September Updates

Two Bridges Open Today!

On Tuesday, October 2, join the official opening ceremony on Chief Mistawasis Bridge followed by a Traffic Bridge Party! Go to www.saskatoon.ca/bridging to read more on the event and see the map showing the parking area.

It will be a lunch time party on the Traffic Bridge, with folks from both sides of the river walking across to meet in the middle.  I hope to see you there!

Chief Mistawasis Bridge, McOrmond Drive and Central Avenue extensions will open to vehicular traffic later in the day on October 2. The Traffic Bridge will open to vehicular traffic on October 3.

Trash Update

Council has deferred decision on changes to our waste program until at least late October, as we seek more details on affordability and the experiences of other Canadian cities.  No matter what Council decides, waste will cost more and I don’t think that has been sufficiently communicated.

Trash has been underfunded for nearly a decade, drawing down our reserves as the landfill fills up. There are 2 questions before us:

  • What is the most efficient and cost-effective way to fix this?
  • How do we want to pay for it? Utility or Property Tax.

A city-wide organics program and a switch to variable size black bins, is anticipated to divert the most waste to stave off landfill replacement, negating the need to save up the $175 million dollars needed for replacement and decommissioning.  It has the added benefit of reducing our environmental footprint and potential for new, marketable products through organics.

Moving to waste as a utility seems to be the only way to achieve these diversion goals, as research shows behaviours change when usage is connected to cost. It has the added benefit of solving another problem, as commercial and some multi-residential properties must contract private waste services even though they pay for waste on their taxes.

There is, however, one big drawback to this model.  Currently, homes with higher property tax assessments pay more than those with lower assessments, making the new model problematic for affordability.  In my view, we have more work to do to sort out this piece.

Here’s how the numbers break down:

Utility:

$ 18 million per year (* based on high diversion)

Your Cost: $18 – $36 per month *depending on model & bin

*Plus: 3.5% drop in taxes for 2019

Property Tax:

$ 23 million per year (*based on low diversion)

Your Cost: 2% property tax increase + projected increase 4.5% = 6.5% for 2019
*Note: Landfill replacement contribution not included.

For more answers to trash questions, click here.

About Recycling

Council is working toward a sustainable model going forward, but changes in global acceptance of these materials is changing.  It’s why our blue bins no longer accept plastic bags/film.  This material was compromising the overall recyclables and causing more of it to go to the landfill.

Glass is also becoming a difficult commodity to market given that much of it is broken upon arrival for sorting.  As we try to find a long-term solution for recyclables, the City is adding a SARCAN drop off option for residents. NOTE:  You can still put glass in the blue bin, if you prefer.

Taxi/TNC Update:

The City is preparing a stand-alone TNC bylaw that will be ready for Council’s vote when the province’s regulations are announced.  TNCs could be on the road in our city as early as November.

The City continues to seek a way forward with the taxi industry to create a fair playing field for all vehicles for hire.

Saskatoon Farmers Market

Council has approved a Request for Proposals at the space currently occupied by the Farmers Market with an aim to expand and animate the area throughout the week.  However, Council modified the RFP to ensure that the current Farmers Market model is able to thrive against the backdrop of potential change.  Specifically, Council asked the RFP metrics to include consideration for the current market and the possibility of exclusive day(s).

I will continue to be an advocate for local, authentic producers in an environment that nourishes the rituals we have created in this space.

Residential Parking Permit Program

The RPP expansion continues to have some struggles, and I am aware of unintended consequences in a number of areas.  Our administration is working to get the final signage up as quickly as possible, and also working with those for whom the RPP is causing unforeseen problems.

Thanks to the Varsity View Community Association for an in-depth conversation about the nature of a 24/7 parking problem, which goes well beyond the anticipated need through the current RPP. As mentioned previously, a review is underway to try to address the long-term management of parking congestion in residential neighbourhoods.

A few notes –

The next Coffee with Your Councillor will be held at Good Earth Coffeehouse in River Landing on Tuesday October 30, 7:30am – 9:30am.

A public information meeting to discuss a proposed multi-residential building at the top of the Broadway Bridge is scheduled for Wednesday, October 10, at Nutana Collegiate 7pm – 9pm.

A similar meeting was held in September for a proposal at the top of the University Bridge (Clarence and College Drive).  Renderings are posted on Facebook: @cynthiablockward6.

I look forward to your feedback on both projects.

Sincerely,

Cynthia

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