Edited and paraphrased by me. I have not fact-checked any of these statements.

Opening statements:

James Ford: Politics can be done differently in Ward 5.

Randy Donauer: I’ve worked hard the last two years for you.

First question: How can we use the Strategic Plan to create healthy and vibrant communities?

Randy Donauer: We need to create places where people can connect. (Lists rec and leisure services, promotes community associations.) We need to make our communities safe. I like the plan and the amount of consultation that went into it.

James Ford: I am disappointed that the strategic plan is not more widely available; it’s limited in scope and easily ignored by future councils. We need to join people cross-culturally, connect public and private schools. People are openly being racist against immigrants and newcomers to schools. We need to bridge that gap.

Next question: affordable housing.

James Ford: We have the largest rich/poor divide in Saskatoon – contrast Airport and Whiteswan. We have problems. We need more affordable housing. Calgary’s homeless plan is so effective that they are closing shelters. We need to do that here. Ward 5 not home to homeless but creates homeless. We need to stop passing buck down and pass it back up.

Randy Donauer: We are a leader in affordable housing – have created many incentives. 15 million dollar investment has been leveraged into 300 million of construction activity. FCM asked for a presentation on our strategy here. The provincial government has also copied our programs. Businesses are making their own programs after City funding runs out. Of course, we need to do more.

Question: transportation/parking/greenhouse gas emissions.

Donauer: We need to build the north bridge first so people can get to work faster. We need to encourage transit, cycling, and walking. We need better shuttle service. Also, bus-only lanes and give buses priority at lights. Sometimes people need to see that buses will get home first.

Ford: I am not an anti-car candidate as portrayed elsewhere. I am not anti-bridge either. I just want to fix Idylwyld and Circle Drive intersection first. We just added 2 lanes to the Circle North bridge; it’s not the bridge that is the problem, it is the intersections. Adding another bridge without fixing intersections will create problems.

Question: budget exceeding revenues collected.

Ford: We have people saying they need to find efficiencies, but we are missing a “solve-a-lot” answer. We are giving too many tax holidays to big developers. Galaxy Cinemas still doesn’t pay any taxes on their downtown location yet. The economy is hot here and higher taxes will not scare people away. If I buy land to build a house, I have to pay taxes as soon as I have title. Developers are not subject to same rules. Let’s cancel corporate holidays and give the little people a break.

Donauer: Council can’t spend more than we can bring in. This year we were under budget. We have an AAA credit rating and the lowest tax increases. We have the second lowest tax rate (Calgary lowest), the lowest amount of debt per capita, and the highest amount of money put into reserves. If maintenance needs to be done, we have the money.

Closing statements:

Donauer: City Hall is transparent. We have received accolades from the Canadian Newspaper Association for transparency. Our consultation process needs to get better. We have very low turnout at open houses. My platform is that I would work for you. I haven’t stopped working. I return every call and email. I’m also working on the snow removal plan – we have 3 levels of snow removal options.

Ford: I want to point out some differences between myself and my opponent. I do not brag about how much money I have handled. I work on the palliative care ward. I got into health care for the same reason I want to get into politics – I want to enrich lives, promote dignity. I will work hard. Numbers are important, but this money only counts if spent well. Council should be run as a family, not as a business. Are we better off?

Questions from the public.

School bus driver (discloses he is related to Ford) – Proposes 4th option to snow removal: clearing school bus lanes first. One dead kid is not worth the city’s budget.

Ford: School bus routes need to be made the same priority as city bus routes.

Donauer: The report came to Council with three options for snow clearing. I’m careful in making promises, but I’m not opposed to it. I need to know cost.

Question: When they are discussing the north bridge, are they talking about perimeter or commuter bridge?

Donauer: The province is going to fast-track the perimeter freeway which runs from Grasswood, through Wanuskewin and around to the airport. Perimeter bridge is province’s jurisdiction. The commuter bridge will join Marquis and Central and be a smaller bridge, like Broadway, with a lower speed limit. It will take 2-3K cars per day off Circle.

Ford: We need to upgrade Marquis and Idylwyld intersection first. Wanuskewin as well. Creating death traps with addition of new bridge.

Question about encouraging density.

Ford: Sprawl is a terrible thing, it costs us money. The north end is not sprawling since it is limited in scope. I would never support greenspace infill. There is a lot of property in Saskatoon that can be built on. Taking out the bus barns in Caswell, we can create high density there.

Donauer: I am in favour of densification, created through incentives. We need it downtown. (Defines ‘brownfield’ for audience.) We need rapid transit corridors. Where is the north-south rapid transit corridor? When we put the transit corridors in we will encourage high density along these routes.

Question about encouraging small businesses in the north end.

Donauer: We have the lowest business taxes – 1.75x that of what you pay on your house. Businesses are subsidizing housing. We need to reduce the tax rate which will bring in more revenue, since more businesses can open and be taxed at the lower rate. I would like to lower it to 1.52 over the next 10-15 years. Changes to the storm water utility means businesses are paying their fair share. I have talked with the Chamber of Commerce.

Ford: We have the lowest tax rates. We also have the lowest minimum wage. We don’t need to make them any lower. We need to bring in organized labour for small businesses, so they don’t have to worry about the cost of providing healthcare. We need a societal overhaul not an economic overhaul.

Question about why the city is still building on the other side of the river if all the jobs are in the north end.

Donauer: the east side is a problem. We should have thought of roads when building neighbourhoods. The West Sector plan will help.

Question about how candidates will incorporate youth and all age groups. Youth are left out of election process.

Donauer: The city has the Youth Council program. I am also involved in youth programming and participate in social networking.

Ford: We need to stop imparting upon young people that because they are unable to vote yet that they don’t matter. We also need classes on civic governance in high schools.

Question about cycling and bike infrastructure.

Ford: We need segregated cycling lanes and to connect the cycling network with straight lines.

Donauer: Cycling hasn’t been much of a focus in the past but with the new advocacy groups we’ve been taking baby steps and doing more consultation. We have the new corridor going in on 33rd. We want the Meewasin and Wanuskewin trails to be the major north-south routes so we don’t have to change infrastructure in the north end. We also have a great park system for cyclists to get around.

FIN

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