Lights out

Bro­ken street­lights, fi­nances and awards dis­cussed

Moose Jaw Times Herald - - COMING UP - JOSHUA SAN­TOS

City crews may track non-func­tion­ing street­lights fol­low­ing an ap­proved mo­tion Mon­day.

The mo­tion fol­lows a re­quest, in­tro­duced by Coun. Brian Swan­son, to have ad­min­is­tra­tion pre­pare an ex­ten­sive list show­ing new op­tions for a pro­to­col that sys­tem­at­i­cally re­ports non­func­tion­ing street­lights at an ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee meet­ing.

Swan­son, Coun. Scott Mc­Mann, Coun. Don Mitchell and Coun. Dawn Luh­n­ing voted in favour. Coun. Chris War­ren, Coun. Crys­tal Froese and Mayor Fraser Tolmie op­posed.

“The rea­son I brought this for­ward is be­cause I’ve be­come aware of some cer­tain ar­eas where non-func­tion­ing street­lights are an on­go­ing is­sue,” Swan­son said.

He no­ticed out­ages on the Ninth Av­enue Bridget and the Thun­der­bird Viaduct and said he wants to find a so­lu­tion in­stead of play­ing the blame game. He said it’s also a safety con­cern.

“Those five lights on the Ninth Av­enue Bridge were all out in a row, and it is dark there,” he said.

Swan­son said it’s also a li­a­bil­ity is­sue be­cause some­one may sue the city and SaskPower if an ac­ci­dent oc­curred.

Luh­n­ing said she was as­sured the lights would be fixed this fall. How­ever, they were not re­paired by that time.

“Is it ap­pro­pri­ate that it’s over a year that th­ese lights are out? And if we all agree that it isn’t ap­pro­pri­ate, then I think we need to all make a bet­ter ef­fort in mak­ing SaskPower un­der­stand that we do not ac­cept that th­ese lights are out for over a year.”

The street­lights in the mu­nic­i­pal­ity are owned and op­er­ated by SaskPower. Moose Jaw pays ap­prox­i­mately $900,000 for the ser­vices.

“I un­der­stand th­ese as­sets are not the city’s but the prob­lem I have with that is th­ese cit­i­zens don’t know that. There’s city street­lights that have been out and the 300 block of Main Street has been dark for over a year.”

She floated the idea of with­hold­ing pay­ment to SaskPower.

“I’m not say­ing we do that, but we need to have a con­ver­sa­tion with them and a very strong con­ver­sa­tion with them, that we do not ac­cept the street­lights on Main Street have been out for over a year,” she said.

She said she had busi­ness own­ers and cit­i­zens con­front her, up­set about the street­lights be­ing out.

“We have to ad­vo­cate for our cit­i­zens and I don’t see that hap­pen­ing in this sit­u­a­tion,” she said.

Mitchell shared the same sen­ti­ments. He said he has also heard com­plaints from cit­i­zens about the out­ages.

“I think if we doc­u­ment on be­half of our com­mu­nity what’s hap­pen­ing here and the em­bar­rass­ing neg­li­gence that seems to be oc­cur­ring, that might be an ef­fec­tive (ac­tion) to get some re­sponse. It doesn’t seem like they care very much about keep­ing up on this ser­vice,” he said.

Matt No­ble, city man­ager said he met with SaskPower rep­re­sen­ta­tives about four months ago and was as­sured the street­lights would be fixed.

“We have made con­tact with the se­nior SaskPower per­son­nel, ad­vis­ing them of a large num­ber of lights that were out, ex­press­ing to them that we were con­cerned,” No­ble said.

Res­i­dents who in­form the engi­neer­ing clerk about a street­light are told the city does not own the as­set. The caller is then redi­rected to the SaskPower web­site to re­port the is­sue.

Quar­terly re­ports tabled

Ex­pen­di­tures were pre­sented at coun­cil Mon­day night as part of the city’s quar­terly re­ports.

A memo shows the ex­penses for cap­i­tal projects from Jan­uary to Septem­ber of this year. About $920,000 was spent from the build­ing im­prove­ment fund when $600,000 was ini­tially bud­geted.

“That’s cur­rently over bud­get in terms of ex­penses be­cause there is a cor­re­spond­ing grant that will be com­ing in from the Canada 150 project that will pay for half of that project,” said Ted Scha­ef­fer, di­rec­tor of parks and recre­ation. “Once the project is ac­tu­ally fin­ished and all the re­ceipts are sub­mit­ted, we’ll ac­tu­ally get that grant.”

Ad­di­tion­ally, city rev­enues are on track with last year’s to­tals. At this time, the city has $970,000 in rev­enues from fines and penalties and projects to end the year at $1.7 mil­lion. In 2016 the city had $960,000 in rev­enues at the end of Septem­ber from fines and penalties end­ing 2016 with $1.8 mil­lion.

The city does not an­tic­i­pate a short­age in fines and penalty funds.

Rev­enues are not the only com­po­nents fluc­tu­at­ing; the num­bers of em­ploy­ees hired by the city have changed.

There were 379 em­ploy­ees at the end of Septem­ber 2016. There were 408 at the end of Septem­ber 2017.

The Parks and Recre­ation Depart­ment faced chal­lenges fill­ing shifts as stu­dents went back to school. The city plans to try to keep the stu­dents on a part-time ba­sis, while hir­ing more.

“We have a num­ber of sum­mer stu­dents that work at the pool and they’re life­guards through­out the sum­mer,” said Scha­ef­fer. “What we’re do­ing is we’re ac­tu­ally try­ing to en­cour­age some of those life­guards to stay on.”

The city will con­duct a safety re­view of in­ter­sec­tions. A short, medium and long-term plan is to be de­vel­oped.

“We un­der­took a study of I think be­tween 20 or 25 of our busiest in­ter­sec­tions in the city, look­ing at it with ac­ci­dents sta­tis­tics from SGI and the po­lice ser­vice,” said Josh Mick­le­bor­ough, di­rec­tor of engi­neer­ing ser­vices. “We’re in the process of re­view­ing that re­port and look­ing at the im­prove­ments.”

The aim of the pro­gram is to in­crease safety, re­li­a­bil­ity and func­tion­al­ity of the traf­fic sig­nals.

Four out of five blooms

Moose Jaw scored 77 per cent in the Com­mu­ni­ties in Bloom com­pe­ti­tion, plac­ing sec­ond amongst all the par­tic­i­pat­ing mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties in Saskatchewan.

“That counts as four blooms (five be­ing the high­est rank­ing) which is on par with the last few years.

We placed sec­ond in the com­pe­ti­tion. Melfort beat us out by a cou­ple per cent,” said Sarah Re­gent, chair­per­son for Com­mu­ni­ties in Bloom com­mit­tee.

Judges dropped by in Au­gust and ex­am­ined the city across six dif­fer­ent cat­e­gories, in­clud­ing tidi­ness, en­vi­ron­men­tal ac­tion, her­itage con­ser­va­tion, ur­ban forestry, land­scape and flo­ral de­sign.

“Over­all our re­sults are quite bal­anced again this year. Not a lot has changed from what we scored last year,” said Re­gent.

The judges noted the mu­nic­i­pal­ity had out­stand­ing qual­i­ties in her­itage, ur­ban forestry and land­scape at­tributes par­tic­u­larly.

“They were im­pressed with the num­ber of parks and the num­ber of places where peo­ple can go out and get ac­tive and how many peo­ple were out us­ing them,” Re­gent said.

Judges also took note of Cres­cent Park and the newly cre­ated carv­ings in the area.

Re­gent said the group has to try to in­crease the vis­i­bil­ity of CIB in the city. The or­ga­ni­za­tion plans to have an open house in Jan­uary.

“We are very pleased with how we did and we in­tend to com­pete again next year and hope­fully im­prove our score a lit­tle bit,” she said.

JOSHUA SAN­TOS/TIMES-HER­ALD

Sarah Re­gent, chair­per­son for city’s Com­mu­ni­ties in Bloom (CIB) com­mit­tee said Moose Jaw placed sec­ond in the pro­vin­cial com­pe­ti­tion Mon­day.

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