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Controversial schedule ahead of Saskatoon City Council

Two councilors expressed dismay at the change in meeting times without public consultation.

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Here’s a preview of what’s to come when Saskatoon City Council meets on Monday.

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COUNCIL CALENDAR

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Most council members backed a decision to change meeting hours in 2023 from 1 p.m. Monday to 9.30 a.m. Wednesday when the issue was raised at a committee meeting last week.

The move aims to reduce the number of board meetings that stretch late into the night, while giving people and organizations more time to watch and respond to agenda items, which are posted online. at 4 p.m. on the Wednesday of the week preceding a meeting.

Com. Bev Dubois and Darren Hill spoke forcefully at committee against the proposed meeting schedule, noting that the new times bring council meetings even deeper into the traditional workday, potentially making it more difficult for residents to attend and to make presentations. Both said they were particularly concerned that it was sent for a final vote at Monday’s council meeting without any formal public commitment.

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A city crew trims trees in Les Kerr Park in Saskatoon.  The city council's environment committee on Monday approved a new 10-year plan for the city's tree management.
A city crew trims trees in Les Kerr Park in Saskatoon. The city council’s environment committee on Monday approved a new 10-year plan for the city’s tree management. Photo by Matt Smith /Star Phoenix of Saskatoon

URBAN FOREST

Council is asked to approve a comprehensive 10-year tree plan for the city. The proposed Urban Forest Strategy contains 118 different initiatives, all intended to support the goal of having at least 15% of Saskatoon under forest cover by 2060; city ​​planners estimate that around nine percent of the city is currently covered.

Proposed initiatives include the development of tree protection regulations and investments in programs to control pests such as cottony ash psyllid and Dutch elm disease. The plan would also encourage the city to diversify the species of trees it plants, to avoid a single type representing more than 10% of the inventory.

If approved Monday, the plan will serve as a general guide for city staff; individual measures should still be submitted to the council for budget approval by 2031.

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GREEN BASKET PROGRAM

The city’s new green cart utility program for household organic waste is set to launch in May. As a public service, the program is supposed to cover its operating costs by billing residents directly. Costs to set up the program will begin to kick in in January, but with no invoices issued until the spring, city staff said they needed to find $640,000.

They suggest that council approve the withdrawal of funds from a $1.7 million reserve dedicated to the city’s blue bin recycling program. The remaining funds would then go into a new unified reserve fund for waste, recycling and organics services.

The Third Avenue United Church building in Saskatoon.
The Third Avenue United Church building in Saskatoon. Photo by Matt Smith /Star Phoenix of Saskatoon

THIRD AVENUE CHURCH

Council is asked to approve up to $23,500 for exterior work at the Third Avenue United Church building. The funds would be distributed through the city’s Heritage Conservation Program, which provides up to half the cost of restoration and maintenance projects for designated historic buildings, up to a maximum of $150,000.

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The church is the only real estate council ever designated as an unowned historic building. The building was vacant for years before its purchase in the summer of 2021 by the Saint-Vincent de Lérins Orthodox Church.

The city previously contributed $20,000 in 2020 to help repair the roof of the church.

WAREHOUSE HERITAGE

The owner of the Tees and Persse building at 331 First Ave. N. is requesting a historic designation for the property. If approved by council, the building would be protected from demolition or renovations significantly altering its historic features, including its brick facade and columns. Building owners could also access funds to help pay for upkeep and maintenance.

The building has stood in Saskatoon’s warehouse district since the early 1900s. A report by city planners says it is an example of Chicago’s architectural style and has historical significance of Saskatoon as a manufacturing and distribution center.

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