Three items, but only one tabled change

Lisa Goudy
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After councillors re-reviewed all three items from last week’s executive committee meeting, only one result is slightly different.

At Monday’s council meeting, Coun. Brian Swanson requested a revote on the items considered at the meeting — the draft property maintenance and nuisance bylaw, the Urban Highway Connector Program and the request for proposals for the redevelopment of the Natatorium and Phyllis Dewar Outdoor Pool.

Regarding the urban highway program, Swanson said signing onto it should be tabled to executive committee pending a report describing the projected operating and maintenance costs in operating and capital budgets in the long-term capital liabilities the city will assume.

“I don’t know whether I’m in favour of this or opposed. What I’m requesting is more information,” said Swanson. “As an elected official, if I enter into an agreement that transfers liability for tens of millions of dollars in infrastructure that the report asking me to do that should contain that information.”

The program is an agreement between municipalities and the province where the province provides funding to help municipalities repair and maintain major connector roads. Moose Jaw is the last of 16 cities to sign on.

The program includes work on the Highway 2 overpass. It was passed in a vote of 4-3 with Swanson, Mayor Deb Higgins, Coun. Don Mitchell and Coun. Dawn Luhning in favour and Coun. Heather Eby, Coun. Patrick Boyle and Coun. Candis Kirkpatrick opposed.

While discussing the Natatorium and outdoor pool property, Swanson made a motion to eliminate the option of demolishing the outdoor pool. He said if the motion from executive committee passed at council, theoretically the outdoor pool could be closed in five weeks. He stated no developer would demolish the outdoor pool and build a new outdoor pool.

“What this request for proposals is calling for (in) the options presented to the developers is you can buy the Natatorium plus the outdoor pool, demolish the outdoor pool and build something else there and make it private land,” said Swanson.

“Just imagine the condo Mr. Trump could build if only the City of New York would sell him part of Central Park.”

But Kirkpatrick said councillors retain the right to reject any or all of the proposals that might come forward.

“How can we out right reject something that we haven’t even heard about? This is simply a motion to have a request for proposal. We may well have a proposal that comes forward that includes the outdoor pool. We don’t know that,” she said.

“The Natatorium building, except for the (mechanical) that keeps the outdoor pool operating, has been vacant for 20 years. I think that it’s irresponsible of us to not try to do something with that property.”

Eby added if councillors do nothing, it is equivalent of status quo.

“The Natatorium is not the Phyllis Dewar Outdoor Pool. They’re two separate things. I know they’re married because of mechanical and the dressing rooms, but they are two separate things,” she said.

Other councillors indicated their support for issuing the RFP.

Luhning sided with Swanson, adding that the pool’s season is over in five weeks and it might not re-open next year.

Swanson’s amendment was defeated with only Swanson and Luhning in favour. The RFP was passed as it did in executive committee.

Property bylaw - invasive or required?

Coun. Brian Swanson called the draft property maintenance and nuisance bylaw “intrusive” and “expensive.” The bylaw would include requirements to keep weeds clear, clean-up yard waste and other clutter on property, but it also included a section for properties to have modern fire prevention measures in place.

It would be enforced on a complaint-driven basis where inspectors can go into dwellings that aren’t structurally sound. Swanson said landlords renting older properties might have an issue.

“I’m very skeptical of that … I don’t think we need to be in the job as a city of inspecting homes,” said Swanson. “I know it was brought up with respect to rentals … If you own a house in Moose Jaw in which you do not live, your home could be inspected without your knowledge because only the occupant of the house is necessary (to initiate an inspection).”

Coun. Don Mitchell argued the bylaw is “essential.”

“Some other municipalities are much more proactive in terms of providing internal inspection and regulation and enforcement. This is complaint driven precisely because of limits of resources,” he said. “(We can be) in a position as part of a collective response by community agencies with a variety of mandates to deal with situations, situations that threaten health conditions of rental families in particular.”

The motion was carried with only Swanson opposed.

Follow Lisa Goudy on Twitter @lisagoudy

Organizations: Highway 2

Geographic location: Moose Jaw, New York, Central Park

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