Sarina Gersher

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 appreciate the approach that The Saskatoon Poverty Reduction Partnership has taken in ensuring first voices and lived experience are at the table. We are always better off having a program that works for folks most directly impacted by that program. Some of the food programs I have worked in include setting up local community gardens (Ward 8 has large gaps in community gardens) and supporting local food access at the River Landing Farmer’s Market Square. I am always committed to meeting with community groups.

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 supported the request for debt financing of the New Central Library as I believe the library prepared a strong business case about the need for a new space, their repayment plan and their expanded ability to offer the needed services of the library.

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?

I am always committed to meeting with community groups, especially those with lived experiences and first voices regarding Indigenous food sovereignty. The City thrives through partnerships as it offers a way to support a greater range of programs and services.

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?

The City has targets for affordable housing (along the housing spectrum). I would be open to exploring further options along the housing spectrum in partnerships with housing and community groups.

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? 

I am open to further reviewing these requirements. There is currently a zoning bylaw review underway that may touch upon parking minimums in the zoning bylaw.

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?

I have been proud to support Meewasin over the past term, including ensuring sustainable long-term funding from the City, partnering on projects (the Swale, trail expansions, washroom facilities, tourism and education corridors). Meewasin plays a critical role in supporting public green spaces.

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?

I supported a pilot to test the effectiveness of speed bumps. I look forward to seeing the results of the second year of the pilot. If effective I would support this as another traffic calming tool.

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 have supported the BRT project even before being on City Council. The BRT is integral to the future growth of our city. The current transit system (hub and spoke model) has outgrown the needs of Saskatoon and we need to update the system to one of high frequency routes. This will ensure we have accessible, efficient and frequent transit to suit the needs of current and future riders. The BRT system is also paired with mindful density along the BRT corridors to further support transit oriented development.

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?

A fare review is currently underway. I look forward to receiving the review and providing longer term predictability for future fares. I am proud that our transit system is 100% accessible, with growing enhancements (e.g. audio announcements). The introduction of real-time transit information has been great. Building on more technology includes hopefully opportunities for more e-commerce (e.g. purchasing tickets through your phone or online). Furthermore, representing developing neighbourhoods – I was also proud to lead the introduction of transit into Brighton beginning in 2021.


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? 

Partnerships are one important tool to building a community for all. Some of the partnerships we have for recreation and youth programming are with our community associations. These groups are supported with in kind resources, as well as grants to support operations. Another example of partnerships include spaces like White Buffalo Youth Lodge and its programming and operations there. Continuing to support partnerships and meeting with our community organizations to address any gaps in programming and community needs remains a priority.

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?

Building a community for all generations encompasses ensuring folks of all ages can enjoy the city, whether it be through recreation, affordability or transportation choices. Saskatoon should be an age-friendly city.

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? 

The City of Saskatoon has a tree bylaw to protect public trees. It is only in instances of a tree dying, having a disease or a safety concern that public trees can be removed. An urban forest plan is currently being worked on for the City, which will likely include consideration of private trees. It is important to protect our urban forest and remains a priority of mine.

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?

I was proud to support the Green Strategy, which looks at holistic city planning of our natural assets (e.g. trees, swales, parks) and how this can better be balanced and incorporated into an urban environment.

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 have been a strong advocate for the Northeast Swale and the Small Swale. This work extends from forming the Northeast Swale Working Group to discuss items unique to the Swale (speeds, ecological monitoring, development in and adjacent to the Swale, boundaries of the Swale). It remains a priority for me to protect this unique natural space.

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?

I support implementation of our Growth Plan, including the Active Transportation Plan.

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?

There can be conflict between various modes of transportation as pedestrians, cyclists and motorists move at different speeds. In each case, there are vulnerable users. Having safe spaces for people to move around the city is important. This should be considered through retrofitting spaces and as new neighbourhoods develop.

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?

Having access to public washrooms is important. I am not sure if a bylaw would be the best way forward. Until I have further information I will answer no, but would be open to further discussions. I will mention that I have supported access through public and free spaces like the new washrooms at the Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan site (24 hrs) and the New Central Library. Additional spaces include River Landing, near the Meewasin Rink and the Remai Modern.

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?

The LEC Plan and our Local Actions Plan (adaptation) provide a road map to reach our climate targets. I remain committed to fund this work and work alongside the community in its implementation. There are great examples in the LEC Plan of win-win-win for residents, businesses and the environment, such as PACE Financing which would lower utilities for residents, create more construction jobs and lower our GHG emissions from buildings.

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?

The LEC Plan is a roadmap for action and highlights the order at which projects should proceed. I believe the order of items should proceed as highlighted in the plan. I was proud to support some of the first items, including working on a solar strategy, EV charging stations pilot, PACE financing program development and a water conservation strategy. This is above work funded through the Growth Plan (e.g. BRT, infill, active transportation).