North Battleford’s policing costs and the city’s environmental impact were among points touched on by Mayor Ryan Bater Wednesday.
Bater delivered a State of the City address on June 17th, which provided information on the city’s fiscal plans through the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. He announced they would be re-opening outdoor recreation facilities on the province’s timeline. He also reiterated the City is waiting for provincial funding before working on two major construction projects and unveiled that they’ll be working a new system that residents can use to monitor utility use.
In addition, Bater says they could be facing an increase in costs for policing, as the size of the city grows.
“As a city under 15,000, we pay 70 per cent of the cost of an RCMP officer, that’s about just over $110,000 every year for each officer. When our population goes over 15,000 that’ll change to 90 per cent. In addition to that, I mentioned the labour agreement coming up, we do anticipate another 15 to 20 per cent increase in those costs.”
North Battleford RCMP has 37 RCMP officers. Bater adds that they’re also working with other levels of governments on other crime reduction methods, such as addressing poverty, mental health issues, racism and addiction, among others.
North Battleford also faces some challenges, due to a loss in revenue caused by the pandemic. The Saskatchewan Budget also indicates that in 2022, North Battleford will not get $330,000 in funding related to the province’s PST sharing program.
Bater praised City administration for their ongoing work cutting operational costs and finding efficiencies, which will help the city get through the money crunch.
“The work over the last year and a half, solidifying the City’s finances and making sure our city was on firmer ground, put us in a position where have been able to weather the storm in a very, very positive way. I think, given the circumstances, the city is in a strong position, the state of the city is good, and we are prepared for future storms.”
North Battleford also found out just over an hour before the address that they had been approved to be a part of a feasibility study on energy efficiency and renewable energy at five city facilities. These are the wastewater treatment plant, Battleford’s Co-op Aquatic Centre, Nations West Field House, Northland Power Curling Rink, and the Dekker Centre for the Performing Arts.
The goal is to reduce energy consumption at these facilities by 30 per cent. The survey will cost $361,000, $175,000 of which will be paid by the FSN Green Fund, and the rest through gas tax remittance from the Federal Government.
Before ending his address, Mayor Bater was asked about racism in the community. He made a point to mention community work to reduce it within North Battleford.
“It’s been a priority of our council to develop a stronger relationship with the indigenous peoples of Treaty 6, specifically those in and around the Battlefords so that we can focus on issues together, develop mutual understanding and start to change the way the public views and our relationships and reacts to them.”
The City of North Battleford will be looking at improving firefighter gear, continuing to adapt a COVID-19 business plan, rehabilitating the runway at the Cameron McIntosh airport and annexation of RM land that holds the former Saskatchewan Hospital and the town’s boat launch.