Nick Sackville

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?

Our world produces enough food for everyone, the problem that largely contributes to some experiencing hunger is logistics of distribution. I would like to see us work to minimize food waste and distribute unsellable food from grocery stores and restaurants to those in need. We also need a more robust community garden program. Some in our city are very successful, and other are not as well implemented. Providing more incentives for these programs, like we do for recreational programs, would be a priority for me, so that more people can benefit from a community garden program directly in their area.

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?

There are concerns about the high cost of the project. While the economic case is sound, and the need for a new downtown library is clear, I still believe it is possible to achieve the goals of the project at a lower cost than what was proposed.

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?

Some of our heritage buildings are in desperate need for repair and unfortunately there is very little money in the city’s heritage building fund. I think an important consideration of heritage buildings is whether we can continue to make use of them and enjoy them. I do not believe we should be maintaining buildings that do not provide an economic benefit to our city. These buildings should be given a renewed purpose so they can continue to be enjoyed, and not become a drain on our precious and finite resources.

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?

Saskatoon can contribute to Indigenous food sovereignty by protecting the environment from damage by industries and development while at the same time fostering programs to allow Indigenous people to make use of land in and around our city in a way that honours their heritage and culture. These programs should be led by Indigenous groups in collaboration with the city, and it is our jobs as councillors to facilitate a framework to allow this to happen.

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 our current council has failed in its goal of a balance between greenfield and infill development and it is critical we do a better job of densifying our city. Frankly, the city has not removed enough barriers to level the playing field between greenfield and infill development, and that is why the vast majority of development is taking place at the periphery of our city, creating a large burden on our existing infrastructure, and saddling future generations with a large maintenance burden. I also support affordable housing, specifically where it will make the most impact and where it has the best chance of addressing inequality in our neighbourhoods.

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? 

Emphatically yes. Our zoning bylaw needs a true overhaul to allow for more flexibility to meet the needs of a 21st century city.

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?

Absolutely. This is a critical element of the beauty and walkability of our city, and also our active transportation plan.

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?

Yes, I believe there is extensive support from residents for this initiative. I have heard from many residents in Ward 3 that traffic is a major concern. We need a comprehensive plan to address these concerns not just on streets where residents have the resources and wherewithal to organize and affect change for their local area, but on all our residential streets.

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 transit is a key part of our transportation strategy, and many residents in Ward 3 make regular use of transit services to get to work and school. Some of my neighbours may never own a car, and we should not be negatively impacting their ability to contribute to our economy by not providing good transit. Transit is also key in our ability to densify our city and make more efficient use of our existing infrastructure. The density of our city will reach an upper plateau where streets will be frustratingly clogged if we cannot get more people using 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?

The affordability and accessibility of bus services should be a top priority. Access to information is also key. I would support any initiatives that would make it easier to access transit services. If there is a need among users of the transit system, I want to address it. It should be designed to serve the needs of its users, especially those who are vulnerable and in need of additional support.

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?

We need to provide more supports and recreational facilities for our youth to enjoy. This is also a key aspect of youth mental health which is a serious concern in our city. I would make sure there is adequate funding to support youth activities and that we also partner with first nations to help them deliver these services within their communties in a culturally respectful and engaging way.

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?

Absoultely. I want to be a champion for all my neighbours in ward three, regardless of age or ethnicity or socioeconomic status. This includes our older adults. I’ve heard from many that while they want to continue living in our ward as they move into retirement, there is a lack of housing that would support them in their upcoming life stages. I would work to address the need for more 55+ housing in Ward 3.

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? 

Yes but there are other considerations. There is a city council policy that protects trees and if a bylaw needs to be created I would support that. However, the question doesn’t address whether we are talking about trees on public property or private property or both. While I agree that trees are a shared asset that provide many ecological benefits, I’m concerned about limiting their removal on private property. Do we have the right to impose such a restriction? Infill sites where private trees need to be removed for construction and solar access for energy efficient building are another consideration. I hope to achieve a balance between these competing forces.

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 absolutely. The benefits of trees for our environment in terms of their natural beauty, animal habitat creation, mitigation of need for air conditioning, and cleaning of air are undeniable. But again, a balance needs to be struck between the protection of our urban forest and the need for growth, densification and development. I believe we can achieve a healthy balance here that will satisfy all competing interests.

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? 

These are important areas of ecological and recreational value for our city. There are in fact many swales, some on the west side of the city also, that are in need of our protection and stewardship so we can continue to enjoy their benefits for future generations. Identification of these areas and bestowing upon them protections from development and damage would be a priority for me. Wildlife bridges and protective fences for wildlife would should also be part of our long-term plan to protecting these areas. Finally, minimally invasive infrastructure to support active transportation and recreation through these areas should be prioritized as well.

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?

Yes, not only does active transportation save energy and fossil fuels, but it reduces the burden on our existing roadways which allows them to last longer and need widening and upgrading less frequently. Active transportation is also an important aspect of our physical and mental health.

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?

I believe one critcal element that is lacking in this plan is a comprehensive strategy for cycling. We cannot keep investing in small pieces of infrastructure in isolation. An interconnected system is needed to see true imporvements in active transportation.

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’m not sure a bylaw is the right answer here but I would absolutely advocate for more public washroom facilities, expecially downtown where many of our homeless residents tend to congregate. I would be in favour of an initiative to install more public washrooms operated by the city and also an incentive of some sort for businesses to make their’s available as well. I’ve also seen success in other cities with washroom/shower mobile trailers to help our homeless population with sanitation and that would be something I would support investigating.

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 but we must act soon to minimize the impact of this plan by allowing residents and businesses as much time as possible to adapt to the new initiatives. I also think the plan contains initiatives for fancy items such as solar panels and ground source heat pumps without acknowledging the critical role the building envelopes of our residential and commercial structures play in building efficiency. Plans for deep retrofits or window replacement need to be prioritized, and without those it may make solar panels uneconomic in many situations. I also think mitigation of climate impacts doesn’t factor heavily enough in the plan. How will we address the potential for lack of clean water or severe climate events in the 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?

Helping residents and businesses with incentives and grants to retrofit and renovate their structures would be a great place to start. Housing affordability is a huge concern right now, and ongoing utility costs are a large factor of affordability. We can also put many to work through a comprehensive strategy to renovate our buildings to be more energy efficient, which would be a boon for our local economy. The lack of electric vehicle infrastructure not only for personal transportation but commercial needs is also concerning. We would see a much higher rate of adoption if we had more infrastructure to meet the needs of these types of vehicles in Saskatoon. We also need to look at critical improvements to our transit and active transportation infrastructure so more people will be willing to use these instead of personal vehicles.