May 20, 2019 5:15 pm

Proposed amendments to the Cities Act ‘concerning’ for City of Saskatoon

One amendment city administration said it would like to see in the Cities Act is the ability to send parking tickets for pay station infractions through regular mail.

Devin Sauer / Global News

The City of Saskatoon says it has concerns over some of the proposed changes to Saskatchewan’s Cities Act.

However, some substantial policy amendments proposed by Saskatoon have been included in the Ministry of Government Relations draft amendments, city administration said in a report.

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The province started consultations in Dec. 2018 on proposed amendments to the act, which has not been comprehensively updated since May 2013.

One amendment city administration said it would like to see is the ability to serve a “notice of violation” through regular mail.

This would allow the city to mail parking tickets to violators of the metered parking program, the report said.

“Such a change would provide some options for the city’s consideration,” Jo-Anne Richter, the city’s director of community standards, said in an email to Global News.

“Of course we would have to review this option further once any legislation is brought into effect.”

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Other items in the draft amendments proposed by city administration include using population data other than census data for developing ward boundaries, enactment of a whistleblower policy to protect employees, and allowing city council to establish a leave of absence policy for council members.

A concern to the proposed amendments the city said it has is allowing the disqualification of a council member by council resolution.

Saskatoon city council’s recent governance review did not result in the need or desire for this ability, administration officials said, but because it is a discretionary item, “it will result in an ability for a council to act if it so chooses.”

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City administration said it is also concerned with a proposal to expand the regulation-making authority of the minister for various tax and assessment provisions will take authority for making these decisions away from the legislature.

Another area of concern city administration said it has is expanding ministerial authority to allow the ability to grant licences or permits “which have been withheld by the municipality, under any terms/conditions the minister considers appropriate.”

The administration said it opposes this amendment as “licence and permit approvals are a purely municipal concern for which the city has created specialized departments.”

“Ministerial interference in this area would be counterproductive and create procedural issues,” the administration said in its report.

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The next step administration said it will be taking is for the city manager to provide feedback on the proposed amendments to the ministry for possible changes to the draft legislation.

The proposed amendments to the act could be introduced by the Saskatchewan government as soon as the fall 2019 sitting of the legislative assembly.

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