Jim Rhode

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?

Ensuring people have access to food is critical. As past chair of the Saskatoon Regional Health Authority, I am deeply aware of what our Population and Public Health team called the “food deserts” that exist in some parts of our city. I am committed to a city that supports its residents and access to healthy food. Given this I would support initiatives that include community gardens and incentives to have grocery stores locate in areas that have limited access to food. In addition, I believe employment is pivotal to a person’s health and well-being as well as to their ability to access healthy food. As a result my platform includes supporting small businesses and jobs. We need to keep people working, particularly through these unprecedented times. I am also struck by the cost of our water bills in this City. If we want to support and encourage people to grow their own fruit and vegetable gardens, we need to make watering our gardens more affordable! Finally, I was disappointed to see the farmers market move out of our downtown and would look for ways to rejuvenate this part of our community with food based initiatives.

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 believe there are more important priorities for Saskatoon than an expensive and elaborate building. In my experience with large projects, including the Children’s Hospital during my time as Health Authority Board Chair, I know there are always ways to revisit and revise plans that are this significant to our city. I think we need to ask better questions; if the goal is to support literacy and reconciliation and provide computer access to residents, how can we do that with creativity and inclusiveness, instead of a $134 – million dollar building? I do believe we need a downtown library and that it requires some investment. I also believe that we should invest in our satellite library’s so accessibility to books and technology is closer to where people live and does not require people to have to go to the downtown. I would love to see us be more creative and consider a mobile library, much like the old school bookmobile, where we can have technology travel to communities throughout our city.

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?


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?

Indigenous food sovereignty is an important issue. I believe that in working in cooperation with a wide array of stakeholders, we can find creative ways to address this issue. For example, the Saskatoon Tribal Council and the Saskatoon Catholic School Board have approval to build a new St. Francis School which will be the largest Cree Bilingual school in the world. As part of this initiative there is a need for additional funding to support landscaping and programming that reflects indigenous tradition. This opportunity could lend itself well to both supporting the new school and supporting indigenous food sovereignty beginning with our youth – something I would like to see the city investing in.

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 strongly support affordable housing in the city’s core.

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? 


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?

This is simply not a “yes” or “no” answer. It is dependent on a wide array of factors and would require more information regarding the current traffic patterns, a dialogue with residents and a look at how the current bylaws are being applied.

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?

I believe that public transit is a core and critical service to any city. It is also important that the service be responsive to the needs of its citizens. I have heard concerns from Ward 7 residents about the need for a responsive and timely bus system; which I support. I think it is important that we do a ‘gut’ check before pushing ahead with this project. We need to ask ourselves if this approach is viable and affordable given ridership trends as well as our changing environment due to COVID-19. In addition, the total cost is still unknown but what we do know is that meg-projects typically cost significantly more than estimated. I am also surprised that in discussing the BRT no one seems to be talking about the newly introduced “on-demand” system that is being trialed in parts of Saskatoon. A system that has been shown to work in other Canadian cities. Could this be a more practical solution that allows for timely and responsive bus service without putting significant burden on taxpayers?

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?

I believe that public transit is a core and critical service to any city. It is also important that the service be responsive to the needs of its citizens. I have heard concerns from Ward 7 residents about the need for a responsive and timely bus system; which I support.

I support the new “on-demand” system that is being trialed in parts of Saskatoon. A system that has been shown to work in other Canadian cities. I also support keeping the cost of public transit affordable so those requiring it have access and creating public transit options that are responsive to the needs of those with disabilities – we have a responsibility to keep our community accessible for all.

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?

I have been and continue to be an avid supporter of community programs supporting youth throughout our city; including Care & Share, Help One, the Friendship Centre, to name a few. I believe we have amazing non-profits who are doing exemplary work to support youth with after school programming. I would advocate that the city continue to work with these organizations and the school system to ensure we are meeting the needs of our community.

Given 50% of mental illness occurs in children before the age of 14; I believe we need to do more for our children. As the only councillor running who has a platform that includes the need to address mental health and addictions services, I have proposed the city work with the education and health systems to have mental health workers in our schools to proactively work with our kids!

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?

You will note that as part of my platform, on this year’s International Older Persons Day, I called on the City to do better. I have built strong relationships with older residents in Ward 7 as I have gone door to door to hear their concerns. What I have heard from many of them is concerning. I am hearing that accessibility is a significant issue that we as a city have yet to fully address. Crumbling sidewalks, poorly placed ramps, inaccessible public doors are all adding to the problem. In addition, I am hearing about social isolation as a result of the pandemic. We simply need to be more responsive to the needs of all our residents. I believe the city needs to work closer with the Saskatoon Council on Aging and other partner organizations and would support this as your city councillor.

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? 


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?


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? 

This is an area I would need to learn more about before I am able to determine what measures I would support.

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?


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?

When considering investment in physical infrastructure it must be affordable and fit within the priorities of Saskatoon and its residents.

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?

There are more pressing issues.

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?

Any additional comments?:
Climate change is and will continue to be a pressing priority for all levels of government, and City Council will play a role in addressing these challenges responsibly. However, the expected $19-billion costs of the Low Emissions Community Plan are not responsible for Saskatoon taxpayers. In these unprecedented times we must scrutinize where all of our taxpayer dollars are going and how we support our community today to ensure a healthy and safe future.

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?

I am concerned about our residents health and well-being. As a result I would prioritize those initiatives that focus on diversifying our economy and generating employment as well as improving public health.