Some poor decisions were made in the Scoop Lewry Room of city hall on Monday.
The first involved a draft property maintenance and nuisance bylaw.
While many of the measures contained therein were sensible — requirements to keep noxious weeds clear, tidy up yard waste, and remove clutter on property exteriors — others weren’t.
The greatest issue was a measure intended to improve fire safety in century homes, but that may result in unintentionally higher costs for Moose Jaw landlords.
The measure suggested that, on an on-complaint basis, bylaw officers with the aid of the proper authority — be it fire inspectors, police officers, or the like — could enter a premises and check to make sure that its fire prevention measures between suites are compliant with the National Building Code.
Such a measure would make sense in a city that isn’t full of century homes that were built before the Code was introduced. But in a market as housing-starved as the Friendly City, incentives to improve fire safety in old buildings might have been the better road.
Instead, the new bylaw will force renovations on an on-complaint basis — and you can bet those expenses will be passed on to tenants.
To be fair, the draft bylaw will be presented to council, and so it is far from final. But given the vote at executive, changes are unlikely.
In a discussion about the Urban Highway Connector Program (UHCP), the committee made its second poor choice of the night.
The UHCP is an agreement made between municipalities and the province wherein the province provides funding to assist municipalities in repairing and maintaining major connector and commuter roads within their communities.
In exchange for the upfront funding, the province’s commitment declines with each successive repair job, while the city progressively takes on more of the tab.
On paper, it is generally a good agreement, and Moose Jaw is the province’s only city that has yet to sign on.
But circumstances are variable from one city to the next, and without all of the numbers a responsible decision is impossible to make.
In defeating a motion by Coun. Brian Swanson seeking some of those numbers — namely, the full cost of taking the roadways on — executive demonstrated a critical lack of judgment.
That they did so largely on the pretence the UHCP agreement could vanish at any moment when it has been in existence for several years and doesn’t seem to show any sign of being eliminated, was the cherry on the sundae.
The last misstep, but certainly not the least, involved continued tire-kicking on the Natatorium.
As mentioned in a recent Times-Herald editorial, and in this reporter’s coverage of the discussion, the Nat has been a recurring hot topic.
Council has consistently put off making a firm commitment one way or the other on the Natatorium, in spite of the fact that is exactly what it needs.
Either they need to pony up and put enough money into the building to restore it, or they need to find a developer who will do something with the land.
The reason for the indecision is plain to see.
City council is afraid of the response it will receive, regardless of which route it chooses to take.
Some Moose Javians would object to what may be perceived as a waste of taxpayer dollars in revitalizing the structure. Others would see it as a betrayal of the city’s heritage — perhaps on the same scale as the destruction of Temple Gardens — if council allows it to be knocked down.
But these individuals were elected to govern, and sooner or later a decision will have to be made. That they can’t decide on something is another sign seemingly pointing toward poor leadership.
The Natatorium is in dire shape, and the only way sitting on it and doing nothing makes any sense at all is if council wants to see it collapse.
If that is the case, council should pull the trigger, close the facilities and bring in the bulldozer before somebody is injured. What is needed is a hard line, not a soft touch.
As with other issues tackled in this very same term, city council needs to come to a decision and then it needs to stand by it. On the Natatorium, that’s the only solution that will work.
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