving the overall character of Broadway must remain paramount in my view. Timeline for construction could begin within the next 2 years subject to capital funding from other levels of government.
All Ages and Abilities Cycling Network
The word “network” is key, as this has shown to be the precursor to increased usage. Cities across North America, including cold cities like ours (Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton) are moving to this model in order to improve traffic flow, enhance safety and increase options for those who either cycle or use other wheels. This could go a long way to improve Saskatoon’s accessibility for those who use wheel chairs, scooters and walkers. Note, I continue to oppose the 4th Avenue bike lanes and if the BRT can be moved to 1st Avenue, I would give serious consideration to moving the bike lanes to 3rd Avenue. It would allow a seamless multi-modal corridor from 8th Street, down Victoria Avenue, across the Traffic Bridge and onto 3rd Avenue. Timeline for completion of the AAA network isn’t known, but it could begin this year.
This plan has been in the works for years and included intensive engagement with stakeholders. The main directive for this project is to IMPROVE TRAFFIC FLOW. Some media reports have been confusing, but there will be no reduction in traffic flow by adding cycling lanes. Sound too good to be true? It turns out that the current design is flawed on a number of levels and by fixing those issues we will have additional space that can be used for a raised cycling track, away from vehicle traffic. Midtown Plaza presented at the Growth Summit, indicating its planned $80 million dollar investment relied on the Imagine Idylwyld Plan, both for its aesthetic and multi-modal design. You can read more about the Imagine Idylwyld Plan here.
Council has passed a bylaw that will allow the sale of cannabis once it becomes legal in October. Of note, cannabis sales will be prohibited within 60 metres of schools.
Council approved funding to further study the option for a waste utility, which would include black/blue/green bins and the option to Pay as You Throw (PAYT) based on bin size. There will be NO double-dipping if this moves forward, as the garbage fees would be taken off of taxes and moved to the utility. The current waste management system is unsustainable both financially and environmentally. In short, these changes are designed to reduce overall costs, avoid large tax increases and divert 70% of our waste away from the landfill. More info here.
Taxis and Uber/Lyft
A committee of Council is recommending the approval of a stand-alone bylaw for ride-share companies, known as TNC’s (Transportation Network Company). This would enable companies such as Uber and Lyft to operate in Saskatoon once the province’s regulatory framework is in place, which is expected in October. At the same time, the committee’s recommendations include a number of requirements to ensure safety and a fair playing field for the taxi industry. The recommendation will go before Council in July.
Residential Parking Permit (RPP)
The implementation of the expanded RPP has been delayed, but the changes will be in place by September 1st. Those who live in the Varsity View neighbourhood will see implementation by August 1st.
The City continues to offer a special program for anyone who would like assistance to mitigate flooding. The first 400 residents to sign up will receive a personal assessment at a subsidized cost of $125. You can find more information here. * Note, those who live in a designated flood zone are offered this service free of charge.
Main Street Centre Median
As promised, I pursued this issue at our last Council meeting, and administration has confirmed remediation of the landscaping will take place after last fall’s efforts fell short. The remediation covers areas that received major roadwork last summer. However, the overall condition of centre medians in Ward 6 is fair – poor. I plan to introduce a motion that would look into better options to maintain this landscaping.
I hope you’ll join me for the next Ward 6
Coffee with Your Councillor
Tuesday, July 17th
4pm – 6pm (*on the deck, weather permitting)
Nosh Eatery on Broadway
What’s the best part of a Saskatoon summer? Aside from the fabulous summer events, my favourite part is the casual walks/runs along Meewasin, Broadway or around my neighbourhood – with the dog, of course. Also, an over-indulgence at the Farmer’s Market is irresistible. ☺ What an amazing city to call home.
Wishing you the very best of our Saskatoon summer,