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.)