First off, if you’re planning to vote today for the Sask Party because of their [sarcasm alert] decisive action on the housing crisis — specifically their “Housing Strategy for Saskatchewan: Provincial Action Plan 2011-12″ which was launched in August — then you might want to have a gander at a staff report going before council on Tuesday.
What happened was back at the October 17 council meeting, Fred Clipsham brought out a motion instructing city staff to review that action plan and determine if it qualifies as an affordable housing strategy. (As discussed in episode 12 of the Ultrasonic Alarm Call.)
And guess what? Staff says it doesn’t. Qualify as an affordable housing strategy, that is.
Actually, here’s what they say exactly…
The strategy contains a few new directions regarding the housing market, however, does not contain targets, measurable indicators or have benchmarks as to the current or desired state of the market. While the Province does have funding programs that address affordability, the most recent housing strategy is focused on market solutions to the supply crisis. The 2011-12 Action Plan does not include new incentives for affordable housing, its focus is mainly updating the programs put in place in April, some of which directly address affordability. [emphasis mine]
Not quite a failing grade, but definitely a dismal D-.
One impact of this is that the city won’t be lifting its condominium conversion moratorium any time soon. (The trigger for that to end is the province actually coming through with an affordable housing policy.)
It’s also yet more evidence that the Sask Party’s response to the affordable housing crunch will be to support home ownership and market-rate rental and as for people looking for housing at the low end of the spectrum, all they have to offer are a lot of crossed fingers that affordable rental will just open up.
Also of note this week, as Greg reported earlier on the blog, city staff are bringing forward a recommendation to not open the City Square Plaza to cars until they’ve fully considered the option through the Downtown Transportation Plan. (That Downtown Transportation Plan could take two years to complete, by the way.)
I don’t want to get into it too much right now because I’m working on a story about this for the paper with, like, research and interviews and shit, but my gut reaction: This is pure lunacy. Absolute blundering madness.
But, hey, apparently I’m in the minority.
Anyway, that’s not all that’s going on this week at your city hall….
Monday, November 7
MUNICIPAL HERITAGE ADVISORY COMMITTEE (12:15 pm): Recommending two buildings be granted municipal heritage designations, the Turgeon International Hostel at 2310 McIntyre St and the Waddell Residence at 1504 Victoria Ave. The committee is also setting up a working group for the 2012 Municipal Heritage Awards.
Tuesday, November 8
CITY COUNCIL (5:30 pm): Beyond the two items mentioned above, council is also considering closing an intersection at Condie Road to facilitate construction on the Global Transportation Hub. A couple delegations are coming out to oppose the move. Apparently, by doing this, the city will be blocking access for some property owners between the north portion of their land and the south. And that seems kind of… well, shitty, actually.
Council will also consider releasing $175,000 of the $350,000 that has been approved for planning for the 2013 Juno Awards (which are happening here, yay). There’s also a request to build a restaurant at 365 Broad St (fish’n'chips joint if I remember correctly). And council will also likely be turning down a request for a property tax exemption from the Saskatchewan Abilities Council because they don’t want to set a precedent for giving breaks to non-profits that are helping people with disabilities.
There’s more but I’m not going to get into it because if you think what I’ve just written about is boring then let me tell you, mister, I haven’t even begun to plumb the depths of boring that’s on offer at city council this week. For instance, they’re going to replace two tables in Bylaw No. 9250. That’s an agenda item! You should come to council and see how that one turns out. I hear they may even cut and paste the new tables over top of the old ones right there while we’re all watching! But, if you can’t make it out, you can read all about it on the city’s website.
To conclude, in honor of the soon-to-be-unnecessary concrete sub-surface the city poured under the Plaza so that cars and trucks could drive over it, here’s a little Slim Gaillard.