Multi-year budget highlights and potential zoning changes
Hello Ward 6 -
I hope you are enjoying the festive season. Council had a very busy fall, and here are a few highlights.
Council has passed recommendations to increase density throughout residential neighbourhoods, including up to 4 storeys within 800 metres of the future Bus Rapid Transit line. I did not support the recommendations.
I have been a strong supporter of focusing growth inward and upward to help Saskatoon become more efficient, less expensive and more sustainable. However, I have serious concerns about the large change from our Official Community Plan, which speaks to pushing density to the outskirts of neighbourhoods along transportation corridors and protecting the character of the interior. The recommendations came about due to new conditions for the federal Housing Accelerator Fund, which require cities to loosen zoning regulations to increase density. Saskatoon could receive up to $46 million dollars for affordable housing in our city. This would be a significant help to improve housing availability in our city, but also a potential loss of neighbourhood character. I will be posting engagement opportunities to my website in the new year, with public hearings expected in March and June of 2024 where final decisions will be made.
Council was able to reduce the projected costs for 2024 by nearly $40 million dollars, resulting in a property tax increase of 6% in 2024 and 6.04% in 2025. This equates to about $10 per month for the average household in Saskatoon.
The approved 2024 and 2025 budgets are forward focused, with aligned funding to directly support the delivery of core services, promote growth for the community, maintain quality of life and importantly, adequately fund public safety and protection, infrastructure, and sustainability to keep Saskatoon moving forward.
This year’s budget had unique challenges with unprecedented inflation and ongoing pandemic impacts. Also, Saskatoon is experiencing record population growth. The budget process aimed to reduce costs as much as possible, while maintaining core services and ensuring our city can continue to attract economic development opportunities and good jobs.
Over 76% of the City’s overall budget is dedicated to core services residents rely on every day including Police, Transportation, Fire, Transit, Recreation, Water and Waste Water, and the Corporate Support such as IT, HR, Finance and Supply Chain Management required to support City operations. The goal of City staff and Council is to create a multi-year budget that balances the cost of providing City services with the available financial resources.
2024/2025 Approved Budget Highlights:
- $72 million in 2024 and $78 million in 2025, the largest ever investment in the City’s Roadway Maintenance and Rehabilitation Programs, this includes the Road Maintenance, Bridges and Transportation Service Lines.
- $10.5 million in 2024 and $11.1 million in 2025, the largest ever investment in the City’s Facility Maintenance Program to preserve and protect our assets.
- Investment in two new Firehalls to address emergency response to expanding neighbourhoods.
- Opening of the City’s Material Recovery Centre, a major achievement for Saskatoon in working toward our 70% waste diversion goal
- Increased funding for Fire, Parks, Street Lighting, Sidewalks, and Transit, to help address public safety, protection, and servicing needs within Saskatoon, one of the fastest growing and diverse cities in Canada
2024/2025 Capital Budget Investments: Capital budget funding maintains the infrastructure we currently have and builds out new infrastructure to benefit Saskatoon residents as the city continues to grow. The capital budget is $383.2 million in 2024 and $405.9 million in 2025. Notable capital budget investments include:
- $161.6 million for Land Development including arterial roads, primary water mains and parks
- $151.1 million for Transit Implementation Plan (Bus Rapid Transit)
- 51.3 million for Saskatoon Transit bus replacement
- $4.1 million for Parks Upgrades, Enhancement and Repairs
- $2.0 million for the design of a new White Buffalo Youth Lodge
Vehicle noise on city streets should start to decrease in the new year, as City Council has approved changes to its noise bylaw to align with a new strategic direction laid out by SGI. New technology will help to better measure noise violations and strengthen enforcement.
Our black bin program will switch to the utility model on January 1st, and options to swap your large bin for a medium or small bin at a lower cost will be available starting in the spring. This change was made to give residents more choice and drive as much waste as possible away from our landfill to avoid the high cost of replacement.
Happy New Year, and all the best to you and your family in 2024.