Mayor Charlie Clark fielded questions ranging from waste diversion to transit to the potential for a downtown arena while at a North Saskatoon Business Association event Wednesday
Waste changes were necessary, Clark tells business luncheon
Posted on November 22, 2018 in Business, In the Media
Saskatoon Mayor Charlie Clark defended upcoming changes to trash collection in front of a business lunch crowd.
Clark took part in a question-and-answer session at a North Saskatoon Business Association lunch on Wednesday at Prairieland Park.
He said controversial changes to waste services that divided city council are aimed at trying to avoid the looming cost of a new landfill.
“The goal needs to be to not build another landfill,” Clark said in response to a question from the audience. He said any new landfill would likely need to be located far from the city.
“This is not a small issue,” Clark said. “And this is why we needed to change the system.”
Clark voted Monday with a slim majority, 6-5, to introduce user fees for single-family homes based on the size of the garbage carts they select, to try to encourage residents to send less material to the landfill.
Council also voted to use property taxes to pay for a new curbside green bin collection program for single-family homes for organic material like food and yard waste.
Clark said all sectors need to work together to try to divert more from the landfill. Council has also endorsed the introduction of an organics bylaw for businesses and institutions in two to four years.
Clark, who just passed the midway point of his first term as mayor, challenged the idea that proposed changes to transit service based on bus rapid transit principles is catering to the downtown.
“If it was only serving the downtown, it wouldn’t make much sense,” he said. “It’s about moving people into and out of the downtown, not just about the downtown.”
Improved bus service would be key to the development of a downtown entertainment district anchored by a new arena/convention centre, Clark said. He called upon private-sector “champions” to help the city realize the arena vision.
Clark offered little optimism for people frustrated by train delays. He said the estimated $600-million cost to relocate the Canadian Pacific line would only solve half the problem.
He suggested focusing on finding ways to deal with train delays.
City hall is working on ways to shorten the amount of time it takes to get commercial building permits approved, Clark told the crowd. He touted the city’s residential building permit process, saying it has the lowest fees and the quickest turnaround in Canada.
“Nobody benefits from red tape and unpredictability,” he said.
A modern, business-friendly environment means more than low taxes and less regulation — it requires “amenities” and “quality of life” to attract top talent, Clark said.
He cited the Remai Modern art gallery, the new Merlis Belsher Place twin-pad rink and improvements to the Gordie Howe Sports Complex as key additions to Saskatoon.