Much about snow... and what is the Downtown District about?
Happy New Year Ward 6, and let’s hope the big snowfall is done for the season.
Emergency Snow Funding & Service
There has been a lot of talk about December’s snowfall at City Council, as Saskatoon experienced another “one-in-ten-year snow event” in only two years. Funding is one challenge, and the other concerns how our Emergency Response is working.
There is always contingency funding, but not nearly enough when one storm costs more than the full annual budget. Council chose to explore a blend between adding a dedicated levy for Emergency Snow Response and potentially using capital dollars to fund the most recent storm. A final decision will be made in the coming months. I did not support the option to take away from other reserves to support emergency snow services. I have been a strong advocate for basic services and would not want to see things such as our road/sidewalk program fall behind, as we are starting to see some good progress in Ward 6. Saskatoon is certainly not alone as it grapples with extreme weather. A quick Google search shows many other Canadian cities in this situation. Saskatoon budgets more than $14 million dollars for snow and ice services annually – or roughly 4 times the amount of a non-winter city such as Vancouver, which is facing an enormous budget gap due to their own emergency snowfall.
As for the operational response to the emergency, there will be many lessons learned and our administration has committed to reporting back on this. I hope we can reduce resident frustrations when plows add additional work to residential properties, and while 34 centimetres of snow will always take time to clean up, the City will continually seek to streamline as much as possible.
Huge thanks for your patience as the cleanup continues and thank you to everyone who supported their neighbours.
Downtown Event and Entertainment District
Before the end of the year, we should know if the Downtown Event and Entertainment District (DEED) project can move forward, and much will depend on the funding formula. Council has directed administration to create a funding plan with NO impact to property tax. To that end, Council has asked our administration to seek a private partner. Learn more: www.saskatoon.ca/downtown Saskatoon has an opportunity to create a district that will:
- Improve efficiencies and financial sustainability – residential, commercial development
- Improve environmental sustainability - grow inward/upward, reduce urban sprawl.
- Revitalize downtown, adding vibrancy - attracting residents, visitors, businesses.
What else should be created in the district? The City will seek your input in the months ahead.
There are two engagement opportunities underway that concern Ward 6.
The City of Saskatoon has received an application for a text amendment to the Official Community Plan regarding the property at 555 Eastlake. The request is to consider a new Land Use Designation to accommodate 'High Density Mixed Use' developments. Also, the City is asking residents for feedback on the recommended improvements at the intersection of Clarence Avenue and Main Street after several residents reached out with concerns about safety. A public “drop-in” open house will take place tomorrow, February 1st, at Albert Community Centre from 6:30pm - 8pm. For more information, go to: www.saskatoon.ca/engage
I know we still have some winter ahead, but the days are getting longer and there are quite a few events planned in our neighbourhoods. I want to send a huge shout-out to all of the volunteer organizers. Bravo, for making our community better!
Be sure to follow me on Facebook for updates on all things Ward 6: cynthiablockward6