What do you see as the priority in City spending over the next four years?
LES ARNELIEN: Our priority in city spending is and should always be to provide our citizens with all the municipal services to enhance the quality of life in Yorkton. We as a council need to ensure that our residents and business community has access to:
- An infrastructure of quality streets, sidewalks, water and sewer services
- Fire protection
- A police service to protect our residents
- Culture and Recreation
- Health Care Facilities
- Affordable Housing
- An expansion of our Parkland College
- Employment opportunities for all residents
- A vibrant business community
- A progressive council that will continue the growth and prosperity that we enjoy today.
ROBBY BEAR: Council needs to be financially accountable of your tax dollars. Being financially responsible requires sensible planning to reduce existing City debt, to ensure existing infrastructure is properly maintained, to ensure adequate resources are in place for police, medical and fire services to keep our community safe, and to forecast and develop City infrastructure which is required to accommodate our growing economy.
A financial assessment is an important part of the planning process, and through this process, we can identify the key areas of spending that will be a priority for Yorkton over the next four years. With the immense growth the City of Yorkton has seen over the years, as well as the future development of our fine City, council must focus on spending trends and financial controls for the City.
ARLISS DELLOW: The next four years will require the City to budget for and spend on infrastructure … roads, sewers, water, lighting and land development to service a rapidly growing population. In many areas of our City, the current infrastructures is getting old and will not last forever and funds must be available to maintain and replace it as necessary. We likely do not need new facilities, with the Gallagher Centre, the Kinsmen Arena, the new Skate Park, and Fire Hall. The City should, however, look closely at consolidating some of their present works operations in one area, to cut costs and free up prime property for sale to private developers, such as that on the corner of Assiniboia Avenue and South Front Street, currently an eyesore in the downtown core. We do need a new hospital, but that is not in the City's domain while a new cemetery is and needs to be looked at.
ROSS FISHER: City spending falls into two main areas: operating and capital. Operating expenses take up almost 85per cent of the annual City Budget. 80 per cent of the operating budget falls into public safety (fire and police), public works (snow removal) and recreation. These areas will continue to be the priority for the operating budget as they have such a huge day-to-day impact on the public.
The capital budget is where we address roads and sidewalks, the sewer system, storm water drainage and planning for growth. This budget provides greater discretion. The city is behind on sidewalk maintenance and upgrading of public works facilities, as well the storm sewer system is in need of upgrading in addition to the drainage ponds that are being put in place.
In addition, as the city continues to grow we need to maintain a strong police presence in Yorkton; we want to remain a safe community.
RANDY GOULDEN: Yorkton is experiencing unprecedented growth and is the provincial eastern hub. We must be prepared for the challenges that accompany growth. This will require that the City partners and works with business, other orders of government and community organizations. City Council and Administration must work with business and the other orders of government to assure that there is adequate serviced land available for development, either through the city or private developers for
commercial/industrial and residential needs. We cannot ignore the services and infrastructure we already have in place. We must continue what the past councils started, and renew our infrastructure, including roads, sidewalks, water and sewer lines, and city-owned facilities. We must have a balanced focus on the future.
AARON RM NAGY: Over the next four years Yorkton city council needs to look at our infrastructure as the city continues to blossom there will be a strain on some infrastructure.
We also need to take a look at traffic flow; we are growing city and have more traffic from people in town and traveling through. If there is something we can do to make it easier on everyone it would be a good thing.
RICHARD OKRAINEC: Over the next term I see priority spending to take place in two main areas, our current infrastructure including city owned facilities and the Airport. Over my first term we have provided land or funds for a new Health Facility, Housing and a new College. We also conducted a major audit of all City owned infrastructure, which is aging and will be prioritized by the next Council. Upgrading our key facilities while managing the growth is key. We will continue development of both residential and commercial areas of the new annexed land and the new growth areas in Yorkton, to the east and to the south of the City. Also if we are serious as a community of wanting passenger service at our Airport then as Leaders we need to upgrade the facilities as a first step and not wait for other interests to initiate the debate.
LARRY PEAREN: Infrastructure development is the number one priority for the city. The City of Yorkton has recently completed the annexation process to secure its agricultural land for residential and highway commercial development. There will be an expected high demand for new residential subdivisions with a variety of lot sizes. The city continues to welcome both rental apartments as well as condo units both which provides additional options for those needing accommodations. Residential developers have been welcomed in recent years with a highly trained and friendly Planning Department. Additional senior housing has also contributed to more homes being placed on the market for occupancy. Replacement of old existing water and sewer lines is being coordinated with resurfacing of streets and sidewalks. Traffic planning continues as we develop our road system, bike lanes, walking paths and green spaces. Truck routes are being expanded outside the main city streets. The city must continue planning for our future growth!
JAMES WILSON: The priority for the City is to ensure we plan for the future by budgeting for a surplus in our savings while controlling and reducing the debt. The present Council has made strides by demonstrating prudent management of tax payer's money. In the past three years Yorkton has had the lowest tax increases of any city in Saskatchewan. We have to continue with this type of leadership to ensure taxes remain low, to respect investment, to work with private developers and continue to attract business so families want to live and work in Yorkton. As Yorkton experiences unprecedented growth we must be prepared for added pressure for infrastructure. Building new and repairing old infrastructure is a priority. This requires a focus on adequate and timely development for housing and business growth. As Council we are accountable for decisions made today but responsible for the impact of those decisions in the future.
CHRIS WYATT: I believe there needs to be a continued focus on the priorities that have been set by the city councils which I have been a part of over that past twelve years. These include; annexing the land needed to grow, putting the infrastructure in place, giving our community state of the art facilities for recreation and leading the province in community owned income based housing. We have hired additional police officers and I think that maintaining a safe community remains a priority. We need to keep public transit affordable and sustainable with the necessary funding. Also, continued emphasis on the rehabilitation of the roads and sidewalks as well as the water and sewer lines beneath them. My goal is to support budgets that are fiscally responsible to the taxpayer and to always question when that is not the case.
What does Council / the City need to do over the next four years to manage anticipated population and business growth?
LES ARNELIEN: To manage our anticipated population and business growth council needs to:
- Retain our positive attitude towards growth and development
- Maintain a business friendly environment
- Ensure an adequate supply of affordable housing
- Continually develop residential and commercial lots for sale
- Lobby our provincial government for an expansion to our Parkland College
- Pay down our city debt
- Make Yorkton a safe community to life and raise a family
- Keep property tax increases below the rate of inflation
We are on the right track. Yorkton is and will be a place "Where Good Things Happen".
ROBBY BEAR: Over the next four years, Council must focus on balancing city growth with the repair and maintenance of infrastructure in existing mature areas of the community. We must make the commitment that future development and programs are citizen friendly, as well as sustainable both environmentally and economically well into the future.
Adequate planning is required to ensure that the growing population of Yorkton continues to have excellent emergency services such as police, medical, fire protection, and equally important, sound infrastructure for the future. In managing growth, the City of Yorkton/Council must ensure there is affordable land for both new and expanding businesses, as well as affordable single family and multi-unit residential units.
ARLISS DELLOW: The City has to do much of what I suggested in the answer to Question #1 and has to continue with funding in reserve for all future development that might be anticipated or may arise. We do not know what demands may be made on the City for housing or business properties, if, any, or all, of the proposed potash mines go ahead in this area of the province nor what spin offs will be needed. Further we need to review all our Bylaws to ensure we are not placing stumbling blocks in the way of anyone, while maintaining an orderly development in each area.
ROSS FISHER: The City has prepared for growth by purchasing land bordering the City that can be used for development. As well, the city is currently preparing land for both residential and commercial development. The city has to work with potential investors to see development take place as we need it.
Our city is more receptive and welcoming to potential investors than several years ago. We need to ensure we have the staff resources to work with investors and developers, both to assist them in moving their projects forward quickly and to ensure that the quality of projects is good for our community.
The city needs to continue working to attract investment for housing. A Housing Committee was established to review our situation and identify community needs; some of their work has helped us to attract housing development. The city has to be prepared to build more seniors housing
RANDY GOULDEN: Businesses and communities are about people. We need to grow the business sector to create opportunities and wealth. Four years from now, we must also be able to say that we have provided people with the services and amenities we all expect: housing, safety for our families, recreation, good roads, safe water, and a fun and healthy place to work and live. We must concentrate on post-secondary education and training youth and adults to fill jobs in our city, and allowing high school graduates to remain here to receive their university or technical training. We must continue to work with the College to bring about an expanded campus because it will benefit business and family life in our community. The demand for housing continues to challenge us, we must continue to partner with the other levels of government and organizations to provide adequate housing of all types.
AARON RM NAGY: We need to build on other streets then Broadway. We need to continue to develop some more land for business and residential properties to help the city to continue to grow. We may also need to take a look at the policing of the city.
RICHARD OKRAINEC: Much of the plan for growth has been implemented from the just completed Annexation of City owned land to the purchase of land to the south of Queen Street. Obtaining these lands was the key for the next 10-years in Yorkton. Replacing and upgrading outdated infrastructure will be a priority as part of a City wide audit. We also need an atmosphere that indicates we are business friendly at City Hall. Looking around the City and all the development taking place both Residential and Commercial certainly indicates we are on the right track. As a Council and City we have completed a long term vision for Yorkton, done with players from the public and administration. As a Councillor I feel very confident we are prepared for this growth.
LARRY PEAREN: The City of Yorkton must have an inventory of land ready and available for both residential and industrial development. This would include new road systems to accommodate the anticipated increased traffic. To support this growth, city hall must have qualified staff who are able to support this growth, by providing long term planning for this development as well as for individuals building in our city. The city must continue to provide the services that our residents have been accustomed to receiving by maintaining a strong workforce with qualified city employees. City bypasses must be further reviewed with a long term plan developed in partnership with both Rural Municipalities to handle increased truck transport. Our airport has become and will continue to play a vital role as we connect to the greater world.
JAMES WILSON: The city needs to ensure we have adequate housing and continue to support business development. Council has acquired more land through recent annexations and will now work with private developers to expand the housing market. The current Council has created the proper climate for growth by working with organizations and businesses. We must continue to invest time working and communicating with provincial and federal government while representing the people of Yorkton. We have to work on health care for the benefit of all, support education expansion for our youth, continually plan and develop adequate housing and address the need for a safe secure city. The current Council has started to invest time with the establishment of a Community Health Collaborative and have donated land for the College expansion. Council established a Housing Committee to support housing and is having continual dialogue with police for more officers as the city grows.
CHRIS WYATT: With the finalization of the latest annexation, we have the necessary land for growth in the areas of residential, business and industrial sectors.
With the completion of the new water treatment plant, we have expanded the capacity for the city to double in population. With fiscal responsibility comes the ability to offer to home and business owner's affordable taxation and exceptional services, one example being snow removal. Long range planning for the future growth of Yorkton has been, and will continue to be a priority. During my twelve years on council, I truly believe we have set the stage for business and population growth for future generations.
When you look around our city what is the one thing you see as lacking that Council needs to take a lead role in addressing?
LES ARNELIEN: Council needs to continue to lobby our provincial government to build a new Trades and Technology Centre at our Parkland College. This new Trades and Technology Centre will help make Parkland College and Yorkton an educational designation for students from the region and around the province. This centre will have the capacity to deliver over 350 full time graduates and provide upgrading programs for 2000 workers per year. We will be able to retain our youth and provide our local businesses with skilled employees. Our city believes so much in this project that we have donated twenty acres of land to our Parkland College valued at 3.48 million dollars. Let's train our youth in Yorkton which will allow for a vibrant residential and business community.
ROBBY BEAR: City Council needs to address the issues we face as a growing community. Council should re-establish and follow a comprehensive action plan that is not only accountable and transparent to the citizens of our community, but a plan with priorities and benchmarks to measure the City’s progress. This plan should encompass issues such as; affordable housing, healthcare, aging and new infrastructure, and training and development opportunities for our youth. A comprehensive plan addressing these issues will ensure the success of the City of Yorkton.
A communication plan should also be implemented to ensure the citizens of Yorkton; have a voice in planning for the future, are well informed of the decisions made, and are provided with the progress of City projects and initiatives.
ARLISS DELLOW: The major thing lacking in the City is housing for the middle income senior. We have lovely facilities for those with low and high incomes but nothing for those ‘caught in the middle’ such as the widow without a pension who may have to sell her home and cannot afford a new condo.
We also need to close the gap for those who now live in such as the Queen Elizabeth and can look after themselves but where do they go when they can’t and do not qualify for the nursing home? There is no place or facility. The City needs to partner with the private sector to provide such accommodation. Approximately 25 per cent of our current population is over the age of 60 and these numbers are increasing, we need to be ready for the coming explosion in the upper age bracket.
ROSS FISHER: Rather than one big thing that needs to be addressed there are two items. The city has been working hard with the province, doctors, and a private developer to see a private medical clinic, and, a private personal care home built in Yorkton. We need to see that move forward as it addresses a definite need in the community.
We also need to see the Parkland College expansion take place; Council needs to be diligent in its communication and lobbying efforts for the college. Council has set aside land for the college expansion, and we have met with the former Minister of Education and the Minister of Finance to try and move this development forward. A College with an expanded range of classes and programs would provide a huge benefit to Yorkton and the surrounding region.
RANDY GOULDEN: City Council must address the continuing need of investing in our infrastructure including roads, sidewalks, water and sewer lines, and city-owned facilities. Yorkton is experiencing unprecedented growth, with growth comes costs for infrastructure. These investments are recoverable and are absolutely necessary. But as we invest in the future and build new neighborhoods and commercial areas; we cannot forget about renewal. People of Yorkton expect that the roads, streets and water are safe. Our city is a leader in the facilities that we use for recreation, culture and sport but to continue these services we must insure that maintenance keeps up with the needs of our citizens. As we welcome new Canadians to our city, we must ensure that we meet the needs for new programs and services. The new City Council will have many demands to meet in this growing economy, requiring intensive planning and prioritization.
AARON RM NAGY: City council has done great the past few years but the youth need a voice. I want to be there for people in my generation. I think this will help make our city more friendly and hospitable to the younger generation with programs, and events to keep young people busy. I think we need to work on some tourism we need to bring something to the city that will bring people from around the area to know Yorkton is the place to be.
RICHARD OKRAINEC: It’s always difficult to pick just one thing. I do feel the Infrastructure and the College groundwork is well underway and will remain a priority. So with those addressed I would say Passenger Air Service for everyone in the area. This has been kicked around for many years in Yorkton, and there is even some interest from a company as we speak. However if we want Passenger Service we as Leaders need to make some significant upgrades to the Airport. Items like a Terminal Building which doesn’t currently exist, Water & Sewer Lines installed, Road work to the site, upgrading the Runway and many other items will need to be addressed. If we want to continue our momentum of growth we will need to upgrade this facility. Certainly I am willing to work with the Airport Authority to ensure this takes place.
LARRY PEAREN: The city is currently doing an inventory of all city owned buildings, their current conditions and appraised market value. With this assessment comes the responsibility of maintaining them through repair or replacement. It will involve long term planning to deal with the identified deficiencies. Our council must be ready to work through this process with annual budgetary support.
JAMES WILSON: We have a great community that we should be proud of. People here are hard working and care for one another. We have a great heritage and culture we can boast about. Council has made many strides over the past years to improve and develop our community by first listening to you. Our Council of today started with a Community Strategic Planning session involving the people of the community. This must continue on – we must listen to the people. We can always improve and should always be striving for improvement. If we had to point at one or two items in general, it would be that Council needs to continue to work closely with law and safety enforcement. We must be open to new ideas and views from people to lessen the burden on the tax payer while addressing the needs of housing, health care, education, roads and recreation.
CHRIS WYATT: I believe that the city could play a more active role in attracting physicians and patient services. As a health region, we have a huge number of people requiring services, and sadly, many of the specialized services are available only out of region. Having recently had health concerns in our family requiring many trips to Regina, it drove home the issue of how many of us are required to travel long distances to receive the necessary care. I would support any initiative to bring to our city the people and equipment necessary to lessen the burden of illness for our residents. As the funding for the Gallagher center nears its end, over one million dollars a year will be available for financing projects such as a new health center and the equipment needed.