Sept 2022 City News from Cynthia

Orange Shirt Day, Downtown Event Centre and some Trash Talk

Hello Ward 6, and welcome to the extended summer.

It has been an amazing September, and today I joined the hundreds, if not thousands of people for the Rock Your Roots walk in support of Reconciliation. It is also Orange Shirt Day, in memory and support of those who have died, suffered or continue to struggle because of Residential Schools. It was an especially moving tribute at Victoria Park.

Downtown Entertainment District
The deadline is approaching to voice your opinion on the Downtown event centre. The City wants your thoughts on the opportunities and challenges of the two potential sites. The survey is open, and you have until Monday October 3rd, 2022.  

I want our city to be efficient in its operating costs, and financially and environmentally sustainable. I am also committed to a modern public transportation system (Bus Rapid Transit - like a subway on wheels), which is a critical piece of the puzzle to create the Downtown District. Construction is expected to begin next year with completion in 2026. 

Modern, progressive cities that achieve the above goals grow inward and upward, reducing urban sprawl and focusing public amenities in a way that is a benefit for everyone. That is why City Council is focused on creating a district - not just an event centre. This approach attracts more residential development, which leads to more commercial investment. When it happens inside the existing footprint and centrally located, efficiencies are multiplied. It's a strategy that is working in numerous cities including Edmonton and Winnipeg. For more information go to: www.saskatoon.ca/eventdistrict  

I am committed to the goal of little to no increase in property taxes to fund the event centre.  There are many details to be worked out, but this formula has been achieved in other cities - yes, even ones without an NHL franchise.  It will take time to know exactly what this will look like for our city, but I will remain committed to this goal.

Last but not least - about the parking.  There have been many models created to show how this would work in Saskatoon in a way that is far more efficient than the current location in the north end.  Expect much more on this for next month's blog post. 

Variable Black Cart Garbage - Utility Model Options
With a landfill waste diversion target of 70%, Council has directed the City to institute a variable rate utility for residential curbside garbage collection starting in 2024. On Monday Council selected a model for 3 different black bin sizes to provide more choice. The rate differences have yet to be determined. This model is projected to increase waste diversion, extend the life of the landfill, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 

*Note: Bi-weekly garbage pickup begins next week. Find out more here: saskatoon.ca/collectioncalendar 

Saskatoon Transit changes
Last winter was a hard on public transit with above normal service disruptions. Saskatoon Transit is actively working on improvements to meet service levels this winter. Read more here.

Shelters in the Downtown

Progress is being made toward de-densifying shelter services in the downtown and providing better quality of life for people who are vulnerable.  This is a joint effort between the province, Saskatoon Tribal Council, the City of Saskatoon and many other agencies. Currently 30 of the 61 beds at the Lighthouse are moving to the Salvation Army. The remaining 31 will stay in place at the Lighthouse as part of a phased approach over the next few months.  I am hoping this site could become part of Saskatoon’s Cold Weather Strategy which is being coordinated through the City’s EMO. There is good progress on plans to find a new home for the Wellness Centre on 1st Avenue, which houses approximately 80 relatives. I expect to hear more news about this in the coming days.

Rain Event
I just wanted to update everyone again on the big rain back in June.  The City applied and was accepted into the Provincial Disaster Assistance Program to support residents who experienced damage beyond regular insurance coverage during that storm.

Despite severity of the storm, it was incredible to see the new dry pond at WWW Ashley Park make such a huge difference for so many residents and businesses in the Haultain neighbourhood.  It was a huge undertaking to find a pathway to fund these improvements, which was eventually accomplished largely through a federal government program.  I am so relieved for everyone who had a dry basement after that storm. We still have much work to do to address flood zones in our city, but it’s great to see the first one work so well.

A few more notes

The retrofit for the River Landing Farmers Market is progressing on schedule and the new operator, Ideas Inc, will make its debut in spring of 2023. Street Stall Saturdays will be back, but also some new options at the new indoor facility that will operate 6 days per week.  This home grown, locally focused venture aims to bring back the memories of the past with our local growers and also new experiences. Expect to hear more about this in the coming months.

Interested in helping out and having a say? The city is looking for citizen volunteers for several vacant positions on our Boards, Commissions and Committees. We rely on citizen volunteers to bring their diverse backgrounds and expertise to these committees to help make Saskatoon a better city. If you have interest in Arts, Heritage, Events, Inclusion, Business, and more there may be a fit for you. Deadline to apply is 5:00 pm Monday, October 3rd, 2022.

And last but not least, a HUGE shout out to a true Legend of Downtown, the late Raymond Cote.  As the owner/operator of Bricker’s Shoes, Cote and his family have operated this business for more than 50 years, with son Daniel, now at the helm. It was wonderful to meet the family at a ceremony in his honour, where a plaque has been erected in the Legends of Downtown on 21st Street.  

Happy Fall Everyone!

Warm Regards, Cynthia

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