Hello Ward 7 Residents,
It’s been a busy few weeks at City Hall, and I know the same is probably true for you! Here’s an update on what’s been happening at City Hall and around the ward.
City Council completed its budget deliberations on December 1st after more than 20 hours of debate and discussion. A the conclusion of the process, Council approved property tax increases of 3.86% and 3.53% for 2022 and 2023, respectively. For a homeowner with a single-family detached home with the average Saskatoon assessed value of $344,000, this increase would amount to $6.17 per month or $74.04 per year in 2022, and $5.87 per month or $70.43 per year in 2023. This budget has been described by the administration as a very lean budget with a considerable amount of risk built into the assumptions it makes. The ongoing fiscal challenges related to COVID-19 are estimated to have an impact of $13.85 million in 2022 and $10.02 million in 2023. These impacts are offset by one-time reallocated funding and do not affect the approved municipal property tax increases.
This budget includes a few Ward 7 items of interest:
- Clarence and Isabella – addition of a Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacon (RRFB) and curb extension on the NW corner at this crossing
- Clarence and Glasgow – installation of an Active Pedestrian Corridor to replace the RRFB. The existing equipment will be reused at another location.
- Lorne and Isabella – installation of a RRFB
- installation of traffic signals at Stonebridge Boulevard and Cope Way
The process of approving this two-year budget began back in the summer, when the estimated property tax rates presented at the Governance and Priorities Committee was presented as 5.96% in 2022 and 5.42% in 2023. These rates were determined by administration to be the necessary to keep all City services the same as what residents had previously been receiving. From there, Council and administration both made changes to bring that rate down, including the removal of the BRT phase-in amount and the change from a property-tax funded waste model to a utility. The total impact of the changes made my Council and administration brought the projected tax rates to 3.51% and 3.14% in 2022 and 2023, respectively.
During the budget debate, Council approved some additional investments to be part of the budget, which led to the final tax rate you see above. Some of these changes are itemized below:
- extending transit service to North Kensington and Aspen Ridge,
- investment in the Community Safety and Well-being partnership focused on tackling issues like homelessness and addiction,
- public engagement enhancement,
- Reconciliation, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion programs and initiatives – including the Office of the Representative of the Matriarchs and IWG2S Women’s Centre,
- graffiti management,
- an increase to the urban forestry and pest management capital reserve,
- climate adaptation and green infrastructure advancement, and
- recreation and sport facilities grants.
Capital investments in the 2022/2023 budget are highlighted below:
- $33.9 million in 2022 and $24.7 million in 2023 for upgrades and maintenance to the Wastewater Treatment Plant.
- $41.2 million in 2022 and $52.0 million in 2023 for upgrades and maintenance to the Water Treatment Plant.
- $32.0 million in 2022 and $33.0 million in 2023 for paved roadway and sidewalk preservation.
- $10.5 million in 2022 and $46.3 million in 2023 for the implementation of a Bus Rapid Transit system (contingent on ICIP Government Funding).
- $2.64 million in 2022 for Transit and Access Transit Bus Replacement.
Finally, below is a chart showing the breakdown of each municipal tax dollar:
Speed limit changes
As I mentioned in a previous newsletter, the consideration of possible speed limit changes was divided into two phases: first, a debate about the possibility of a general speed reduction (which was voted down by Council), and secondly, the consideration of changes to school zones and the introduction of playground zones.
On November 22, 2021 City Council approved the following:
- New playground zones with reduced speed limits of 30 km/h;
- Year-round lower speed limits in both school and playground zones 7 days a week from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
- Adjustments to posted signs and length of current school zones;
- Removal of lower speed school zones from high schools, designating them a “school area” where U-turns are still restricted.
These changes bring Saskatoon’s approach into line with the best practices for playground zones as established by the Transportation Association of Canada. Because so many playgrounds in the city are located close to schools, having a consistent approach in terms of hours was important in order to make the rules as clear as possible for drivers. I was happy to approve the start and end times above relative to the original proposal (which would extend them to 9 pm) as they align more closely with the hours of before-and-after-school programs which happen at those sites.
As you may have heard, Council recently approved the lease for a temporary shelter in downtown Saskatoon. The shelter, which is operated by the Saskatoon Tribal Council, will provide critically needed capacity for unhoused residents from now through March 31st, with an option to extend the lease to April 30th. This shelter will focus on providing wrap-around supports and will provide rehousing plans to those using its services before it is closed. A long-term, collaborative strategy from all levels of government (and appropriate funding) is required to tackle this issue in a more sustainable way, but this is an important step in ensuring residents are safe through the coldest months of the year.
Thank you for reading this far! If you have questions or comments, please feel free to reach out. Wishing you and your loved ones a safe and healthy holiday, Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year.