Paying for past inaction and other council tidbits

Tyler Clarke
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Coun. Charlene Miller, seen during Monday’s executive committee meeting of council, was the only member of council with perfect attendance in 2013, attending all 20 regular meetings of council, all 26 special meetings of council, all 24 in camera meetings and all 20 executive committee meetings. 

Continuing to pay for past city councils’ inaction, the current group of elected officials have been confronted with yet another oversight of the past. 


During Monday’s executive committee meeting, the city’s elected officials considered a citywide hydraulic system analysis that administration has been recommending for decades.

The analysis would provide the city with an update on its water distribution system limitations, a report by manager of capital projects Wes Hicks clarifies.

The city is currently relying on analysis that dates back about 40 years, at which time the city’s population was shy of 30,000 people and the water plant produced an average of about 13,300 million litres per day.

The city’s population is now at 43,222 according to 2012 provincial health records -- a growth of 52 per cent since the last water system analysis was commissioned. The water plant now produces about 17,700 million litres per day -- a growth of 33 per cent since the last report.

“Residents move about in their daily life to and from home, school and work, so demand within the water system is under constant change that requires very complex calculations to determine needs,” Hicks’ report reads.

With Hicks’ report also cautioning that there’s a “high risk that after 40 years utility systems may already be at or near maximum capacity which could cause low water pressure, sewer backup or storm flooding,” causing the potential for a “major liability,” Coun. Rick Orr threw his support behind the expense.

“I think that’s the long-term risk that we’d have if we did nothing, here,” Orr said, adding that he’s been surprised by past councils’ decisions to not spend money for the benefit of future generations.

“I don’t know how we get to the future if we don’t support giving our engineers the chance to understand what we’re going to need to move forward.”

The approximately $375,000 expense would come out of the Land Development Levy Reserve over the next three years and would therefore not affect any potential tax increase.

Although council tentatively supported the expense at Monday’s meeting, it won’t be until next week’s city council meeting that a final decision will be made.

I don’t know how we get to the future if we don’t support giving our engineers the chance to understand what we’re going to need to move forward. Rick Orr

This is the latest in a series of expenses past city councils decided to not take on, which the city’s latest batch of elected officials has shown interest in taking care of.

Last year saw the city almost double its annual asphalt paving program, bringing it to the $4 million required to keep city streets at their overall status quo state.

A series of significant utility rate increases began with last year’s 10.4 per cent jump. This year’s increase is tentatively set at 9.2 per cent in order to tackle a growing underground infrastructure backlog that is currently estimated at about $71 million.

In 1990 the backlog was estimated at $11 million.

The following are some other items brought up at Monday’s executive committee meeting -- a meeting that prepared council and administration for their next city council meeting, scheduled for Monday, Jan. 14 at 5 p.m.


• Absenteeism wasn’t on the table for Coun. Charlene Miller, who boasted perfect attendance in 2013 -- the only member of city council to have done so.

Miller attended all 46 regular and special meetings of council, all 24 in camera meetings, and all 20 executive committee meetings.

The balance of council ranged in attendance from 38 to 45 of city council meetings, 19 to 24 of the 24 in camera meetings, and 15 to 20 of executive committee meetings. In all three categories, Coun. Don Cody had the low-end in attendance.


• Viaduct repair work might take place at the viaducts on Central Avenue and Sixth Avenue East, if council decides to approve a $1.77 million tender for Allan Construction of Saskatoon to undertake the work.

The Central Avenue viaduct was built in 1938 and the Sixth Avenue East viaduct was built in 1976, and repair work would “mitigate years of corrosion damage … and bring them to proper standards,” a report by the city’s manager of capital projects Wes Hicks reads.

Organizations: Land Development Levy Reserve, Allan Construction

Geographic location: Central Avenue, Sixth Avenue East, Saskatoon

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