Update on Transit

As you know by now, a lockout has been imposed on Transit workers by the City. I know this is very disruptive and in some cases quite devastating for residents. For those of you who are directly impacted, I’m very sorry for the inconvenience this is causing you and your families. I hope the information below provides some useful context for this situation. I apologize in advance for the length of this post: there is a lot of information to get through here.

Logistics

The lockout, which took effect Saturday evening, will remain in place until further notice. Access Transit is not affected during the lockout and will continue to function normally. For people who rely on Transit and would like to explore ride-sharing options, please check here. For students and employees at the University of Saskatchewan, visit this page for information on transportation alternatives, check here. We intend to issue refunds for bus passes, but the details of how this will work have not yet been confirmed. Please watch the city website for updates or call 306-975-3100.

Pension

Much of the current stalemate between the City and ATU relates to the pension plan. This is a complex and technical debate, and I’ll do my best to explain the circumstances succinctly.

The most recent valuation of the pension plan was conducted in 2012 and was filed with the Pension Superintendent by the Board of Trustees. This valuation showed a deficit in the plan of about $6.7 Million. This valuation was conducted by AON, which is the independent plan actuary. In response to this valuation, the pension superintendent (who oversees all pension plans in Saskatchewan) has issued a letter to the City instructing us to begin making special payments of $90,000 per month in order to address this shortage.

This year the City bargained with all 9 civic unions in order to reach consensus about the pension changes that are necessary to keep the pension plan in good stead with the Pension Superintendent. These changes would allow the City to avoid paying the $90,000 per month by improving the sustainability of the plan. 8 of the 9 civic unions agreed to the proposed changes, but ATU did not. As a result, City Council passed a bylaw yesterday amending the plan to make these changes. It’s regrettable that this did not take place at the bargaining table, but these changes were necessary to a) safeguard the fiscal health of the city, and b) ensure fair treatment to the other 8 unions who had agreed to the proposed changes. (It’s important to note that the changes do not affect the overall design of the plan, which is a defined benefit plan and will remain so.)

Wages

The City’s last offer to ATU was for a 10% raise over 4 years, and all of the other 8 civic unions have already agreed to this offer. ATU’s most recent counter-offer was a 22.5% raise over 5 years, which at more than double the package agreed to by all other civic workers would represent an unfair deal for many civic employees. If you’re interested in seeing how the latest offer stacks up against national comparisons, you can find that here.

Next steps

The City is interested in getting back to the bargaining table as soon as possible to work towards a contract with ATU, and I’m hopeful that a mutually agreeable solution will be reached quickly. I feel strongly that a reliable, convenient, and comfortable Transit system is essential for Saskatoon in order to be an efficient and liveable City, and we intend to implement a Bus Rapid Transit system in order to transform our current system into one that works for a growing community. I know that resolving the current labour dispute is an important component of building this system, and we will need to make additional investments in Transit in order to make this happen. I look forward to making these improvements with input from residents. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have questions or comments about any of the above.

Take care,
Mairin

Spring News from the City

Here’s an update from the City about all things spring: potholes, street sweeping, and so forth:

The moisture from the rain and snow over the past few days is causing many new potholes to form on all Saskatoon streets.  The Spring Pothole Blitz program, which started on Monday, April 14, is an aggressive program to address potholes in the driving lanes of the high-traffic streets. As a result of snow/rain and cooler temperatures, many of those same streets are littered with new holes.  This set-back requires crews to start over with the Priority 1 and 2 streets, pushing back the other streets that were scheduled for this week.  Inspectors are out checking for changing driving conditions due to new potholes forming and identifying emergency locations on all streets.   Asphalt plants were not producing over the weekend due to weather conditions and the Easter weekend; however, crews resumed pothole repairs again on Monday when asphalt was again available.

Drivers continue to report potholes online with the Report a Pothole map and these locations are inspected daily.  At this time, only the severe locations and those on the high-priority, high-traffic streets are being repaired until we can get caught up. Those locations not repaired will be completed once the spring pothole blitz has ended or in conjunction with the Accelerated Residential Street Sweeping program.

About a third of the locations currently reported on the map are another type of issue resulting from completed City or private underground utility work that required an excavation.  These are known as utility cuts and have a temporary gravel/recycled asphalt cover until they can be properly paved once ground frost is gone.  Graders are maintaining these regularly until they can be patched with asphalt.  Utility cut patching begins today on Priority 1 streets and will continue until winter.

The Street Sweeping Blitz on high-traffic streets and business improvement districts also started on Monday, April 14.  With the rain and snow, sweeping did not occur Thursday through Monday.  Sweeping resumes today and the online schedule has been adjusted.  Sweeping cannot occur when there are pools of water on the street or when sustained sub-zero temperatures are present although they can still continue with a light rain.  Grassy medians and boulevards continue to be swept and sweeping crews are following behind to collect the debris from the street.

The Spring Sweeping & Pothole Blitz schedules are available at saskatoon.ca as part of the Building Better Roads program.  The schedules are being adjusted frequently due to the challenges we have been experiencing, most notably the weather.  With weather forecasts showing stable, warmer temperatures in the coming week, we hope to establish a more productive and regular schedule.

The Accelerated Residential Street Sweeping program is scheduled to begin on May 5.  

Schedules and more information are available at saskatoon.ca as part of the Building Better Roads campaign.  Saskatoon’s Road Plan is a coordinated approach to repair, maintenance and construction, Building Better Roads in Saskatoon.

Update re: detour in Stonebridge

I wanted to provide a brief update to you about the current state of the roadways in Stonebridge. If you have questions that are not addressed by the information below please do not hesitate to contact me.

Preston Avenue: Dundee Developments is presently doing servicing work on Preston Avenue. This work was originally scheduled to be complete on November 8th, and once the work is complete Preston will re-open to traffic. This section of Preston will be restored to a recycled asphalt surface for the winter months. We understand there was some signage incorrectly advertising that this work was to be complete by October 31st, and while we’re not sure where the communication breakdown took place, residents can expect the detour to last for another week or so.

Hunter Road: This road has been reopened in order to accommodate the detour for the work taking place on Preston Avenue. It will be bladed today and will be graveled and maintained throughout the winter. Hunter will remain open even after Preston is back up and running. However, it’s important to keep in mind that this road (as you will have noticed) has not yet been built to a roadway standard. It will remain in a gravel state until the spring of 2014, when servicing work on that road will begin. We expect roadway construction to be fully completed in June. Until then, please use caution in this area and report any concerns with its condition to myself and/or the Public Works hotline at 975-2491.

Sanding/Gravelling: Priority 2 roadways (Gordon Road, for example) are being sanded today. If you notice specific locations which need work, please contact me or Public Works and let us know.

I know this situation has been extremely frustrating for Stonebridge residents, and I appreciate your patience. I will keep you posted as more information about these issues becomes available.

Important garbage-related update for Avalon

On March 21 and 22, scheduled back lane garbage collection wasn’t possible for several neighbourhoods due to the wind and snow conditions. In order to “catch up” on these missed collections, the City will attempt to collect that garbage from the back lanes tomorrow, March 27, starting very early in the morning when the forecasted below normal temperatures should provide more predictable driving conditions for the large collection trucks.

Residents in the following neighbourhoods who did not have garbage collected from back lanes last week, are asked to please place your garbage carts in the back lanefor collection before 5:00 a.m. tomorrow, March 27:

  • Holliston
  • Brevoort Park
  • Nutana
  • Avalon
  • Holiday Park

Some residents in these neighbourhoods placed their garbage carts on the front street today, and that garbage has been collected.  Following the attempt at lane collection in these five neighbourhoods, all areas of the city will have garbage collected from the front street.  If the attempt tomorrow is unsuccessful, the containers will be collected from the front street on the regularly schedule day next week.

RECYCLING COLLECTION UPDATE: VARIOUS NEIGHBOURHOODS

Catching up on recycling collection will also be attempted tomorrow, starting very early in the morning.  Residents in the following neighbourhoods who did not have recycling collected from their back lanes for the last two weeks, are asked to please place your recycling carts in the back lane for collection before 5:00 a.m. tomorrow, March 27:

  • Adelaide/Churchill
  • Exhibition
  • Haultain
  • Nutana
  • Queen Elizabeth
  • Caswell Hill
  • Westmount
  • Holiday Park
  • King George
  • Pleasant Hill
  • Brevoort Park
  • Eastview
  • Holliston
  • Nutana Park
  • Varsity View

All residents are reminded that garbage and recycling collection is temporarily front-street, city-wide until the snowmelt is over and all back lanes are accessible, which is expected to be at least four to six weeks. The regular schedule will be followed as much as possible, and if containers are not collected, residents are to leave them out for collection the following day.

For more information, visit www.saskatoon.ca or call 306-975-2486. The City of Saskatoon acknowledges the inconvenience to residents and thanks residents for their understanding and cooperation during these extraordinary circumstances. 

Monday’s Meeting

Here’s what’s coming up for Monday’s City Council meeting:

 

Council Agenda In Brief

For March 4, 2013

 

 

2013 Snow Melt Management (p32; att. p51)

 

City Council will be asked to:

 

Receive the information on the Infrastructure Services Department’s preparations for the 2013 snow melt.

 

Additional Information:

 

Snow melt management plans are prepared for each neighbourhood.  Important intersections (especially along highways) that may experience flooding in a fast melt are surveyed and monitored regularly.  Public Works has a complete staffing plan in place, as well as inventories of equipment, including emergency pumps and sandbags.  As the weather changes, Infrastructure Services crews will perform snowmelt activities. The communications plan will assist homeowners with preparing for the annual snow melt by providing information and suggestions to protect their property.

 

2012 Municipal Election: Disclosure of Contributions and Expenses – Candidates for Mayor (p54; att. p57)

 

City Council will be asked to:

 

Receive the information on a summary of campaign contributions and campaign expenses of candidates for Mayor for the 2012 Municipal Election.

 

Additional Information:

 

Attached to the report is a summary of the disclosures of candidates for Mayor filed as of 5:00p.m. on Monday, February 25, 2013. There were three candidates for Mayor, with one candidate who failed to file the required disclosures by the February 25 deadline.  None of the candidates who filed have exceeded the limit on campaign expenses.

 

Littering Enforcement (p58; att. p65)

 

City Council will be asked to:

 

Amend the Memorandum of Agreement to provide Community Support Officers with the authority to enforce The Anti-Dumping Bylaw; and the Administration be requested to review and report on the feasibility of including enforcement of the Sidewalk Clearing Bylaw by Community Support Officers, with appropriate consultation with the Business Improvement Districts.

 

Additional Information:

 

The Street Activity Steering Committee, at its meeting held November 14, 2012, during discussion of the above, requested that the City Solicitor report on any littering provisions existing in a City bylaw and the related enforcement.

 

Designation of South West Off Leash Recreation Area and Amendment to the Animal Control Bylaw No. 7860 (p61; att. p86)

 

City Council will be asked to:

 

Designate 14.5 acres within Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area, southwest of the Montgomery neighbourhood as an Off-Leash Recreation Area; and the City Solicitor be instructed to amend the Animal Control Bylaw, 1999, Bylaw No. 7860, to establish 14.5 acres of Block C, Plan No. 101398811 as a designated off-leash area.

 

Proposed Amendment to Bylaw No. 7200, The Traffic Bylaw: U-Turn Restrictions in School Zones (p96; att. p120)

 

City Council will be asked to:

 

Instruct the City Solicitor to amend Bylaw No. 7200, The Traffic Bylaw, to prohibit vehicles from making a U-Turn in school zones, when the school zones are active

 

Additional Information:

 

Due to population growth and the distance from the new neighbourhoods to the schools, more parents are driving their children to school, resulting in safety issues due to congestion, including reduced visibility when reversing and making U-Turns.  Prohibiting U-Turns within all school zones when the school zones are active would ensure greater safety at crosswalks for students, as well as improve traffic flow, which will help to alleviate some of the congestion problems.

 

Parking Infrastructure Upgrade and City Card Replacement AND Parking Policy (p160; att. p165)

 

City Council will be asked to:

 

Approve the Request for Expression of Interest (REOI) (Attachment 1) for the parking infrastructure upgrade, including the following parameters:

 

a)    that all parking meter technologies be acceptable solutions to the infrastructure;

b)    upgrade, including single space and multispace meter systems;

c)     that cash and smart card (City Card) be required methods of payment for parking, and that additional payment options, such as cell phone and credit card, be considered;

d)    that, if required, proposals include communication costs and communication infrastructure costs;

e)    that the vendor clarify whether or not the display of unused time for use by another party is an option, and what the implications might be;

f)      that pricing must be lump sum, with a payment schedule based on a maximum cash payment of $950,000 in 2013, and annual payments thereafter based on actual revenues, with no impact to existing programs;

g)    the retention of the Corps of Commissionaires for the supply of parking enforcement services for the remainder of their five-year contract (end of 2015);

h)    the provision of a minimum of two stand alone parking stations, which allow, at a minimum, the ability to pay for parking tickets and to purchase City Card Time; and

i)       the ability to dispute parking tickets online.

 

Direct the Administration to report back with the results of the Request for Expression of Interest; and in City Council’s discretion, choose solutions that are in the best interests of the City, for inclusion in the Request for Proposals.

 

 

 

 

Summer Update

Hi there,

Happy summer! I hope it’s treating you well. Although Council’s meeting schedule is reduced in the summer months, there are still a few items to report to you.

Turboexpander

At July’s Council meeting a Green Loan($2.25 M) was approved for the completion of the turboexpander project  at the city’s landfill. The turboexpander generator facility is a partnership with SaskEnergy and will be used to recover energy which can be converted into electricity that will be sold to SaskPower under its Green Options Partners Program. The facility has the potential to provide enough power for over 600 homes and offset greenhouse gas emissions by over 3,600 tonnes annually.

Adult Services Bylaw

Council approved the licensing of adult services businesses some months ago, but the question of where these businesses should be zoned was still outstanding until the July Council meeting. Council agreed that such businesses should be zoned to operate in light and heavy industrial areas with a minimum separation distance of 160 meters from residential properties, schools, parks, and recreational facilities. In order to avoid clustering of adult services businesses in one area, Council also asked the administration to take the necessary steps to implement a separation distance of 160 meters between adult services businesses.

River Landing

Council gave approval for the overall development plan at River Landing, subject to some additional reports about landscaping plans, wind studies, and other details of the final building design. Approval was also granted for the release of development permits for the site. After a long period of uncertainty, it seems there may soon be activity on that site.

Alleys

Alley maintenance has been completed in Exhibition and Queen Elizabeth, is mostly complete in Avalon, and is upcoming in Nutana Park, Eastview, and Adelaide Churchill. The rain earlier in the summer has created considerable delays, so I thank you for your patience as this work continues. Please let me know if you have an alley issue and I will do my best to have it addressed.

Schedules

There has been some discussion in the media recently about making Councillors’ schedules public, so I’d like to get your opinion – would you like me to provide updates of events and meetings that I have attended (or will be attending)? If this is of interest I would be happy to include it as part of my updates. Let me know what you think.

Enjoy the rest of the summer and please let me know if you have any questions or concerns.

Take care,
Mairin

Saskatoon’s Streets

You may find this hard to believe, but Saskatoon recently won an award for a road-building program. Here’s the proof:

A recent survey indicates that roads are indeed a major priority for most Saskatoon residents. While a large part of the City’s current predicament stems from under-funding and rapidly rising costs, money alone won’t ensure reliable roads. Innovative approaches like the Green Streets project show the efficiencies that can be gained by building roads differently. As a result of this project’s success, the City is now looking at changing its specifications for road design to incorporate these new tools.