City committees talk pathway and tunnel safety, smart meters

City committees talk pathway and tunnel safety, smart meters

“Giving people a pamphlet and telling them to call the police doesn’t solve the problem.”

Author of the article:

Bryn Levy

Saskatoon city hall, seen here in a September 2019 aerial photo.
Saskatoon city hall, seen here in a September 2019 aerial photo. Photo by Liam Richards /Saskatoon StarPhoenix

The first of Saskatoon city council’s committee meetings for this month dealt with a big shift on walkway closures, a close vote on mandatory smart meters and a whole lot of talk about waste…

CLOSURE OF PROBLEM WALKWAYS

Ward 5 Coun. Randy Donauer expressed disappointment with an administration report to the transportation committee on crime and vandalism tied to neighbourhood walkways.

“Giving people a pamphlet and telling them to call the police doesn’t solve the problem,” he said, moving a recommendation to direct the administration to make it easier for homeowners to get walkways adjacent to their properties closed. Donauer’s recommendation passed with only Coun. Hilary Gough opposed.

TROUBLED UNDERPASS

The transportation committee voted unanimously to have the administration focus on safety improvements to the pedestrian tunnel connecting the Confederation Mall to the 300 block of Vancouver Avenue.

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Mayor Charlie Clark put forward the motion during a wider discussion on what to do about all the pedestrian underpasses in the city, which have long been a source of concerns about crime and nuisance behaviour.

Noting the issue has previously become bogged down, Clark pointed to police data showing the Confederation to Vancouver Avenue tunnel is the site of more than half of all calls related to underpasses. He suggested efforts to improve things like lighting and sight lines at that site could later inform work elsewhere.

SMART METERS 

While their numbers are small, the issue of what to do about people who refuse to have smart utility meters installed on their homes has proven tricky. The administration wants council to make the meters mandatory.  Alternate options would charge a fee to homeowners who opt out, to cover the cost of reading their old-style meters.

Coun. Hilary Gough admitted forcing homeowners to use smart meters is “a blunt tool,” but said she felt it was the best way to avoid decades of ongoing work, including possibly having city workers uninstall and re-install different meters as homes change hands.

The recommendation to make smart meters mandatory passed 3-2, with Gough, Mayor Charlie Clark and Coun. Mairin Loewen in favour and Coun. Serena Gersher and Coun. Darren Hill opposed. (Coun. Troy Davies was absent for the vote.)

WASTE STRATEGY GOALS

With a packed agenda, councillors had to avoid wasting time to ensure they had enough time to talk about waste. The committee received three reports from the administration tied to the the city’s waste diversion plan introduced earlier this year. The plan seeks to divert 70 per cent of what is currently deposited at the landfill.

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On Monday, the administration reported that the city’s 2020 diversion rate was 26 per cent, compared to 24 per cent in 2019. The reports also addressed the COVID-19 pandemic’s effect on waste regulations for industrial, commercial and institutional users. Enforcement of recycling regulations for the ICI sector is now projected to begin in the third quarter of 2023, a full year later than the pre-pandemic timeline.

PLANNING FOR EXTREME SNOW EVENTS

The transportation committee unanimously approved a recommendation to city council to direct the administration to develop a formal response plan for extreme snow events. The proposal stems from the freak November 2020 blizzard that crippled the city in the midst of a municipal election.

blevy@postmedia.com

More On This Topic

  1. Saskatoon residents clear snow Monday morning after a record-breaking snow fall.

    Top Stories of 2020: Snowstorm paralyzes city, forces election delay

  2. The pedestrian tunnel between Marlborough Crescent and the east side of Circle Drive at Avenue W on Nov. 4, 2011.

    No way of knowing if pedestrian tunnels contribute to crime: report

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