City council delved deeper into the recreation fees and rental rates at the latest council meeting.
At the previous Governance and Priorities Meeting on December 9, city council had their first look at the proposed changes. At the council meeting on December 16, the mayor and council had a deeper discussion on the reasons behind the changes.
Councillor Aaron Buckingham started the conversation on the increases after hearing comments from the community that there was no justification for it.
“Nobody wants to see an increase, however, if you don’t maintain when things change, like carbon taxes and staffing, you’re just kicking the can down the road for a much bigger increase, later on, to make up for a deficit. I think it was a very well managed increase although I don’t have to like it.”
Buckingham encourages residents to watch the full discussion of the city council meeting. Recreational costs will be changing across the board with some seeing more of an increase than others. Mayor Gerald Aalbers says increases all follow a similar rate.
“The rate ranged from 2 to 5 per cent so on a $7 admission the 2 per cent will raise it a quarter and the following year there’s no change. Whereas, depending on the size of the cost you add 2 or 5 per cent and you will see a jump. It really depends on what number you’re dealing with on the front end.”
Aalbers notes the cost to run the facilities continues to grow every year and the carbon tax on the facilities heat and electricity bill will also be going up.
“We’re going to see rate costs continue to grow over time and if you go back over time, we’ve had this conversation of nothing gets any cheaper. We’re trying to balance between the taxpayer and the user an equitable value for the services or the use of a facility.”
He says none of the public recreational facilities run on a cost-recovery basis and very rarely break even. Council accepted the changes which will go into effect throughout 2020.
After a public hearing at the December 16 council meeting, the bylaw for cannabis-infused products passed. On December 17, cannabis stores across the country were able to begin selling cannabis edibles, extracts and topical products. Councillor Aaron Buckinghams says the original cannabis bylaw was in place with the expectation that edibles would be coming at some point.
“It’s a simple text amendment to add that piece to the bylaw. The bylaw was designed to have that piece added to it when this day came.”
While they may be available in some stores in Saskatchewan, stores on the Alberta side won’t be stocked until mid-January. The province runs its own distribution system and the products have to pass through regulations before being sent to retailers.
“If there’s no product available then nothing changes. That’s why we wanted to get the bylaw in place so we stay ahead of the game just as the cannabis retail started a year ago. It’s the process we go through.”
FCSS Advisory Committee
Seven people were appointed to the Family and Community Support Services Advisory Committee. Six members return for a one-year term and a new person has joined the committee.
Amy Levesque, Dr. Kent Weir, Dabir Naqvi, Dawn McKenzie-Weinhandl, Emmy Kuypers, Muriel Ralston, Shaunda Smith and Councillor Aaron Buckingham will serve on the committee from December 16, 2019 to December 16, 2020.
“We’re grateful for the experience our returning members contribute, the fresh perspectives new members bring and most of all the time they all volunteer to ensure these funds are invested to best benefit the community,” says Patrick Lancaster, Manager of Social Programs and Services.
More than $500,000 in grants was given to non-profit community organization programs and services by the FCSS Advisory Committee in 2019. The committee supports FCSS initiatives by volunteering at different events and workshops throughout the year.