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Saskatoon mayoral candidates square off in economic-focused debate

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WATCH: As the Saskatchewan provincial election is finishing, another is creeping up as Saskatoon’s six mayoral candidates faced off in a debate Wednesday night – Oct 28, 2020

As the Saskatchewan provincial election is finishing, another is creeping up.

Saskatoon’s six mayoral candidates faced off in a debate Wednesday night hosted by the North Saskatoon Business Association (NSBA).

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The 90-minute business and economy-focused debate started with opening statements before each candidate was asked a question. After answering the question, another candidate could rebut.

Rob Norris was the first to be asked a question and it was about changes he would make in city spending.

He said he would lower property taxes and reduce wages for some employees of the city, including himself, if elected. Norris also mentioned that transit use has gone down since the COVID-19 pandemic and said that he doesn’t believe now is the time to invest in more buses.

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Charlie Clark disagreed with Norris’ points, which resulted in a heated discussion.

“A hiring freeze — I did the calculations about what impact that would have on operating budget. It’s about $1 million, but over $400,000 of those positions are actually to reduce overtime. That’s going to cost you more money,” Clark said.

“You increase taxes, we’re looking for tax savings,” Norris responded to Clark.

The next discussion was between Clark and Don Atchison.

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Clark was asked how the city would put itself in a strong economic position in the future under his leadership. Clark said he’s proud with how the city has managed the pandemic and is setting itself up well for the future compared to other Canadian cities.

Atchison disagreed, bringing up things he thinks Clark hasn’t been efficient with.

“Talking about efficiencies — putting in bike lanes on 4th Avenue that you voted for and refused to take out. If it hadn’t been for the NSBA being here right now and having the pictures, they would still be in place today because the administration and your council was misleading the citizens of Saskatoon,” Atchison said to Clark.

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Other topics of debate included a new downtown library, the location of the library, taxes, city investments and what changes could be made to help business owners.

Saskatonians head to the polls on Monday, Nov. 9.