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