Saskatoon city council applied the brakes on plans to start charging for the use of streets, alleys and sidewalks after hearing more consultation is needed.
Council voted Monday to continue consulting the companies that stand to be affected by a slate of new fees for use of public rights-of-way, such as when a large trash bin is placed on the street for a construction project.
Appearing before city council, Keith Moen, executive director of the North Saskatoon Business Association, said he estimated the fees and fines would double the cost for a 10-day landscaping project.
Many councillors agreed with Moen that the consultation done with the business and homebuilders community so far was insufficient.
“These fees will absolutely be passed along to the residents,” Coun. Randy Donauer said. “I think we’re going to make a lot of money off of this, but that’s not the goal.”
The report suggests the fees would only cover the cost of making sure the bylaw introducing the fees and fines was properly enforced. Moen said this amounted to adding a fee to create a new bureaucracy, which he called “Monty Python-esque.”
James Polley, owner of Allan’s Landscaping Ltd., said the fee to place a bin on a road in Regina for a month would be $20, while in Saskatoon it would cost $91.12 if the new rules are passed.
“This new fine is like martial law,” Polley said. “I say no to this new tax. It’s not reasonable.”
Angela Gardiner, scting general manager of transportation and utilities, said the fees and the fines to help enforce them are intended to ensure bins and trailers are removed from streets as soon as possible.
Saskatoon is the only major municipality in Western Canada that does not charge right-of-way fees, Gardiner said.
The fees would apply to bins, trailers and other material placed on roadways, sidewalks and alleys, as well as to the closure of roads or lanes by private interests for construction.
Gardiner acknowledged the fees would not apply to work contracted by the city, but added the city now uses road rentals for construction projects. Under road rentals, the street is leased to a contractor, which can reduce its costs by completing work early.
Donauer said the Saskatoon construction industry is “not the healthiest” right now. Moen and Polley both suggested some type of deadline for bins on streets would achieve the same results as new fees and fines, without extra costs.