Q1 Food: Food is one of our most fundamental basic needs, but not everyone in Saskatoon has access to fresh, affordable food. The Saskatoon Poverty Reduction Partnership’s 12 Bold Ideas to Eliminate Poverty states that making food more affordable includes a combination of reducing food costs, ensuring people have more income to buy food, and ensuring everyone has access to healthy food choices. Building food assets (e.g., emergency food assistance, meal programs, gardening and farming, grocery markets/stores, community supports and education programs) in every Saskatoon neighbourhood would improve access to healthy food, reduce social isolation, drive local economic development, and address food insecurity. What initiatives and policy options will you champion or support to ensure every neighbourhood in Saskatoon has access to healthy and affordable food?
I will continue to support existing policies such as updated vacant lot and adaptive reuse policy that supports and incentivizes urban food production on underutilized sites along with initiatives that see partnership between food security organizations and the City to grow food on city lands as well as engage the community in urban agriculture and food security/sovereignty. E.g. CHEP gardens – new one being established in Victoria Park on the old Lawn Bowling site, fruit tree and shrub plantings along meewasin and an upcoming proposal for fruit trees to replace removed disease trees in an urban Ward 2 park.
In addition, I would like to explore policy options to incentivize the development of a full-service grocery stores in the city’s center/core. A market sounding study this past term helped to determine some of the barriers and the City made itself open for business. Existing policies could apply, and willingness to work with an interested grocery has been communicated. It is clear that something more direct may be required to achieve this outcome ahead of a natural occurrence due to increased residential density, which is progressing, but does not happen overnight. I am committed to exploring what that direct action may be.
Finally, I remain committed to 2 days/week Farmers Market activity at the Farmers Market building. This outcome is non-negotiable in the future use of that building and with 5 days/week public access to the building, other food services and access could easily accompany this. The focus on local food has been stated clearly and is something I am committed to as lease negotiations move forward.
Q2 Arts and Culture: A new central library is an investment that will benefit all members of the Saskatoon community for years to come. The new central library build will generate jobs and economic growth. This will be especially important as we recover from the financial fallout of COVID-19. The total project budget has not changed since it was approved and is $134 million. Since 2009 there have been scheduled incremental increases to the library levy to build the capital reserves for the project. Future increases are scheduled to be $645,000 in the years 2021-2024; and $200,000 in 2025 and 2026. The average homeowner will see increases of less than $5 per year in 2021-2024, and less than $1.60 per year in 2025 and 2026. This schedule fully funds the new central library project, including debt repayment and increases to operating costs once the library is open, which means there are no additional increases related to the new central library project beyond 2026. Do you support the building of a library for downtown Saskatoon, as committed to the current City Council?
I have fully reviewed this project in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on our community. With that consideration in mind, I feel that this project is needed now more than ever. In times of challenge, it is imperative that public bodies invest in local success, and this project will do so both economically and socially as outlined in the question. In addition, the New Central Library project checks nearly all of the boxes for the needed investments in downtown that will help it to flourish as a place to live work and play — something that will help the City to establish and maintain a thriving and efficient tax base (as compared to sprawling development that costs the city and therefore taxpayers more in the long run). Library use in Saskatoon is growing year over year – program attendance peaked at an all-time high in 2019 and there were well over 400,000 public computer sessions that year. Patrons saved over $46M in 2019 in materials borrowing value alone. Imagine the savings community members have made on all other services! The need for these free services will only grow as we recover from COVID-19. A healthy city needs a thriving modern library and Saskatoon deserves this investment. I am proud of Saskatoon for saving for this project over the last 10 years (a full quarter of the project is already in the bank!) and know that because of the careful planning behind this project, we can sustainably achieve this project over the next 6 years together.
Q3 Arts and Culture: Our built and natural environments provide a framework for our urban living. Our buildings and spaces contribute to a unique sense of place and help tell the story of Saskatoon. Our heritage buildings and structures remind us of our history and provide much richness to our surroundings. They are appreciated by residents and play an important role in attracting visitors to our city. If elected, will you champion support for our built heritage?
Yes, I also feel strongly that we need to consider the value of, and establish means of celebrating, non-built heritage. From heritage landscapes and natural heritage to all types of ‘intangible’ heritage, non-built heritage forms an important part of our collective history. If we don’t broaden our focus, we risk telling and preserving the stories and histories of some members of our community while ignoring the contributions and experiences of others. There is expertise at the University of Saskatchewan to be drawn on in this regard and the conversation has begun at the City’s advisory committee.
Q4 Food: Food sovereignty is defined as “the right of peoples to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods, and their right to define their own food and agriculture systems.” Indigenous food sovereignty refers to a specific policy approach to addressing the underlying issues impacting Indigenous peoples and their ability to respond to their own needs for healthy, culturally adapted Indigenous foods. How can the City of Saskatoon contribute to Indigenous food sovereignty?
Community groups and organizations have been leading the way and a few recent projects have moved forward Indigenous food sovereignty discussions, learning and outcomes. Examples include CHEP’s annual askîy urban agriculture program and Kevin Wesaquate’s Misaskwatomina project through the Locals Only art and food project by AKA Artist Run. Misaskwatomina’s goal was to “re-Indigenize Riversdale’s ecology” and included planting workshops and artist engagement.
The City of Saskatoon can contribute to Indigenous food sovereignty by seeking partnerships and community ideas and leadership around the use of public spaces for the growing of local and/or traditional foods and sharing of knowledge about Indigenous food and practices. I am interested in cultivating continued openness to existing projects and new proposals, along with exploring the potential for supporting food sovereignty through expansion or adaptation of existing programs that support local food production more generally (vacant lot and adaptive reuse program for example).
Q5 Urban Planning: One of the goals of Saskatoon’s Strategic Plan (2013-2023) is “Sustainable Growth.” This includes planning for a healthy balance of greenfield and infill development – to grow the city inward and upward as well as outward. Responsible and strategic neighborhood infill would include consulting with the vulnerable populations affected, protecting existing affordable housing and heritage sites, and taking steps to limit sprawl and disparity in living conditions in new neighborhood developments. Do you support providing affordable housing to people living in core neighborhoods to minimize the social and economic displacement that could result from significant increases in infill development?
I believe that supporting affordable housing across the city is critical, but that affordable housing provision in infill areas is key to maintaining affordability in central areas with good access to services, and to the places that people have long called home. I believe that a Rental Housing Strategy, as part of the City’s next affordable housing strategy (2022), will form a key part of addressing pressures relating to infill and ensuring that appropriate civic tools to ensure housing affordability are identified and adopted.
Q6 Urban Planning: Mandatory parking requirements have been shown to increase construction costs and decrease affordability of housing. Some cities — including Edmonton — have done away with parking minimums, to allow the market to decide how much parking to build. Do you support Saskatoon allowing the market to decide how much parking to include with new developments?
Parking minimums are being considered through a full review of the zoning bylaw and I look forward to a comprehensive consideration at that time and feel strongly that an equity lens must be applied to this consideration. In the interim, I am in favour of recent examples where affordable housing rezonings were considered and approved with lower parking provision than the minimum recognizing that many renters in lower income use public or other forms of transportation.
Q7 Urban Planning: The Meewasin Trail is one of Saskatoon’s outdoor recreation treasures, used daily by city residents and visitors for strolling, running, and cycling. Winding under bridges and linking parks and natural areas along both sides of the river, it runs more than 90 kms in length. If elected, will you support the Meewasin trail development plans currently in progress and look for ways to continue to sustain the trail network in Saskatoon?
Q8 Urban Planning: Many Saskatoon neighbourhoods now have speed bumps on residential streets to slow drivers and reduce vehicle noise. Do you support the further expansion of speed bumps as a way to manage the negative effects of car traffic in Saskatoon?
A recent trial had mixed effects, in particular in Ward 2. I am in favour of considering and trying all options (including speed bumps) to slow vehicle traffic to posted speeds, and am in favour of considering the appropriateness of posted speeds and revising them in neighbourhoods, specifically around parks and playgrounds or other high risk areas.
Q9 Public Transportation: Saskatoon has invested significant resources in the development of a Bus Rapid Transit system as part of the City’s Growth Plan (2016). Planning is well underway for a high-frequency, direct bus service along the city’s major corridors and construction is scheduled to begin in 2022. The full system is expected to be in operation by June of 2025. Are you committed to maintaining the timeline to meet the 2025 completion date for the Bus Rapid Transit system?
The deadline requires timely agreements between the Province and Federal Government relating to Infrastructure funding. BRT planning is in place, and I am committed to putting Federal investments to effective use to improve our Transit system in line with those plans. Investment in BRT will make this vital means of transport more reliable and convenient for today’s riders, and a more viable choice for those who do not currently make regular use of Transit.
Q10 Public Transportation: Other enhancements to Saskatoon Transit have been discussed that would make bus service more affordable, accessible, and reliable, while still minimizing greenhouse gas emissions. They include, for example, changes to the fare system, better connectivity, provisions for the poor and disabled, and improved communications. What are your priorities in further enhancing Saskatoon Transit to meet the needs of all people in Saskatoon?
Continuing to expand on successes relating to accessibility in the Transit system is a high priority for me – this includes at and around stops and the adjacent pedestrian infrastructure.
I am interested in exploring targeted service expansions (hours, frequency), specifically to improve accessibility to lower-wage workers and to attract new riders.
I am interested in seeing fares reviewed with an equity lens – reducing barriers for transit use among youth, and low income individuals and families. There are many creative options to make a targeted impact to transit access and therefore access to everyday work and activities.
Q1 Equity: Many youth in our city have limited access to safe, healthy activities after school and in the evening. Within Saskatoon’s marginalized populations, many parents or guardians are either working or not present. This can leave youth at risk of engaging in unhealthy behaviours such as drug use or gang activity. If elected, what will you do to ensure that these young people have access to safe, healthy activities/programs after school and in the evening?
Current supports include support to community associations for recreation/programming, grants to community based organizations that work with youth, and the direct provision of programming in parks and at leisure centers. These efforts form an integral network of programs and resources and some of this direct programming has been designed to meet needs in under-served areas, but gaps remain. I am committed to further equity-based programming or funding to help to fill that gap as informed by direct engagement with neighbourhood youth, community leaders, educators, and families to further advise city administration.
Q2 Equity: The largest population increase in Canada and Saskatchewan over the next 30 years will be in the over age 65 age group. In that time span it is estimated that this group will grow to comprise 25% of the country’s population. In Saskatoon the over 65 population now stands at just over 13% of our population. By 2032, that figure is expected to grow to 20%. The city and province need to begin acting now to ensure we are prepared to support and include this new demographic of older adults who want to be active participants in community development and enriched community engagement and inclusion. An age-friendly community is a designation accepted world-wide for cities and communities that are working to make the following elements more age friendly: outdoor spaces and buildings; transportation; housing; respect and social inclusion; civic participation and employment; communication and information; social participation; and, community and health services. Would you support applying an age-friendly lens to all new policies and practices in Saskatoon to ensure the voices and needs of older adults are represented?
The consideration of age-friendliness must also take into account intersecting barriers to social participation and wellbeing such as income disparity, and marginalization.
Q3 Environment: Urban forests across Canada and globally are recognized as a municipal asset and part of a city’s infrastructure because of the ecological benefits they confer. Many cities have bylaws in place to protect trees. However, Saskatoon still does not have such a bylaw. As a result, trees are often removed without consideration for the long-term impact and in the absence of scientific evidence on good urban tree management. Do you support creating a tree protection bylaw for our city?
Work to update and strengthen the City’s existing Tree Protection policy is underway and will consider the adoption of a Tree Protection Bylaw. I look forward to supporting further protections for the urban forest learning from demonstrated models in other jurisdictions helping us to determine what will be most effective in Saskatoon. Existing protection measures are in place, but more complete protections can, should, and are being, explored. I’m ready to adopt the best one for Saskatoon.
Q4 Environment: Urban forests across Canada and globally are recognized as a municipal asset and part of a city’s infrastructure because of the ecological benefits they confer. Many cities have bylaws in place to protect trees. However, Saskatoon still does not have such a bylaw. As a result, trees are often removed without consideration for the long-term impact and in the absence of scientific evidence on good urban tree management. Do you support the development of a long-term strategy for ensuring that protection of trees is part of sustainable planning?
Yes, as above, I am in support of smart and strong policy to protect and manage the urban forest in Saskatoon recognizing that it is the only ‘asset’ that we have that grows in value over time rather than the opposite. It needs to managed to grow and renew the long term benefits.
Q5 Environment: There is less than 5% of natural grassland remaining in and around Saskatoon, and only 11-13% remaining in all of Saskatchewan. Every year Saskatchewan loses over 10,000 acres of wetlands and the many ecological benefits these areas provide. For these reasons, Saskatoon’s Northeast and Small Swales are especially valuable, providing habitat, flood protection, carbon sequestration, and recreation for a large area of the city. Their loss would have a negative impact on residents. Many major developments are planned for the northeast sector of Saskatoon, including a major provincial highway, industrial development, and new neighbourhoods surrounding the Swales. What measures would you support to ensure long term environmental protection for Saskatoon’s Northeast and Small Swales, and safety for animals and drivers, cyclists and pedestrians?
I am in favour of proceeding with a process by which the Swales are fully surveyed and delineated so that development and other protections can be further formalized. This is currently a barrier.
With respect to transportation infrastructure, past efforts to maintain planned moderate traffic speeds have been eroded, but opportunities exist to ramp up partnership with the MVA and others to educate residents and passers-through about the value and ecological significance of the swales – in celebration and also to promote a greater awareness and sense of responsibility for these sensitive and valuable areas.
Q6 Active Transportation: Saskatoon has levied above-inflation residential property tax increases for the last several years. A City of Victoria study found that it costs a municipality $0.01 (one cent) in maintenance for every kilometer of a trip on foot compared to $1 (one dollar) in maintenance for every kilometer of a trip taken by car. Do you support increasing investment in active transportation as one strategy for reducing the amount the City of Saskatoon spends on road maintenance costs?
A connected network of active infrastructure is required to improve the mode-share of any active mode, and ultimately reduce overall transportation spending. I am in support of this investment both for reduced capital and operating costs overall, but also in support of improved equity and environmental outcomes.
Q7 Active Transportation: The City’s Active Transportation Plan (ATP) released in 2016 set out the following vision: In 2045, Saskatoon is a leading city for active transportation, where walking and cycling are convenient, comfortable, attractive, fun and normal ways of moving around the city year round for residents and visitors of all ages and abilities. The ATP target is to double walking and cycling trips to 24% of all daily trips and 15% of all commute trips by 2045. Ensuring cyclists and pedestrians feel safe will be one of the keys to achieving these goals. Do you support the City of Saskatoon investing in the necessary physical infrastructure to safely separate cycling traffic from both vehicular traffic and pedestrians?
Yes. A connected network of cycling options are critical and pedestrian comfort in all areas is necessary. In terms of cycling routes, where the infrastructure conditions require separated infrastructure, I am in favour. There are many roads and routes where separated infrastructure is not required, nor best practice, and all cycling-supportive and walking-supportive infrastructure and calming options must be considered.
Q8 Health: Access to public washrooms is a fundamental human right. The United Nations General Assembly declared that everyone, without discrimination is entitled to “have physical and affordable access to sanitation, in all spheres of life, that is safe, hygienic, secure, and social and culturally acceptable, and that provides privacy and dignity.” Access to public washrooms affects everyone in the community and is especially critical for seniors, pregnant women, young children, those with certain medical conditions, and those who are homeless. COVID-19 has highlighted the need for more public washrooms in Saskatoon. Relying on private businesses or non-profit organizations to meet the basic needs of our community is inequitable and amplifies discrimination of some people. In 2017 Washington DC passed a bylaw mandating that city to install 10 public standalone washrooms that are open 24/7, and proposed a program to incentivize private businesses to open their washrooms to the public. Do you support Saskatoon passing a similar bylaw, which will ensure 24/7 access to public washrooms?
I am strongly in favour of improving access to public washrooms in our city for the health and dignity of all and am committed to bringing forward initiatives and a strategy to establish new 24hr public bathrooms in the city center. I am also supportive of a city-wide strategy. Earlier this year I was part of the follow up by the InterAgency Response to COVID-19 that saw the City’s public bathrooms along the river re-opened safely understanding that access needed to be re-established especially while other public facilities remained closed. I am unsure whether a bylaw is the right tool and am open to learning more. Undeniably though, resourcing is key to making progress on issues relating to infrastructure and its operations, and I am committed to establishing resourcing for initial projects (and see Federal safe restart funds as an opportunity) and working toward the planning and resourcing of a broader strategy.
Q9 Climate Change: Urban areas are responsible for around two thirds of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. They are also greatly affected by climate change. Therefore, cities have a critical role to play in mitigating and adapting to global warming. The City of Saskatoon has national and global commitments to address climate change issues, as a member of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, and as a signatory to the 2015 Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy. The City of Saskatoon Climate Action Plan includes strategies for climate change mitigation (Low Emissions Community Plan, or LEC Plan) and proactively adapting infrastructure, services, and programs (Adaptation Strategy). Although the Low Emissions Community Plan has been approved by City Council and many actions are moving forward, many others have not been progressing as planned. Only 10 out of 25 actions that are to be started in the next 4 years (Phases 1 and 2) have been funded. According to the Saskatoon’s Corporate Risk 2018 Annual Report, the City may not be prepared for the effects of climate change, which represents a medium level risk to the overall corporation. One of the main stalemates for the Low Emissions Community Plan has been ensuring the long-term budgeting, as this plan is a 30-year long strategy. Do you support the city committing long-term funding to implement the Low Emissions Community Plan?
Yes, and have been a part of establishing a reserve for this purpose along with both annual and revolving fund contributions to this reserve.
Q10 Climate Change: The 40 actions set out in the LEC Plan will provide a host of benefits beyond environmental protection, such as improving public health, diversifying our local economy, improvement, and increasing equity and quality of life. What actions from the Low Emissions Community Plan would you prioritize to be implemented in your Ward or the City as a whole?
Some of the actions I’m eager to move forward with as a result of their benefits to residents in Ward 2 are:
- improvement of our residential buildings through energy retrofits and efficiencies. In particular, I’m interested in equity-based work as the lead to this, such as with the program recently rolled out in partnership with SaskPower whereby lower income residents are provided retrofit support to improve efficiency and reduce household operating costs
- Transportation improvements to support transit and active transportation options, both of which are more affordable than single vehicle use and improve physical and social wellbeing individually and at the population level.