Dec 2022 City News from Cynthia

Property taxes, Homelessness, Transit and the Downtown Entertainment District have been the focus at City Hall this fall.

Hello Ward 6, and I hope you are staying warm. It's been an exceptionally busy fall for City Council as we navigate a number of big files, and of course November is Budget Month. 

BUDGET:

This week Council approved a property tax increase of 3.93% or $6.53 per month for the average home. Increases in fuel costs, inflation, and pressures on policing and the SPCA were main drivers that added to this year's property tax.

BUSES:

Saskatoon Transit underwent an internal audit to find out why there were so many service disruptions last winter.  Over the past many months, improvements have been ongoing and the final report indicated there is more work to do to strengthen oversight, processes and preventative maintenance.  Council also approved a ten-year plan to accelerate fleet renewal and increase purchases of zero emission vehicles (ZEV).

CURBSIDE ORGANICS:

The new curbside organics program will roll out this spring, with each household receiving a green bin.(*unless you already have one) The monthly utility rate has been set at: $6.73   Did you know some 60% of all waste at the landfill is food waste?  This program will help reduce waste and prolong the life of our landfill, giving us more time to save up for a new one. Also, Council has also approved a variable cart size for the black bin program, which will begin in 2024.  Rates have not yet been determined.

DOWNTOWN ENTERTAINMENT DISTRICT

The Midtown north parking lot has been selected as the future home of Saskatoon’s downtown event centre and Council has directed NO impact to property taxes , a model that has been successful in many other North American cities – including ones without NHL franchises.  There is much work to be done before Council will be asked to decide whether to proceed with the project, which includes the wider plan for an entertainment district with a public plaza and potential for other amenities such as green space. It will also include a new plan for TCU Place.  I anticipate a concept plan to be in place by mid 2023 and a financial strategy by the fall.

HOMELESSNESS

Relatives utilizing Saskatoon’s downtown shelters are moving to a new accommodation in the Fairhaven neighbourhood.  Led by the Saskatoon Tribal Council, in partnership with the province, the City of Saskatoon will continue to be a key stakeholder in supporting people who are vulnerable in our community. Our Emergency Management Organization is leading the cold weather strategy, and Council has directed a comprehensive funding plan to ensure we are able to leverage federal dollars for the Rapid Housing program.

E-SCOOTERS

Council has approved a 2-year pilot project for e-scooters, beginning next spring. This popular activity is popping up in cities across the globe, but Saskatoon is taking a pro-active approach by limiting the e-scooters to roads and bike lanes to avoid contact with pedestrians. “Many of the safety concerns can be addressed with technology,” said Transportation Director, Jay Magus. “Geofencing and sidewalk detection can limit the speed and location e-scooters can travel; and there are in-app incentives for wearing a helmet and proper parking.” The framework for the pilot requires e-scooter renters to follow the provincial regulations: riders must be 16 years or older, wear a helmet and are restricted to streets with a 50 km/h and lower speed limit and a maximum riding speed of 24 km/h.

PROPOSAL FOR BROADWAY & 8TH STREET

A virtual open house will take place on December 6th at 7pm for a proposed new development on the south-west corner of Broadway and 8th Street.  The 6-storey mixed- use project includes commercial and residential space. *Note, the link for the virtual meeting will be posted no later than Tuesday, December 5th. https://www.saskatoon.ca/engage/8th-street-east-broadway-avenue

COLLEGE CORRIDOR PLAN

Surveys are open until December 5th, to prioritize and refine potential improvements to the streetscape and open space in the corridor. The College Corridor Plan will guide future development along College Drive from the South Saskatchewan River to Preston Avenue, to transform the area into a friendlier place for people. Click Here For Project Website</> </>

I want to send a huge shout out to everyone working to keep our neighbourhood rinks operating.  This is a huge undertaking and such an important part of the fabric of our community in the wintertime. Thank you!

And once again, thank you to Ellen Remai for donating $10 million dollars to Remai Modern to allow admission by donation for the next 20 years! What a gift.

Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah – And all the very best to each one of you in 2023.

Warmest Regards,

Cynthia

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