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Taste of Saskatchewan in jeopardy, city council votes ahead organics program

Saskatoon gets poor grade for financial transparency
A member of the city administration speaks to the city council on Day Two of budget talks, on November 26. The City received a low financial transparency score from a think tank. Files / Global News

Late Monday night Saskatoon’s city council learned that the Taste of Saskatchewan food festival may not return in 2020.

Council heard that SaskTel Centre, which sponsors the festival, doesn’t want to support it anymore.

SaskTel Centre CEO Will Lofdahl told council that the group had concerns over the state of the grass at Kiwanis Park and that the corporation didn’t want to be associated with an event from which participants received no profits.

He said that the poor weather has affected the food vendors’ business during the event.

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“It was unexpected” said Ward 5 Coun. Randy Donauer.

“It really caught council off-guard.”

He said council is exploring how to save the event.

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“We have no intention of killing Taste of Saskatchewan or seeing any of our summer festivals hurt in any way,” Donauer said.

Council also voted through the curbside organics program, after nearly two hours of debate.

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There were several motions and two challenges on the item with the resistance led by councillors Iwanchuk, Davies, Dubois and Donauer.

“What I’m hearing from the residents is that they’re tired of the tax increases and they want them to be lower,” Donauer said.

Taste of Saskatchewan ready to tantalize tastebuds
Taste of Saskatchewan ready to tantalize tastebuds

He said he wanted the program to be implemented more slowly to reduce the property tax increase.

Ward 7 Coun. Mairin Loewin said she was annoyed by the debate because council had already spoken about the issue.

“My frustration lies with the amount of time that we’ve spent on this issue,” Loewin said, “and I think we sent a signal to the community that the decision had been made several months ago.”

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Dubois frequently questioned the cost of the proposed items. “The taxpayer can only afford so much,” she said.

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The city also voted to increase the fees for the Green Cart program and recycling. The Green Cart program will cost participants $65, up from $55, for those who sign up before April 30. Those signing up later will pay $85 instead of $75.

The monthly cost for the residential recycling program increases to $7.38, from $5.65. The fees for multi-unit residences increases to $3.71, from $3.11

The budgets for transportation and community support were also passed.

Only nine councillors and the mayor were present. Ward 1 Coun. Hill was in Ottawa attending the annual executive meeting of the Canadian Federation of Municipalities. Hill is the third vice-president of the board.

He called in late for the meeting but Clark prevented him from participating in the discussion about the organics program, saying that it wouldn’t be conducive to have a participant who had missed a large portion of the talk.

After voicing his displeasure he remained silent. It was later revealed that he had left the call. He did not participate in the rest of the meeting.