All right everyone, the first column for Metro is up. I’m reasonably pleased with it as being forced to severely edit makes the writing a lot tighter. I think. I’ve been staring at it all Sunday so I’m not really sure what to think about it anymore. I’ll also be blogging starting this week over there – just getting some technical things hashed out – which is good, since I’ve been taking a break and now my brain is full.

Anyways, here’s the permalink to the Urban Compass column page on the Metro. I’ll have the blog link up as soon as there’s something to read there. 

So, it’s official – I’ve signed the papers and everything, and as of June 3rd, you’re going to start seeing a column from me occasionally in Metro Saskatoon. That’s right, I’m selling out. Part of the deal is that I move my glittering prose over to their blog. The hardest part about this decision was explaining to my parents that I’m going to be a published columnist on municipal politics. (‘Mom, Dad, I’ve been talking to politicians. And blogging. And doing podcasts. I’m sorry, I know you didn’t raise me this way.”) This may come as a terrible blow to you, but we all must keep a stiff upper lip and soldier through. (I’ve been watching an awful lot of Downton Abbey lately. The second season isn’t as good as the first, however. Too much sensationalism, not enough prejudiced old Dowager Countess.) However, they are going to be paying me for my efforts, which is nice, and they’ve also promised to edit with a light touch, so you’ll probably just be seeing fewer adverbs and no asides regarding BBC television shows. I’ll also still be over at ourYXE frothing about urbanism and city building, while striking fear into the hearts of city officials with my incisive and devastating attacks. My Twitter account is entirely within my jurisdiction so don’t expect to see much change there aside from blatant advertisements for the Metro column and frequent confirmation that I am not, indeed, short.

Since the Metro values things like brevity and putting photographs on blog posts, my 10,000 word missives summarizing the agenda are going to take a back seat – I’ll be highlighting things, of course, and doing a running commentary on Twitter as I read them, but no longer will I be achieving NaNoWriMo levels of wordery every month. Which, frankly, is a bit of a relief. I was starting to dread the task – and I know you guys really like them – but this will hopefully keep the best bits of snarkery without the accompanying drudgery. Plus, did I mention I’m getting paid?

I’ll have a link up redirecting everyone to Metro once I read through all my emails here and figure out the process. I know all 5 of you regular readers will appreciate this. Feel free to direct any ire towards the editor of Metro Saskatoon and/or public replies on Twitter. I will warn you though, I’ll only respond to the creative ones.

Due to forces beyond my control (the weather, and the presence of patios) I haven’t finished reading the agenda. Except for the letters, the only interesting part of which is the continued (albeit one-sided) correspondence between the anti-spraypark dermatologist and Tiffany Paulsen. He’s doing an impressive job of embodying the unrelenting assault on the senses that he claims the spraypark has.  At this rate she will have to file a human rights complaint that he is negatively affecting her quality of life. Oh and September (I think) is the National Realtors’ Safety Week, in which they raise awareness about safety issues for realtors. I am not quite sure what this entails, possibly things like “Do not turn on the light switch while standing in a pool of water” or “Gas stoves are not a toy” or “If your client shows up carrying a shovel, several large garbage bags, and a bucket of lime, you should probably not spend a lot of time showing them the basement”. I had not realized that it was so dangerous to be a realtor that we needed a national awareness week. At least if a realtor goes missing we won’t have to worry about not having a good picture of them to show on the evening news. Zing! And now I won’t be able to buy a house in this town, ever. Well, at least from the realtors that can read. Ok, I’ll stop with the realtor jokes now. Some of my best Twitter followers are realtors.

There’s also a Q1 update on the city’s progress on various Strategic Goals, which is always hilarious, some guff about the commuter bridge and that’s as far as I got. I will be watching the meeting tonight if my husband doesn’t up and leave me, and I’ve got a couple things up my sleeve.

Also stay tuned, I’ve got some exciting developments, me-wise, not city-wise. I know, change is bad, but you’re just going to have to lump it.

I forgot to talk about the bit establishing a Legal Opinion reserve, to the tune of $27,500. Councillors and the mayor would be able to access this funding in order to obtain a legal opinion on things such as conflicts of interest. This is when the matter is outside the purview of the City Solicitor’s office. No reason is given why conflict of interests are singled out here, and Councillors can only access the account once per case, at a maximum of $2,500 a pop. I also don’t know if this would be covered by FOI either.

Sorry guys, it’s mostly just requests for proclamations and noisy events this month. You people are letting the side down. Even the ones who wrote in about things are just the usual suspects (although no letter from Mr Regier, he must be taking a month off).

First salvo is from Ken, an indignant anti-RAGger. He’s dutifully clipped out Elaine Hnatyshyn’s recent Express column asking Council to “Tell us the real cost of Remai Art Gallery”, which, good luck with that. Also the Express missed a great opportunity to use the hed “From Riches to RAGS”, which saddens me greatly. My advice to councillors, when asked about capital cost of any project, is to reply, “Eleventy-billion dollars” with a straight face and then refuse to answer any more questions. Sure, the press may hate you but look at it this way, you’ll get the pull-quote for sure. Nobody’s going to believe whatever actual number you toss out, anyway.

An anti-fluoride letter, reminding Saskatoon that Calgary doesn’t fluoridate.

Festivals/events asking for noise waivers etc.:

  • River Lights Festival, July 26-28
  • Central American pavilion, Folkfest, Lion’s Arena, Aug 14-18th
  • Bridge City Boogie, June 9th
  • Pleasant Hill Community Powwow, Grace Adam Metawewinhik Park, June 14th
  • WW Ashley Park Playground opening, June 15th – asking for street closure
  • Rib Fest, Diefenbaker Park, August 4th
  • Easter Seals Drop Zone, Carlton Tower, August 27
  • aka gallery’s Street Meat Public Dance Party, River Landing Amphitheatre, July 7th (this sounds interesting)
  • SIIT Pancake Breakfast, 229 4th Ave S, June 7th

May 5 to 11 is Emergency Preparedness Week; there’ll be a display on 23rd showing citizens “how the City is prepared for an unusual emergency”. No details are provided as to the nature of this emergency so feel free to speculate. It’s unusual!

Golf Fest (come on, guys, it really should be Golfest…the tagline could be “Golf, Golfer, Golfest” HIRE ME) is also asking for an exception to the no-golfing rule in order to put on a PGA Tour member demo, driving balls across the river. Golfers with an eye to opportunity will note that they’re asking for an exemption to bylaw 7767 between the hours of 10 and 3 on July 2nd. Golf is a really funny word when you type it repeatedly.

Otto from 7th St E. got a parking ticket for not moving his car in 36 hours. They even tried to tow his car. This is only the second time I’ve seen or heard of someone getting their car towed for the 36 hour rule. For god’s sake, there was a truck on *blocks* last year on Spark. Stop towing Otto and go to Forest Grove!

Neale Hall, a serial letter-writer, just wants people to be nicer to homeless people. Me too, Neale.

Les Henry has conducted a study on salt and says that, per his research, there’s not enough salt in the water melting outside the Central Avenue snow dump to justify obeying the, uh, law and building an environmentally friendly dump site. He also mentions photos of garbage at the snow dump but sadly these are not included.

Boychuk Developments wants to put up a 6 foot fence 4 feet from the property line, 2 feet closer than allowed. This is in Rosewood, so who cares. (This may seem unusually harsh but remember we declared Rosewood to be universally meh? Well, I did, and I make the rules around here.)

James Polley from Allan’s Landscaping has a point regarding snow dump fees. Since everyone benefits when snow is dumped, presumably, he proposes having a dump fee levied as part of our taxes, not a user fee.

Olivia from King Crescent wants to be added into the parking permit program as she’s worried that the new RPP extension will result in people parking in front of her house. Since the streets weren’t originally designed to handle 2 ton vehicles with encellphoned drivers, it’s making her neighbourhood unsafe. I’d say the larger problem here is the poor street design, unsafe intersections, complacent motorists, high speed limits, a culture of entitlement and a lack of accountability, but what do I know? Killing people is an indictable offense, unless you do it in a car and say they jumped out in front of you. Give her a parking pass until you fix the larger problem, I guess.

Jim Reiter, minister for something, has a thing about the mill rate ratio thing that they’re doing to control RMs’ taxation in the name of small government or something. Blah blah tax fairness. Jim Reiter has an atrocious signature, bloated and convoluted with secretive loops, defensive arcades, and a partial obliteration of his last name.

Leo is writing in about UFC. He doesn’t like it, and as a member of a credit union, doesn’t want to support it. (Credit Union Centre wants to bring it in.) Having watched UFC, I’m inclined to agree with him; it’s not much of a sport. Boxing is about as violent as I get, and I even have issues with hockey now. I’ve just seen too many people with head injuries to regard it as entertaining. I still really like Olympic hockey, though.

Sharon Elder writes in reminding the City that they’re doing a scandalous job of clearing pathways and bike lanes/streets. Full disclosure: Sharon helps run the Bike Valet service and is involved with Saskatoon Cycles. The MUP she’s talking about runs along the north side of Attridge, but it’s safe to generalize to paths everywhere. The Stew Uzelman Pedestrian Bridge is especially fun these last few weeks – whatever’s not covered in gravel and grit is decorated with dog shit and garbage. Huzzah, spring.

Phil wants the City to clean up the bus mall, specifically the windows on the bus shelters. He’s right, if you treat transit facilities as second-class, transit riders will feel second-class and will be perceived as second-class. Sometimes I wonder what would happen if the city prioritized walkway/pathway cleaning as much as they did streets. I’m sure it would eventually result in a shift of perceptions, albeit after a veritable typhoon of invective. Perhaps this is the “unusual emergency” SPS is preparing for.

Novakoski is writing in about a proposed asphalt plant on 48th St E. As an autobody and paint repair place, grit and particulate in the air places an additional burden on their ventilation systems. (Nobody wants their car to be excitingly textured when they repaint it, apparently.) They then go on to list the toxic fumes emitted from asphalt plants, which concerns me as someone working 2 blocks from one. Which raises a larger question – how is ASL permitted to continue operations when it’s within blocks of residential areas on either side? As I understand it, the city wants to make the industrial area between 33rd and 42nd into a sort of lighter, industrial-park type thing, which doesn’t bode well for ASL’s current location. I agree, let’s boot ASL out of the city to a specific environmentally hazardous park. It’ll save 39th at any rate, which should cover the costs of cleaning up the site.

Roy Rodgers (I’d make a joke here but I bet he’s reeeeallll tired of hearing it) just wants the city to fix the main break properly the first time. They’re currently on water main break #4. He’s very polite.

Edward Danneberg is a busy man. He’s busy tabulating all the bus riders on the “terrible decision” that is the #3 Riversdale bus route. Specifically, the city changed the route to jog south of Schuyler St. for a block in order to graze the tip of the Saskatoon French School, on Wellington St.

He has written no less than four times to council in the last year, three of which were about the bus route. (The fourth was about the website. He was not in favour of it either. Here are his thoughts on the website: “Saskatoon does not need a state of the art “Las Vegas” website. Why not hire a good IT pro in-house for $60K a year? You’d be able to update it very nicely over time, add anything that comes up, update it daily and give someone a job for 10 years!!!!!!!!”) If I were Councillor Lorje, I would buy a cactus, name it Edward, and stick it outside in a snowbank all winter. All good councillors practice horticultural voodoo as a coping mechanism. Also, I would hesitate to use Las Vegas as an example of state-of-the-art.

Back to the ridership tally. He calculates that the number of people getting on has “NEVER” been more than five people at once. The cost of this route, he says, cannot be overstated. He then goes on to overstate the costs. Since this route change, sections of Avenue N have had to be repaved every year. Due to the overloaded buses.

Ashley is tired of people dumping garbage behind her dad’s house on Avenue X N. The latest indignancy is a couch. She’s a former councillor from Kindersley and is ashamed that council doesn’t take these sort of things seriously. This is the big city. When people dump large pieces of unwanted household items, we don’t call the city. We set up parody accounts on Twitter. Look for @AlleyCouch coming to the #yxe feed soon.

The Intergenerational Society of Canada (yes this is a thing, apparently) would like June 1st to be declared as Intergenerational Day.

The MS Society wants May to be declared as MS Awareness Month. Knowing several people with MS, every month should be MS Month. Especially since we have a disproportionate amount of people in Saskatchewan with this disease.

Sask Innovation Week wants October 21-26th declared as Innovation Week 2013. That’s right, the organization is called Sask Innovation Week. The message, they are on it.

June 12 is most likely going to be Filipino-Canadian Day, as I doubt Council will reject it.

June 2013 is Recreation and Parks Month. I am getting awfully tired of listing these requests. Fortunately there is only one more thing and it’s June 16th to 22nd as the 15th Annual Native Prairie Appreciation Week, which could mean any number of things but in this context it’s about ecosystems.

Oof, that’s it. Have fun tomorrow, kiddos. I am now taking bets on the most contentious issue.

Further to the Vantage Developments thing – they have some non-standard stuff in here. I’ll copy and paste it for your information.

Non-Standard Items:

1.    That the Developer pay a proportionate share for the construction of a flyover interchange to be funded 50% by the owners, with the remaining 50% payable by the City.

2.    The existing sanitary trunk sewer system for the neighborhood was originally designed to accommodate a lower flow rate. The Developer will pay a prorated share based on ownership multiplied by 15.61% of the total cost of construction for a remedial trunk sewer system to allow for the increased flow.

3.    The Developer will pay a Transition Area Enhancement Levy that will provide funds for the development of the zone surrounding the wetlands in the Rosewood Neighborhood which will include a rebate if a supplemental funding source is secured prior to construction commencing.

4.    The Developer is responsible to prepare independent high ground water studies and to carry out any remediation procedures that the consultant’s study and or City deem necessary.

5.    The overall neighborhood will have many amenities that the Developer has agreed to cost share with other developers at the time of construction.

I wanna know what these “many amenities” are.

p.159 is a summary of various fees assessed to developers per metre. If you’re curious it comes to $2657.10 per front metre with an additional Storm Pond Dedication Charge of $3,718.85 per hectare and a Servicing Agreement Fee of $2,262.00 per agreement. Also there is the “Trunk Sewer Levy, Primary Watermain Levy, Lift Station Levy, Parks and Recreation Levy, and Community Centre Levy calculated at an area rate of 169 equivalent front metres per hectare. Area rate: 169 X $2,069.60 = $349,762.40 per hectare.”

Now we’re onto the first instance of the Administration and Finance report. Numero uno is the annual report from the Advisory Committee on Animal Control. Numero, uh, deux is the Saskatoon Environmental Advisory Committee’s annual report. Three is a request for sole-sourcing the radio network, fourth is a request for two half-ton trucks and a “trackless” snow plough. There is also a bit about the water and sewer inspection rate review, the “Pesticide Reduction Awareness Campaign”, and the feeble response to Charlie Clark’s 2009 request for street events. Oooh and the travel survey, the results of which will be an excellent political football. There’s also a bit about the bike tax, sorry, the dedicated funding for Active Cycling Infrastructure, also known as the Active Transportation Infrastructure Reserve. Oh and bus re-painting, 36 hour parking limits, and front-street garbage collection.

Only 5 orders for destruction were issued last year for dangerous dogs.

The SEAC report is depressing. It’s all stuff we should have been doing a bajillion years ago, like LEED buildings, storm-water management, alternative transportation policies and emissions reductions. The SEAC is like a small squeaky proto-mammal trying to change the direction of the petroliferous dinosaur that is Saskatoon. We all know how that story ended, so the current SEAC will be left to repopulate the world after we all die from lack of car.

Huh, the Parks Branch has been herbicide-free since 2004. I figure, if you wouldn’t spray it inside on your carpet, why put it outside on your lawn? I dunno about you guys, but this household is herbicide-free. I recommend it, but then I recommend not doing anything that is ultimately pointless and will cost you time and money to boot. Also, whatever happened to just pulling weeds?

Next is the Administration’s weaksauce response to Cllr Clark’s request for info about temporary closure of streets for bikes and walking, aka Ciclovias/Parkways/Open Streets. Portland, of course, has a Sunday Parkways program that goes once a month, on, uh, Sundays. (Some great pics in that link.) Vendors come out and sell food and drink, the cops keep the peace, and people who otherwise wouldn’t walk or bike come out for the day. Calgary also has Open Streets. Some cities in South America like Bogotá have massive ones where over 2 million people come out every Sunday to have fun – they even have free yoga and aerobics classes. (Bogotá has been doing this since the 70s.) It sounds like a great thing that doesn’t require a lot of investment, encourages active transportation and healthy lives, and increases the attractiveness of Saskatoon to tourists. None of which matters since the Administration has no money for them. However, they are “open to receive applications for street closures from organizers of Open Streets events” so let’s get on this, people. Oh, but not this year, as applications would have to be in before March 1st. Goddamn bureaucracy. The report was delegated to a traffic engineer-in-training, whiiiiich tells you how much your City actually cares about this sort of thing. I imagine Charlie Clark also has several dead cacti in his backyard as well. (When you read the Letters bit next you’ll know what I’m talking about.)

The transportation survey has been covered elsewhere at length but I’ll pick a couple things out. First, only 3,500 households are going to be surveyed. They’re also going to over-sample U of S students. Let me save them some money. Students want to get to campus juuuust before their first class starts and they want to leave campus juuuust after their last class ends. Having hour-long service intervals in the evening is unacceptable. Also they want convenient access to grocery stores and bars, with increased service to shopping districts on the weekends during the day. Not to mention better Sunday service to campus for studying at the library.

They’re also going to ask people out of town about their travel habits. Really? Is 3,500 a big enough sample size?

The Active Transportation reserve bit is depressing. Sadly I think it’s going to be the most debated in an otherwise lacklustre evening. One fun thing I learned is that you can call in and report delinquent sidewalks, something I plan on doing early and often. (I may or may not be on first-name basis with the Parking Enforcement people already.) There are also some platitudes about how the city encourages active transportation. See above Ciclovia rant.

Next part is about the repainting of DART buses. I’ve squawked about this elsewhere (ourYXE podcast, out tomorrow) but it appears I was wrong on a couple points. They’re not spending extra money to paint the green buses blue –  it’ll just be part of the regular maintenance schedule. I wonder how often the buses do have to be repainted. Anyway, only 10% of people surveyed recognized a DART bus as being green (I had no idea and I ride semi-regularly) so there’s no real point in maintaining a separate fleet when buses are in short supply.

One thing that might also get a bit of debate is the 36 hour parking limit and/or the front-street garbage collection (scheduled to return back to ‘normal’ by May 18th.)

The A & F report is repeated again in here. I’d copy-and-paste my previous remarks but that seems unnecessarily cruel. My beef is with the agenda-maker, not you.

Executive Committee report. If I was organized, I’d do a mini-writeup when I read these when they come out (an extremely sarcastic thanks to Sean here.) The Executive Committee is all of the councillors so it’s just like a baby Council meeting. (In larger cities the Executive is more exclusive.) This exec agenda is mostly RFPs for advisors for the P3 project that is the bus barn/city yard development south of the besieged Montgomery community. They’re looking for a Financial and Business Advisor, a Legal Advisor, a Fairness Advisor, and an Owner’s Technical Advisor. This starts on p. 333 if you want to read it and tell me what’s involved. I just can’t brain this, apparently. Also I know the letters are next AND I have season 2 of Downton sitting on my coffee table, unwatched. You people don’t know how much I sacrifice in order to bring you this information.

You guys have a bit of a treat today, I’ve decided to write up the full agenda. Also, it’s a terribly boring one – they repeat the Administration and Finance report twice – so this may or may not be a factor in my decision. Even the letters are half-hearted. I imagine everyone just ran out of steam before the hot weather hit last Thursday. Next meeting will be full of angry sunburned people stuck in traffic.

First off is the former Christian Science church rezoning. (Not to be confused with Scientology). The owner wants to redo it into a live-work proposition, the “work” part being a chiropractic clinic. Everybody is in favour except the City, who insists on more parking etc.

Also is a closure between 11 and 13 Kusch Crescent. This one is a bit interesting to me as the involved parties have been using the “walkway” for at least 4 years (assuming that the last time Google updated Street View was in 2009) as a convenient parking spot. No wonder the neighbours had no objection to its closure, as they had no idea it existed. The walkway is more of a gravelled easement, as opposed to the walkways we see on the east side, with pavement and lights and small children selling lemonade and cookies. Anyway, this is a happy development for the owners Barry and Cynthia McEwen who also conveniently hold title to both 11 and 13 Kusch Crescent. Not to mention they were grandfathered in under the previous fee payment schedule, which, as Sean Shaw pointed out, means that they are not paying the full costs of paperwork and also will not pay the full cost of the land. (Fee for land closure applications were increased to $2,000 from $1,000 in 2011.) Total cost of closing the walkway is $6,000, since they have to do assessments as well as a community consultation. Total cost to be paid by the homeowners: $1,000 each for the application and another $1,000 each for the land, for a total of $4,000. Yup, that’s right, the City is paying people to close walkways and increase the size of their yard. It’s rather depressing, as the shortcut paths through crescents and streets vastly improve walkability and encourage people to walk in the first place. (Look under “W” for “Walking” for more information.) My house is sandwiched on one side by a fenced trailer park and the other side by a rail yard – I can exit my neighbourhood in two directions, and must walk a minimum of 500 m out of my way to get to a point where I can start heading north or south. It’s partially the reason why we have so many bicycles in this household.

Then we have the usual signed, printed, photocopied, scanned and OCR’d forms. I realize some of this has to be signed and entered into the agenda, but surely a lot of the things in here existed at one point as a PDF and didn’t have to be manually processed back into the agenda? I’ll step back out of this quicksand. Happily, I have boned up again on my amateur graphological skills, so I will make use of the signatures sprinkled throughout to give you a view into the character of the owner. I should note, I have no formal training in graphology, and even if I did graphology is widely viewed as a pseudoscience akin to astrology. That being said, you’ve all checked your Susan Miller forecast for this month? Let’s go. Here is Atchison’s signature. Having read a lot of these things, I’ve seen his signature a lot, so unless he is using a stamp he is remarkably consistent. His signature is surprisingly not overblown as many politicians’ are, so what you see is what you get. He’s got a moderately rightward slant, so he feels strongly about things and isn’t afraid to express them. The first name and initial slant downhill, indicating dissatisfaction with his personal self; the “Atchison” has a pedestal under “Atch” so that’s part of his identity that the mayor really likes. It’s not a very big pedestal; sort of an apple-box, really. The letters are neatly formed, but the loops are very tight – he’s methodical but not very open-minded. I can’t assess pressure from this sample, unfortunately.

Some applications for land use are next. The legal description for the Riverbend’s 115 Willowgrove Crescent development is “Bareland Condo Unit 1″, which is unusually honest for a developer.

837 50th St E wants to encroach upon “the sidewalk” along Millar. If you are at all familiar with the area, like I am, you know there are no sidewalks anywhere in the vicinity, and the mere suggestion that the City has a sidewalk there to be encroached upon is enraging. Contrary to popular belief, people do walk in the industrial area – and a surprising amount ride bikes, due to the poor transit service, which is another rant for another day.

We are onto the sanitary storm sewer trunks contract. You may also be familiar with this site; it is where they are putting in the new Costco at McOrmond and College. Curiously, there has been no official documentation of the Costco as of yet, but I’m sure they are building it concurrently with the storm sewer trunks and don’t want anyone to know in case we all stop going to the north Costco. (INNUENDO-FREE VERSION: THERE IS NO, AND NEVER WILL BE A, COSTCO IN THIS SPOT.)

Sole-source applications for vehicles, namely a snowblower. The former city snowblower had a catastrophic failure in January, which I imagine didn’t make anyone answering the phones at the City feel good about their choice of career. Unfortunately rates of snowblower disintegration peak, oddly enough, during the winter.

There is also a request for an emergency sole-source contract for the repairs to the Broadway bridge water main. Fun fact: it’s been inoperable for a long time, but they thought they could do without it till, uh, May, when people start watering their lawns. However, upon further analysis they figured they could get away with taking it off-line over the summer and fixing it then. This makes no sense. Oh, I see. This tender is for damage assessment and since Hamm did the initial shut down in January they want them to finish the job. A tender for full repair will go out later.

Hey, an update on Circle Drive East. No, it’s not the bridge, or at least not the bridge that you think. This is about the impending clusterfuck that is the eastbound lane repair between Millar and the bridge happening…tomorrow.

Phase 1 – Construction of two crossover roads that will be used for switching traffic from eastbound lanes to westbound lanes and back again. Work on Phase 1 will occur from May 6 to 8, during the evenings and early mornings, from 6:30 p.m. to 6:30 a.m.

Phase 2 – Reconstruction of two lanes between Millar Avenue and the Circle Drive Bridge. Work on Phase 2 will occur from May 9 to 31, and will take place 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, until work is complete.

May 9th to 31st is going to be a no-holds-barred smorgasbord for any Dementors lurking in the east and north ends.

The best part about this is “Drivers may be ticketed if they do not adhere” to the zipper-merge being piloted in order to deal with congestion. I’m gonna have to leave early in the morning and get some key shots from the pedestrian overpass.

The City owns farmland in the west, if you are disgruntled with the scope of the municipal bureaucracy here. Leasing it at $36 per seeded acre. Further evidence that the City is charging developers massively inflated prices for lots. If only developers would stop insisting on building houses, they could be growing food instead and making a profit.

Agenda from the Planning and Ops committee. The Commemorations and Monuments policy has been covered by the  media elsewhere and frankly it’s not very interesting. There’s also the year end reports from the Urban Aboriginal Leadership Program, the Cultural Diversity and Race Relations Office, and the Immigrations Initiatives. Vantage Developments is also entering into a service agreement with the City in Rosewood.

I lied. There is one thing interesting about the the Commemorations and Monuments policy is that prior to, uh, now,  there wasn’t one.

There is a “Social Development Section” in the “Community Development Branch”. I looked it up but couldn’t find any evidence of psychotropic drugs in the water supply to control behaviour, but I suppose that’s classified.

There is also a Leisurecard application form included in the agenda, for low-income types. Free admission to all leisure facilities provided you are under the income cutoff (20K if you’re living alone) have an address, and file income tax.

Some in-depth stuff about the Urban Aboriginal job/skills training strategy with the leisure department. Next is a bit from the  Cultural Diversity and Race Relations committee (CDRR) talking about their “Unified Minds” program. I get what the program is about, and I’m mostly in favour about it, but the way they write it sounds terrifying. “Youth Launch continues to keep a database of “trained” young people who can be called upon to sit on community boards, associations, and steering committees.” I kid, I kid. From the accompanying report it seems like they are doing a great job. Back-patting all around.

This report is just serving to remind me of all the great things I missed last year, from Tim Wise’s talk to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

One program of note is the “Discover Saskatoon Bus Tours for Newcomers” which was exceedingly popular. I think it’s a great idea and that the City should be putting more resources into this sort of thing. It’s very frustrating and exhausting when you move to a new area to find out where you want to go and how to get there. Especially, like so many newcomers, you are also confronted with a language barrier.

I’m gonna keep reading. I just put this up so you guys have something to read over your deck beers. We’re all having deck beers, right? (I’m writing this in my zero-gravity chair outside. It’s a hard life.)

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