Live City Check-In: One-on-one with Saskatoon Mayor Charlie Clark

A candid conversation with Saskatoon Mayor Charlie Clark, on how his city is dealing with the challenges of COVID-19 and what the short, medium and long-term impacts on the city could look like.

5 Key
Takeaways

A roundup of the most compelling ideas, themes and quotes from this candid conversation

1. Stepping up to the plate 

Mayor Charlie Clark said one of the most incredible things that he’s seen through COVID-19 is the quick action of City of Saskatoon staff to reorganize city operations in a way unimaginable under normal circumstances. “I am so proud of our staff for that ability to adapt. We were able to go out to our citizens and say, ‘No matter what, we’ll be able to provide services,’” he said.

2. Rethinking partnerships for a new urbanism

While COVID-19 has been top-of-mind for Saskatoon over the last two months, Mayor Clark was quick to acknowledge that a continuing priority is how to evolve the city’s relationship with First Nations and Metis partners – and how to apply their teachings to city building. “The elders here have shared with me, that the treaty (six) is about living in right relationship on this land. And with that idea, we can change in our cities and our communities and become much more diverse and rethink our relationship with the land,” he said. “This is becoming a foundational teaching that will tie in many ways to what New Urbanism is about and what city building should be about in this next century.”

3. Creating space for new conversations

Mayor Clark posed a fundamental question about city building during the discussion: How can we create the conditions for conversations to think bigger and broader about what the future of a city will look like? “What are the risks if we do not understand what the next generation is going to be looking for in cities? What conditions do we need to be creating for what the realities of tomorrow are going to be?” he asked. “We are not trying to force any solution, but want to try new things, and we are looking for latitude to try and fail.”

4. Four-Corner Table

The Big City Mayors Caucus and the Federation of Canadians Municipalities have been talking more and more about a “four-corner table” – bringing together municipalities, provincial governments, the federal government and First Nations’ governments, “In recent years, when there is a misalignment between the federal and provincial governments, municipalities end up stuck in between,” Mayor Clark said. “Canada is an urban country now. And if we are going to successfully rebuild the economy . . . we must recognize that without cities, the country’s rebuild is going to be much more difficult.”

5. Marriage between expert opinion and local knowledge

Mayor Clark said that collaboration has been important to the city’s success. “Saskatoon wants to make some very big, bold moves that in many cases can be completely divisive within a city and can completely turn into ‘us versus them,’” he said. He added that the way the city approaches decisions is by balancing thoughtful expert opinion with the important local knowledge that people have. “People are so aware of their street, their block, their sidewalk . . . in city building, we see the importance of relationships, importance of trust, and importance of communication.”

Additional Reading
& Resources
Full Panel
Transcript

Note to readers: This video session was transcribed using auto-transcribing software. Manual editing was undertaken in an effort to improve readability and clarity. Questions or concerns with the transcription can be directed to events@canurb.org with “transcription” in the subject line. 

Mary Rowe [00:00:39] Hi, everybody, welcome to City Talk. Good morning in Saskatchewan and good day here in Central Canada, a little earlier in western Canada. And they’re having getting ready for their afternoon tea on the Atlantic. I’m Mary Rowe, CEO of the Canadian Urban Institute. Really pleased to have the mayor of Saskatoon, Charlie Clark, with us to talk about his perspective on cities in the time of COVID. And we originate these broadcasts in Toronto. And so although we have participants across the country. And so we always acknowledge that Toronto is the original territory of the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Haudenosaunee of the Annishnabec, and the Chippewa and the Wendat peoples. And it’s now home to many diverse First Nations folks from anywhere to Naty across Turtle Island. And also Toronto is also covered by Treaty 13, covered signed by the Mississauga’s of the Credit and the Williams treaties signed with multiple Annishnabec, nations. And we are very cognizant that Mayor Clark has a particular constituency and several constituencies from the First nations communities. And so we’ll be interested to hear his perspective on that and how that’s helpful has been affecting those particular egments of his population. City Talk is part of three platforms that the Canadian Urban Institute initiated since COVID. The first was City Watch Canada, the second city share Canada. Both DOT CA,  and now CityTalkCanada.ca. And the three of these platforms are really opportunities to demonstrate how important it is to have connective tissue that connects people across urban Canada working in different kinds of circumstances, but often struggling with similar challenges and all the things that we’re learning through coded. We wanted to have platforms so that people could quickly see how other places were coping, adjusting, innovating. And none of that is stopping because COVID is here for a while and it’s challenging our resilience and all sorts of ways. And the question is, can we harvest lessons and learnings and can we adapt quickly as we continue to be confronted by different challenges as the weather gets hotter, as people choose to spend more and more time disconnected from their families, from their workplaces, from their schools or that kind of thing. What are the longer term impacts? So we’re looking forward to hearing from your car. His particular perspective, not only in terms of what’s happening in Saskatoon, but also what he’s observing with his colleagues and his peers in other cities across the country. A lot of CUI work is is driven by volunteers and partner organizations. So if you’d like to help us, we’re really keen to have you please email us at COVIDresponse@CANURB.ORG. We’re gearing up to continue to try to foster this connective tissue and galvanize galvanize our energies on two things. One is a roadmap for the recovery of Canada and where we need lots and lots of input. And the second is bring back Main Street.ca, which is focusing on local economies and main streets of which every community of every size in Canada, We’ve all got to Main Street. They look different. They behave differently. But we all want to see if we can really harvest the best practices and collectively rebuild economies in a way that serves people. So please volunteer with us. With these conversations are always the beginning. As people know, we always want to continue further conversations. So you can do that on social media using the hashtag city talk. You can also participate here on this chat function. And we’ve been very I want to just just say to our city talk participants and the people, the panelists really appreciate what you’re putting into the chat. And we actually post the videos of these conversations. We do a take a 15 sort of five or six key point take away. And then we publish the chat because people find the chat so useful. Resources are being put there. People are sharing chat, solutions, ideas. And so feel free. Knock yourselves out. Put all that you want in that Chatbox just know that what you do put in the chat is gonna be seen by hundreds and hundreds of other people who are going to see it after the fact. So just keep in mind what goes in the chat stays in the chat. The other thing just to say is that we are cognizant that we’re having these conversations and there are still thousands of Canadians engaged in frontline service, keeping people safe, saving people’s lives. And we don’t ever want these conversations to be seen as a distraction or in any way interfering with the delivery of emergency services. Which brings us to having a conversation with you, Mr. Mayor, because municipal governments have been on the front line from the beginning. You’ve had to be unbelievably nimble and responsive and you’ve had to do that in circumstances where your resources were already pretty, pretty diminished because we know that there are challenges with communist parties actually are funded in Canada. So we want to I want to talk with you about what you know, your immediate experience has been through, coded it through word no arguing in week eleven now and then. I want to talk a little bit about the future. And I also just want to acknowledge that we started. You’re the first session we’ve ever started with music and our little innovation there was to see if we could do a clip of Joni Mitchell. Of course, as I’ve been repeatedly corrected at see Saskatoon as her home town, and we wanted to have that clip because we were wondering whether or not cold it is actually about paving paradise. And let’s see. Are we going to know what we got before it’s gone, et cetera. So over to you, Mayor Clark. Thank you so much for joining us in City Talk. We’re very keen to hear what you can tell us about all things Saskatoon.

Mayor Charlie Clark [00:06:02] Well, thank you very much, Mary and good morning to everybody and thank you very much to the Canadian Urban Institute for a good morning and good afternoon, I should say, for hosting these very important talks and engagements. And I think one thing that this new sort of digital’s circumstance it has created is a lot more opportunity to rapidly and quickly create dialog across different communities and sectors, because we can just jump on a call like this talk show experience to have questions and answers. And I think that’s important. I think that’s what we are all. Nobody has a roadmap for this circumstance. And so I really want to thank the Urban Institute for your leadership in fostering this. I’m really happy that you started off with Joni Mitchell. We’re so proud that she did Saskatoon as our hometown and as she has acknowledged many times, a very formative part of Joni’s life. And as mayor, I was really proud that we were able to organize the community and working with Joni to name a very significant promenade right down by our new  modern art gallery as the Joni Mitchell Promenade. We were going to eat, but we realized that would be ironic given the right place. And so we we decided to make it about a sidewalk, a place for people to walk, not for cars, drive. We had a lot of fun doing it. I want to recognize that I’m joining you from Treaty Six Territoty, and traditional Homeland of the Metee,  Soto, the Cree, the DNA, the Lakota and then the people. And we’re in Saskatoon, about an hour’s drive south of Fort Carlton, where the original Treaty six was signed. And then the last several years in particular, our understanding of the importance of those treaties and how we have to completely rethink what it means to be in partnership with with our First Nations and Mete Partners is really coming to bear. And as the elders here have shared with me, that the treaty is about living in right relationship on this land. And so that relation, that idea as we change in our cities and our communities and become much more diverse and also rethink our relationship with the land is becoming a foundational teaching that I think ties in many ways to what New Urbanism is about and what, you know, what city building should be about in this next century. So thank you for your recognition of that component of our history as well.

Mayor Charlie Clark [00:08:35] So can we. Tell us a little bit about the experience that you’ve had in Saskatoon and actually in the province as a whole, if you can? What what is the level of instance been of the virus hasn’t been concentrating particular communities. And you’re you’re already at, I think, your second phase of reopening. So you’re you’re quite I think you’re further ahead, certainly in Ontario or Quebec is so. Can you just tell us just give us the basics.

Mayor Charlie Clark [00:09:00] Yeah. Hard to summarize everything and to be short, but essentially right now we are we have announced for not, we the province has announced phase three of reopening for June 9th, that we’re at a phase right now where we can now have get our hairs, get haircuts. There’s there’s actually retail stores, non-essential retail stores have been able to open under strict conditions. A lot of the medical treatments and physio and dental services are open. And we still have a restriction on gathering’s over 10 people. We I’ve said and I know other mayors have said this, but but I’ve said it with some conviction. I think we’re in one of the best places in the world to be going through this pandemic. We it’s just like everybody else. The world changed right around March 12th and 13th. It just so happen. Saskatoon was going to be hosting the Junos on March 14th and 15th.

Mary Rowe [00:09:56] That’s right.

Mayor Charlie Clark [00:09:58] And and so that time leading up to the Junos, I’ll never forget. I mean, on Wednesday of the week, the Junos were supposed to be hosted at the World Health Organization, announced this was gonna be a pandemic and the United States announced they were banning all international travel. As of that morning, our health and our medical health guidance was we should we could probably go ahead with the Juno’s. The risk was deemed to be lowest if physical distancing was practiced. And so we’re going this seems crazy. What are we going to do here? And by that evening, it was clear that that this was everything was going to change. And there was a frantic process of coming to terms with cancelation of the Junos and. And by that Sunday, we had shut our leisure centers down. We had we had already started to implement a system to give people property tax deferrals and not deferrals on payments. We had realized by the next couple of days later that we were gonna have to shut transit, that we were going to have to make provide free transit. So because we didn’t want people to go through the front doors and completely change our transit system. And like everybody else, it everything changed. We’ve been incredibly blessed by a really, really strong emergency management organization and a director. And Pamela Golden MacLeod is the woman who’s been one of our chief. You know, that that we’ve turned to and that’s guiding us along and helped really take a lot of the politics out of things because of providing that sort of expert advice and decision making that that people have deferred to. And so we’ve just. And working together one step at a time to learn and adapt. And I think, you know, watching what’s going on in the United States and seeing the conflict and the tension and people battling over what whether this is real or not, I just feel so fortunate that in our in our province and in our city, rather than I mean, we’re seeing some of that some of that doubt and some of the trolls on Twitter and some of those things. But but overall, people have just really worked together. And we’ve gotten up to one hundred fifty five cases in Saskatoon. But two deaths, which I don’t want to minimize any deaths are tragic. And they’re very, you know, have a huge impact on the family. But what was being projected was to have thousands of cases and thousands of deaths. So we we feel like by everybody coming together, we’ve avoided it. And so now as the reopening is happening, there’s this combination of hope and anxiety about are we going to see a next wave? What steps can be one? You know, like other communities. So so that’s kind of a closed notes of our situation.

Mayor Charlie Clark [00:12:46] Thanks. You know, the anecdote about the Juno’s is sort of, I think an illustration of one of the challenges for smaller communities are actually it’s not just smaller communities and urban environments are dependent on large events, you know, conferences, conventions, the Juno Awards. I know myself, I do different places and I know those when those events are coming to town, the level of readiness and the level of expectation of what the commercial dollars are going to be there to be generated and the spin offs, effects and all that stuff. And it’s a blow. I think that that I mean, when will we have another man? Are we going to have a Juno? You know, that’s going to actually be a or a or a great cop or these or large large gatherings. Business can conventions or is. How are you sort of anticipating that a community the size of Saskatoon is going to navigate that? I don’t know what percentage of your, you know, sort of GDP in the sea was derived from tourism in those kinds of events. And you guys started to think about that.

Mayor Charlie Clark [00:13:45] Oh, absolutely. Well, right off the bat, we were trying to think about when would we be able to get the Juno’s back? I mean, there was millions of dollars invested in that. The stage was built  I mean, and it was a chance to show off our city. I mean, the Saskatoon has we’ve opened the modern art gallery. We’ve we have a burgeoning tech center. We have and we have an amazing restaurant scene. We have a new music children’s museum in our community. Wannaskatuin Heritage Park, which has ten thousand years of history of indigenous culture, is under. And what we’ve brought bison back onto the plains. There’s some incredible things that we want to show the world are going on in our community. And we have been we’ve seen more international conferences. We’ve we were the topic, one of the top 62 places to visit in the world in The New York Times in 2018 because they’re seeing this incredible energy in Saskatoon. And so there’s been all this momentum and then suddenly … The air comes out of the balloon and and we’ve got a shuttered arena. We’ve got a shuttered  convention center and a lot of uncertainty. We have a world class university that has been bringing in worldwide conferences on a whole range of topics. You know, we’re a hub for agriculture. We’re a hub for medical research and a lot of these different areas. I do want to note that we have had a successful trial for animal in ferrets, for a vaccine for COVID19 at the in Saskatoon at our Vito Interbank Facility, which is which is focused on coming up with vaccines for these kind of viruses. So we’re really we’re really trying to you know, we showed it how how much what’s going on in Saskatoon is relevant to the world. And now we have to determine what, when and how do we invite people back into our community to be part of that? Yeah, and there’s lots of lots of questions. But but what we know is we’re going through them the same way as everyone else. And if we can successfully reopen and not have a second wave and really learn how to monitor, trace and and keep the virus contained, then that might give us the ability. And I don’t want to say an edge, but the opportunity to demonstrate as a stable community that has been able to manage this successfully, that we could be one of the leaders in helping to be a place for for some of that gathering to happen or what or for people to come and invest and be part of our community. That is one potential way that this could play out.

Mary Rowe [00:16:26] Is there a focus in Saskatchewan, as there seems to be in other parts of the country, trying to get in-province tourism that maybe.

Mayor Charlie Clark [00:16:33] Yes.

Mary Rowe [00:16:35] People from other parts of the province will come to Saskatoon. And can you. Do you think that you’re gonna be able to build any kind of real local economy that’s then dependent on local consumers more?

Mayor Charlie Clark [00:16:44] Yeah. That’s absolutely been the conversation. You know, our restaurants are opening and as part of the June 8th event, things like the Raymi Modern Art Gallery is a large space with lots of room for people to come to, to enjoy art and enjoy experiences without necessarily being clustered into a into a space. Same thing with the place like Wantascala,. And what I mentioned, it’s a heritage park outside of just on the edge of the city that we could still be people could still be having those experiences. Camping is is now allowed. Golf is now allowed in. So I think an important part of the recovery is realizing if it’s going to happen in stages, then absolutely. It makes sense. You start with your own population. You start. People are restless. People obviously are looking for things to do, looking for experiences. And so we what. What’s great is that almost within the third day of the of the pandemic being declared, I got on a call with our business leaders in the community and that included tourism, that included the hospitality industry, the hotels. But also, you know, you know, our Chamber of Commerce and and university leaders. And we all just said, OK, we’re in this together. Let’s talk about what we’re facing. And let’s talk about what we need to do to get through this. And we’ve been having these these regular calls to all our tourism. Saskatoon lead. Todd Brant has been updating us about what they’re doing from that point of view of the visitor economy and how they’re staging and where we’re sharing experience. We’re coming at bringing common voice to the provincial government on many of these issues. And that’s exactly the kind of thing that we’re trying to sort out.

Mary Rowe [00:18:25] And if I can just encourage people in the chat to direct your comments like this is for you, Jared Stevenson, you sent a note to  panelist, but can you send it to the panelists and attendees so everybody can see it? I’d be great. Yeah. The thing is, it’s always great to people on the chat. Just check in and just tell us where you’re from. I see we got somebody from Stratford, but he created just quickly just to pop in and tell us where you’re watching from. That would be helpful for us to their car. One of the I guess one of the dilemmas that we’ve got that you’re just to illustrate and we see it in the larger cities. I think that even more intensity is that you’ve had to continue to provide services, but you’re not collecting any user fees. Right. So talk to us about about how you’ve been able to determine those priorities within the city, especially. You’ve had to lay some people off. I know. How did you how did you make those decisions?

Mayor Charlie Clark [00:19:12] Yeah, this has been one of the most incredible things to see our staff be able to reorganize entire city operations in a very short period of time in a way that, you know, you would never have thought imaginable, you know, under normal circumstances. So within a week, we realized that one of the most critical things that we needed to prepare for was to be able to know that we could keep water coming into people’s households, keep our sewer working, make sure that garbage was going to be able to be collected. You know how our police and fire out there operating, but we didn’t know if if what happens if the virus goes through our entire garbage collection. Right. Goes through our police service. You know, and now schools are shut down. So so people have to be home with their kids because there’s nowhere for them to be a day care. And so staff, we realized, holy crap, we’re going to really need to make sure we’ve got a lot of contingency to be able to keep our services running. And so it was just incredible that, you know, our staff all sat down. Everybody came to the table and said, yep, let’s figure this out. And we basically said we’re going to organize our entire operations so that we can keep our essential services running. We just knock down our leaders facilities. We we we we we realized what what’s essential, what’s non-essential. And and we will the the facilities. I mean, in many ways everything’s essential. But we have, you know, following those guidances, we couldn’t operate, you know, a lot of those areas. And and we needed to know we could keep the community safe and keep quality of life for our residents through this, not knowing how long this was going to take. And so we had to, as I mentioned earlier, take transit and say we can’t collect fares because we cannot people coming through the front door and the driver is sitting there exposed if the virus is, you know, if somebody has the virus. And so we just said free transit and parking and parking enforcement. And because, you know, everybody’s movements were completely different. And. And you can’t be touching the parking meters, screens, all those things. So immediately our revenue. Dropped. I mean, we we are losing four million dollars. And it’s now I Toronto I mean, I know the numbers in Toronto and some other large cities for us. It was estimated that we would have a 60 million dollar deficit by December, 30 million dollar deficit by December and a 20 million dollar deficit if if things were if there was in place that June. And that’s net after after any of the cost savings from layoff. And the other elements that we have in place. And so those are revenues that there’s no non-recoverable. There’s no way to put those back in there. And they’re based on a budget that had been set in for us in December. And so it creates a real dilemma. You know, where we’re doing it to follow the provincial guidance and the and the Canadian guidance. So it’s the right thing to do. Absolutely. And. But financially, it creates a significant challenge for us and many other cities, along with the fact that people are using less power, less water. All the things that are actually ours, we have. What are you two ladies? We have our utility. Those are things that we rely on in our budget as well. So that I’m so proud of our staff for that ability to adapt into for us to be able to go out to our citizens and say we no matter what, we’re gonna get your garbage picked up in your recycling picked up and we’re gonna get water to your house because people are so stressed. We knew we needed to be able to reassure them and say we’re going to be there for you no matter what happens in our staff because of all the work that they did. We’re able to say that. And so when we talk about cities being on the front. And I think the growing understanding of the role of cities in quality of life of people, that was one of the moments where it really came clear to me is that it will make or break our residents lives. If we can be figure out how to make sure we can be a solid, steady, predictable partner service and in their lives as a city. And I’m really proud we were able to do that.

Mary Rowe [00:23:30] Yeah. I mean, I’m like you. It’s it’s sort of unbelievable demonstration of, you know, people like you. And I actually know what level of government pays for which service spent most most of us don’t. Those people have no idea who’s responsible for this or that. And when things screw up, it’s difficult then for residents to know who to hold accountable, to say I don’t have enough housing in my place or I don’t. Transit isn’t right or whatever it is. And it’s with X, obviously, with exceptions, people know their property taxes are too high. They want to blame the disparity. But the dilemma that you probably would respond to on that is that you’re so dependent on the property tax that it creates a burden that. So, for instance, with our work on Main Streets, bring back Main Street. One of the issues for Main Streets, independent businesses to hold on to Main Street tenancies is that the property tax is high. And if we so is, are we going to have to come out of this really fundamentally rethinking how public resources are allocated between the different orders of government, both so that so that your level of government is more equipped to be able to meet needs. And also that I as a taxpayer can have a clearer line of accountability if something isn’t right. And I want to be. I want to exercise my my discontent with that. And I can go to the obvious deliver on it. Are you are you do you think this is a moment to have this conversation, to have a really fundamental, systemic conversation about this stuff?

Mayor Charlie Clark [00:25:00] I’d certainly like to I mean I mean, certainly at the big city mayors caucus table and with through the Federation of Canadians municipalitie we’ve been talking more and more about a four corner table where you’ve got municipalities, provinces like Federal government and First Nations governments. And we’re recognizing we’re partners in helping to keep people healthy and safe in our communities, to deliver services to people and to keep our economy going. And and and right now, I mean, it’s oh, feels like there’s this sort of hierarchy and cities are just seen as this stakeholder to other levels of government. And what has been very challenging and actually in recent years is that when there’s a misalignment between the federal and provincial governments and this kind of really complicated across the country situation where provincial governments have some powers, the federal government has some powers and municipalities anyways are stuck in between. We don’t feel recognized as as partners as. As part of the solution. As as. And there’s no question, even when it comes to the economic recovery in in Canada, we are an urban country now. You know, we’ve we’ve got, you know, a huge majority of the percentage of our country is now living in cities. And if we’re going to successfully rebuild the economy, cities are on the frontlines. Our ability to have the infrastructure in place and everything from the digital infrastructure to the physical, the roads and the bridges and and the train lines coming through communities and the and the the trading networks and all of those pieces, as well as fostering the quality of life that the new economy is looking for and attracting the talent into our communities. And right now it is yes, from a fiscal point of view, we don’t want to be just feel like we’re having to beg for support to the levels of government. We want to be in an active conversation about how we’d be partners in that and the property tax system that limit our flexibility in a huge way. When the economy grows, the provincial and federal coffers grow and it grows in significant ways. We don’t the only thing we can do is to incrementally adjust that property tax. And it’s a huge battle every year, you know, to do that, to get the revenues we need to build the programs and the systems to keep quality of life. And it’s it’s a frustrating battle. And right now, in the face of this pandemic, there’s a big question mark as to whether or not we’re gonna get some support from the federal government in particular. We’ve been fortunate in Saskatchewan that our provincial government did come up with an infrastructure funding program that’s very flexible, that I’m very grateful for. That actually is going to give us some ability to have some more comfort getting through this. But not every provinces is in that situation. And so, again, I want to thank our provincial government because.

Mary Rowe [00:28:01] So just just tell us about that. Are you saying that Premier Noel and his government has been able to make capital money available to you for infrastructure? So does that mean you can take some of your own capital reserves and reallocate them to the operations where you have the deficit?

Mayor Charlie Clark [00:28:14] Yeah, so they came up with something called the MEEP program… Municipal. Oh, crap. I’m going to forget this acronym. But anyway, it’s called MEEP and. And so it’s one hundred and fifty million dollar allocation to cities across across Saschatchewan. For us that means thirty four million dollars. And it is for capital. It’s it’s designed to make sure that we can continue to keep people working to invest in infrastructure, to improve infrastructure, to stimulate the economy and all of those components. But what it does mean is that in some cases we’d like you said, we can look at some of our capital projects that we would have funded otherwise through our capital allocation out of operating and make sure that we can continue to do those and not have to defer them and in that case, take away some of the pressure off from our operating budget. And so I think it’s a very successful approach to this challenge because we hope, by and large, we’re facing a one time loss. Not I mean, some of it will take a long time to come back, but you never want to use capital to pay for operating on a regular basis. But this is a unique, you know, hopefully time limited situation where that kind of solution can really make a difference. And so we really need to see that kind of thinking  from across the country and from the federal government.  FGM has put a proposal forward. I support it and I support, again, this idea. Let’s all see that we’re in this together and recognize that without cities, the countries rebuild is going to be much more difficult.

Mary Rowe [00:29:49] I mean, you talked about the four corner table. I love that. Where you’ve got where instead of being at the moment kind of a bilateral table of first ministers, you’re saying let’s make it a four, for example. I hear that, I guess. The interesting thing, the illustration you’re providing, though, is that in your case, the province was the sort of first mover. And I think that’s part of the dilemma with the with the dynamics we’ve got now is that the FCM has gone and said they want the federal government to intervene. And no one could imagine the federal government would say within their own minds, quote, back to themselves. This phrase you and I’ve heard for years, which is that cities are the creatures of their provinces. And so where is the province in these machinations? And do you ultimately imagine different kinds of revenue tools being put in the hands of municipalities and those would be granted either by the government or in many cases, the province? Are you would you want to do that? Would you want to start collecting an income tax? Would you want to have some which I tend to get a chunk of that percentage off the HST. What are you thinking?

Mayor Charlie Clark [00:30:51] Yeah, I mean, there’s a number of different options, you know. Could it be direct? You know, we right now have a gas tax allocation, but it’s not actually tied directly to the gas taxes. But, you know, there’s there’s those top penny taxes, something that’s been identified for municipalities. We actually right now get from our from the provincial relationship point seventy five percent of one percent of the time. So we have a seven cent, seven percent sorry, GST. Yes, we get one quarter of one of those points as the municipal revenue sharing tool. It’s very effective way of providing predictable revenue to municipalities. That it is. It is is a flexible utilize. So, again, I want to thank and recognize that over the years here and and it’s been supported by Premier Noel, there are tools in place that can be used and recognize that there’s limits to what cities can do using just property tax. And we need that kind of support in place. So I think whether it’s a part of the HST, that would be incredible, obviously. It’s just really the idea of we’re partners. And right now, when when the provinces and the federal government doesn’t get along or doesn’t agree on what the implementation should be, we’re seeing this with the infrastructure funding as well, the international the individual bilateral agreements and the ISTEP program. When those when you can’t get alignment between what those two governments want to fund, the municipalities are sitting there saying, OK, well, no, no, no. And we’re away. We’ve been doing a lot of these conversations. Figure out where the sweet spot could be or could we find one? Because in this case, there’s two different ideas. The federal government wants to fund transit and our provincial government has not been as supportive of that. And so that that tension creates a dilemma because we’re sort of stuck on the other side. We’re making progress. I want to recognize and acknowledge that there’s been some really, I think, more constructive conversations with our provincial and federal government. But you’re just at the mercy of how that plays out and it ends up with kids getting stuck. You know what? As a result, the dynamic.

Mary Rowe [00:33:13] Yeah. I mean, we’re you know, I’m I know that that I hear this anecdotally from people all the time, that people have really enjoyed the respite from constant political acrimony. You know, that would be happening at certainly at the provincial and the federal level, where you’re just being barraged with what the ruling government is proposing and what the opposition and I appreciate that there’s a dynamic called democracy, parliamentary democracy. But I do think people have been relieved a little bit to not have to hear that buzzing all around, you know, and that I guess that’s partly back to the dilemma that you’re now facing. You know, governments often governments don’t lead. They follow where the general public is new, has moved to. And as you suggested, Canada is now 80 percent, 85 percent urban. And can we create. Can we pay attention to that choice? Those choices that people are making to live in cities and then resource cities appropriately, because that’s population is signaling. That’s where they want the investment to go. The dilemma is, I, I, I wonder and someone has raised it on the chat. If there’s a question about whether municipal government and municipal officials have the capacity to look beyond their own interests, their own narrow little, you know, so that the whole NIMBY dynamic that we see in neighborhoods across the country. And we know that we need affordable housing, for instance, and municipalities, municipal governments have been unable often to do a brave thing around affordable housing because they’ve got a certain constituent group that is resisting introducing mixed housing. Right. So how have you grappled with that in Saskatoon? And how do we demonstrate to Canadians that local local elected officials like you and your council colleagues can actually make tough decisions and move us a move a city together in a collective way?

Mayor Charlie Clark [00:35:06] Yeah, it’s it’s such a crazy situation sometimes because literally and then one day you can move back and forth between these big picture kind of city building dilemma questions and then and then jump into a council meeting and have a two hour debate about one tree on one walk. And then what? You know what’s gonna happen there? And, you know, I’ve been really fortunate to work with a great council through this Term, and I want to recognize their contributions to helping us get through this. This COVID situation. Because is there the collaboration that’s happened there has been really important for our success. And like you say, the about people putting aside some of the, you know, tendencies that we can get into for things to get really tense and political has made a difference, you know, in the face of this. And so in light of how the municipalities both be bold and big picture when you are also really constantly being pulled down to the reality of the neighborhood and. And so I think it’s important, I think what we really need to keep doing and, you know, the National Urban Project has been an interesting exercise. And how do you inform an arm, both municipality and both councils and their administration with the best possible? I mean, I think a huge part of it is communication. People are so aware of their street, their block, their sidewalk.

Mary Rowe [00:36:40] And you want that. You need that to feed in.

Mayor Charlie Clark [00:36:45] Absolutely. But how do you how do you create the conditions for conversations within a municipality to think bigger and broader about where are we going is as a city where what’s the future like? What are the risks if we don’t create and understand what the next generation is going to be looking for in cities? Because that’s where a lot of the urbanists conversation that, you know, in our own community, we’re struggling like many is around bike lanes and other things and and and these quality of life issues. And people are so much more used to what they have and and what’s what they know right now on their street. And that’s in many cases what they want mayors to be focused on. Then what what what is the next five, 10, 15 years need to look like? And and what what it what conditions do we need to be creating for what the realities of tomorrow are going to be? And so I we’ve had some success. We brought Larry Beasley, a chief city planner, the former chief city planner from Vancouver, in with a great group of experts to help talk about the future of our downtown. And I realized that and we’re we’re looking at a possible future arena, but also a new library and a bus rapid transit system to run through and a new convention center and some very big, bold moves that in that in many cases can be completely divisive within a city and can completely turn into us versus them a city versus everybody else kind of dynamics. And it becomes very hard to move forward on projects. And so what we’re trying to do is to make everybody realize this is actually not a conversation that’s about a city council versus the community. Both the whole community talking about what? What do we need to do to make sure our downtown stays strong? Because if it doesn’t stay strong, we’re not going to attract the new tech companies and the investment and all those things. And how do we recognize and hear each other’s points of view as we build that up so that as we move towards that reality, we’ve got a coalition, not not just council, stuck with a tough decision and everybody pulling us in different directions. And and those are the kinds that I think the way we approach decisions and the way we balance experts and thoughtful opinion with with the really important local knowledge that people have, that that is really, really matters as well, that the daily realities that people have on the street and bring that together to have people all feel like that. And they’re not going to convince everybody, especially on Facebook and Twitter these days, but that the vast majority of people say, I can see myself. And in that and even though it’s different than what I’m used to, I understand that we need to we need to make some changes. Not easy, but it’s the thing we’re trying to do. And I really, really I’m learning in this COVID experience has been such a reminder to me about the importance of relationships, the importance of trust and the importance of communications. And over the last you know, I’ve been on council for 14 years now. I’ve been the mayor for just about four years. And I I’ve been through some tough situations with a bunch of our community leaders. I’ve been in and, you know, in debates with the leaders of our business organizations. But we’ve sat down and worked through them over time. And when I first got in, they thought I was a left. The councilor, like a lefty guy who is going to turn the city into a socialist paradise or what? I mean, there was that sort of view when I sat down and I worked through things and we came up with a pretty bold plan around changing our emissions and trying to become more sustainable. And at first, people didn’t like it. But then as we talked about it, people like, wait a second, we need to be part of this answer. This is the way the world is going and through getting through that. By the time this crisis hit, I actually felt like I had enough trust with a lot of these people that we could sit down and talk and and people were willing to work together on that. And I think that is fundamental right now to city building is how do you listen to one another, build enough trust and understanding and have humility to say America is not is not going to have all the answers, her or himself. But but we have to build it together. This. Those that that trust building and relationship building and my office has played a key role, my chief of staff, Michelle Beveridge, has been a really key part of doing this and and our council relationships. That’s what we need to do to be bold, I think. It’s not just taking ideas off the shelf and throwing them at the community. It’s finding a way to get everybody willing to have a conversation.

Mary Rowe [00:41:34] I mean, it’s you know, you and I are on the same page on this in terms of ground up. You know, you have to at the granular is so critically important. Otherwise we end up with strategies and policies that are so removed from on from the actual reality on the ground that they don’t work and that whatever you need in Saskatoon, however you approach it, may be quite different that now they’re going to do it in Sherbrooke. But the great thing that we feel about it CUI is that we want Saskatoon and Sherbrooke to have connections when they can learn. So you can say, oh, you’ve tried that, we’ll try this, you know, do you. Do you think that as we move forward and do we have the right tools in place to really be able to try some things? You know, you’re as I suggested, you’re a little ahead in terms of actually reopening. So you’ll be the first to go to outdoor patios and whatever else. How have you been navigating public space and access to public space? Some colgin. And as you reopen, how are you now getting that?

Mayor Charlie Clark [00:42:31] Yeah, this is something I come into this conversation humbly because I’m aware I’m with the Canadian Urban Institute and Saskatoon has not been one of those cities that’s really blasted open roadways and an open space for our community.

Mary Rowe [00:42:48] why didn’t you?

Mayor Charlie Clark [00:42:50] So what happened was and the when this first started to happen and I realized the traffic was going to shut down quite a bit, there was one of the first things that came to my mind was how well, you know, we’ve just built this new thing, this new rebuilt the traffic bridge, which is an old historic bridge in the middle of our community. It’s got a huge sidewalk access. And and for a long time, I’ve felt like this is a great place to create a…, you know, shut down people and all those things. So. So and there’s certain streets along our beautiful Mewason River Valley that are where people want to go. Right. And so first instinct is let’s create space for people to walk and do things like that. But then the health guidance was you don’t want people to gather. And so and so we we got a quite a bit of pressure from the community to say, hey, come on, let’s do this. You know, this is this is the opportunity to create that urban experience. But I live actually not far from where those main thoroughfares that people would naturally say are. Those are the ones we should open up for. People are. And I see what’s happening. And I realized and it’s a judgment call but that the risk of actually doing that and then people just flocking onto those those streets was was pretty real. And then in those days when when there’s such a fear of spread of this virus, the thing about Saskatoon is we’re one of the lowest density cities in the in the country. We have these incredible, huge green spaces and parks and really wide open areas for people to go. And so in the balancing of do we take streets and open them up and have people use those streets or do we say, please, everybody spread out and use the whole community and all the parks and don’t all basically the message I said, oh, you don’t all go to Mewasan trail. Don’t. All I know you want to. It’s so beautiful. And you’ve been stuck in your house. You can see the pelicans and you can like do all these things, but just go all over the place. We have incredible places all over. And so that has been the kind of approach that we’ve taken, by and large, to doing this. But there is a group of people who are pissed that we haven’t seized that opportunity. And I understand that opportunity and that there’s a learning that can come through this by showing people how great it can be to create more of those spaces. Now, going to do would be to do it on a whole bunch of neighborhood streets. And in my view right now, those neighborhoods streets are actually good places for people right now, and they don’t need to fix a lot of administrative work to clotse streets to do all those things. So I’m hoping we can move on the patios and create some of the those opportunities for for more people to get out and spread out when they’re enjoying lunch and, you know, drinks and all those things and and find some ways to make some success there.

Mary Rowe [00:45:53] I mean, here, you know, here in Toronto, at the center of the universe, you know, we we have been blasted on to the international pages because of the one use of the one park class last Saturday and how that was. Yeah. And as you suggest, it’s become a meme now and it’s a. As we now, we’ve got to navigate a collective future. And as we emerge and as you suggest, in the tough decisions that mayors have to make all the time. What’s the tradeoff? Whereas the risk, which risks do you have to contain wind? So we are appreciative and we get the same feedback that you do know that urbanists have a sense that the spatial environment should be prioritized and that they should have it. You know, they should be allowed to walk out where they can walk out, et cetera. But as you say, now we’ve got public health, public safety. And so I think there’s a serious implications for us going forward about how do we actually make flexibles space. Right.

Mayor Charlie Clark [00:46:50] So, yeah, absolutely. And we’re working our way through and we’ve made it so people can only cross bridges one direction. And, you know, we’re doing a bunch of things to try and provide that safety. And so far, it by and large, I actually think it has worked, worked quite well.

Mary Rowe [00:47:07] You know, part of this improvization thing, I think that, you know, I was in New Orleans after Katrina, so I remember very clearly very different a disaster, much more localized, although at the time it felt overwhelming because it was a region and it affected thousands of people. But I watched there for that period that there was all sorts of community improvization just as you’re suggesting. Well, we make that road in one way, that bridge one way or these laneways can get opened. So it speaks to the point that you raised before we started around leadership and how how do you as a mayor and how do you looking at urban Canada, how can you imagine us now harnessing collective leadership to come up with the solutions? It’s kind of the all hands on deck question and that it has to somehow continue. You’re wearing a t shirt. I want you to speak to that and and just help us as we sort of around the corner at the end of the session to think about how do we actually mobilize collective leadership.

Mayor Charlie Clark [00:48:05] Yeah. So the t shirt is the we got this. YXZ t shirt and this was made by Derek Watson, who’s a local rock radio deejay, actually. And he was realizing, you know, how important it is to have there get people reminded over and over. And we’re in this together and we’re gonna make it through this. And and so he designed this shirt. It’s got the Broadway bridge on it. Most people do that. Yeah. YXZ is the airport call-in indicator. And all of the money raised is going to this joint fund between this Housing Community Foundation and the United Way, which is awesome. Which is all money going to help the frontline agencies that are working with the vulnerable population and to meet the needs of COVID, which has been a really important part of this that I haven’t mentioned as much. But that as we go through this, one of the principles I’ve had as mayor and we’ve had as a community is how do we go through a situation like this to keep the economy going as much as possible, keep our services running, but also leave no one behind and realize that different people are going to have very different challenges. When it comes to COVID, 60 percent of the people who’ve lost jobs have been women in our community, in the hospitality industry. And we’ve got indigenous communities that have been really challenged because they’re used people used to going from the city to the reserve and back and and a lot of fear, a lot of concern and incredible partnerships of grown up to support and find ways to make sure people are supporting the indigenous community new. We have lots of newcomers, Syrian refugee families and people who’ve arrived in our community. We have Iranian families coming even still, who come with no language, with, you know, they don’t have the technology for schooling and all the different things that are needed or really working together to try and make a principal it as a community. We’ve got this means all of us working together make sure no one’s left behind just on that end, because I don’t want that to be lost from this. And I feel like I’ve been able to be quite comfortable through this challenge in our house and our family and our kids and all those things. But not everybody has had that experience. And we’ve got to remember that if we’re gonna be successful in cities and communities, we we work together to realize where are those? Where are those people who are at risk of being left behind when it comes to challenges and leadership, you know, and talking what with what you’re saying, even just about this question of urban space and some of these things. One of the challenges in cities is that you’re under such scrutiny that any mistake become magnified in a huge way. And so I think one of the biggest things we have to figure out is how do you create you know, when you listen to when you’re listening to startups and tech companies and all these places, you know, and I forget who are the woman who is the Yahoo! I think it was her who said fail fast. You know, that failure is actually one of the really important parts of learning. I mean, in the municipalities failure is pounced on and very difficult to. So when you know, when we’re trying to figure out how do you cause experimentation to me, is I actually one of the really important things that we’re going to need to do to especially in light of all that, we do not know where this is going. How do you create the conditions to try things and and be able to fail? And I actually see in the chat that Brant Penner is on there. I saw his name pop up. He’s the executive director of our downtown business improvement district. And that’s been a great partner with us in the city and in sort of talking about how do we create the conditions and change the circumstances for our downtown and figure out how to you know, whether it’s to try and create more experiences of walking and cycling more safely or things like patios or where or some of these new innovations. And how do you enable him to be able to try things where the risk of failure is not, you know, complete political collapse. But I think one of the key things as municipalities and as all of the people who are not municipal is how do you see the council and the mayor and the administration as partners in experimentation? Not because so often the way things play out is it’s the city and the problem. This is something I learned from hurricane funding, who is a Harvard professor, and I was part of the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative. And he said so often in municipalities, I don’t know how much time I have left.

Mary Rowe [00:52:49] So you’re here? Yeah, he’s a. It’s your time. I’m more. But I know you have a hard stop and half hour or so keep doing.

Mayor Charlie Clark [00:52:54] No, I’m okay, actually. So that so often in municipalities you’ve got a problem. Let’s say it’s, you know, are we going to do something really. What was a good example recently, like a like well let’s say how are we going to get more biking in the downtown? And because that’s been a dilemma as Brent know and I know that in in the urban world, that’s been a conversation. And the way it ends up playing out is it’s the city and the problem versus the community. Right. So so it feels like then the city is kind of saying this is a problem and we’re going to try and solve it. And residents start saying, well, you’re trying to force a solution down our throats. What we need to do as communities is to make the make it the city versus and and the community versus the problem. Right. Create the conditions where where you say to the community in a more humble way. Look, we’re faced with this challenge. What are we going to do? Or even just this issue of of safe walking spaces? You know, we’re not trying to force a solution on you about what to do with this. We are trying to say we think that community can be better if we can come up with the solution. And here’s why and here’s what’s at risk if we don’t. And and but we’re going to we don’t know exactly what the right answer is. So we’re going to try something. But we need a little bit of latitude for that to not go well, you know, and conditions to be able to try something that’s really hard in politics, because it does feel like most of the time, whether it’s the media or or the sort of armchair critics are waiting for you to screw up and then say, I told you so. And that that really limits the space to take risk. And and. And so I think that’s what makes us different than with a startup. Oh, my gosh, my dog is just come downstairs and is chasing its tail.

Mary Rowe [00:55:00] That’s fine.

Mayor Charlie Clark [00:55:00] That’s a key point. And that’s we’re going back to. How do you build trusting relationships and confidence with some of the key stakeholders so they know where you’re coming from when you’re trying things and then invite them into the process of taking risks together? I said earlier, I think so much nowadays leadership is about building trust and relationships that you can then bank on when things get tough. And it really that to me is another critical part of it.

Mary Rowe [00:55:30] So, you know, somebody I can drive my colleagues crazy to look for this quote that I think the fail faster is actually Beckett. I think it was fail fast, fail better. But even then, I think Beckett was quoting some other philosophor from before. But this idea that can we allow ourselves. Because you’re saying in the startup world, it’s quite common. But in the public service world, can we cut ourselves a bit more slack, which is, I think what pilots were were a way of doing what we’ve been saying. The whole world’s on a big pilot right this minute. But you try something as you suggest, it’s very hard. And just because you’ll be hung out to dry by some error. But the truth of it is that the provincial and federal governments have even more difficulty trying an experiment because they can’t get their hands on a small area to try to do that. So I wonder, do you think COVID  is actually giving us permission now to improvise and also gives? I think that community members are much more aware that they have to participate in solutions finding. Maybe this is our moment to really drive that home. You have to figure it out.

Mayor Charlie Clark [00:56:36] The most incredible thing about COVID is that nobody can be blamed. I mean, people can try and blame. But in our community, you know, everybody sees what’s happened in New York City, what’s happened in Italy, what’s happed in Wuhan and everybody is going through it together. And so so and nobody has a roadmap for it  and that actually creates a real opportunity for humility. And to me, humility is this is a really key part of how do you. But there’s there’s more latitude in a way in terms of trying to deal with this challenge, because everybody’s also on edge and there’s a lot of emotions and stress. And so you don’t want to it’s not a good time to throw some wild idea into the mix also that that is really going to throw people off. So I do think you’re right and. I had a great presentation by Amy Edmondson, who’s a who’s another Harvard professor as part of this. This Bloomberg Harvard initiative, she wrote a book called Taming. And she makes a real distinction between a pilot project and the teaming and. And the concept of the minimum viable product. And the idea that how do you create the conditions where you get people from different backgrounds and different sort of points of view and meet them more and more with municipalities? You’ve got to fight your stake or you don’t have admin coming up with all the answers and then presenting it to city council and then the community comes in and acts as the judge, you know, that determines whether it’s a good idea or not. But you invite the community in a conversation and you don’t and try not to build big, complicated task force, but just get people in a room for an hour around a problem and say, what can we do? And then what’s a minimum test case for this? Right. So what would be a what would be just a small way to try this and go out and very publicly say we’ve come up with this idea. We don’t know if it’s going to work, but we’re gonna try it. And and and so it’s even like one step before a pilot projects, although, you know, and Brant, you know, would have ideas and things, you know, that we’ve done in the downtown. I mean, in some cases it’s as simple as putting like a ping pong table out or painting a different kind of. And then no problem, we were going to the monitor the results, evaluate this data and then and then make a decision based on that about where to go from here. Way to go from there. So that that idea. And I want to say, you know, it’s a concept I thought a lot about. I still haven’t been able to figure out exactly, you know, the most successfully implemented. But we have some really great community collaboration going on around, especially some of these issues around our downtown, around community safety that where that are lending themselves to some of those types of experiments. So I would just make that distinction between pilot projects that can sometimes end up a lot more complicated then and harder to be have that humility about. And teaming and the ability to do a even even quicker 30 year kind of approach.

Mayor Charlie Clark [00:59:49] Thanks, Mayor Clarke. Emily’s been very good. She sourced Samuel Beckett from Westward Ho. Tried and failed. You might put up. We’ll put up on the chat teaming that book that Mayor Clark just referred to and also the Harvard City Leadership Program, which is funded by the Bloomberg Foundation in New York and which a number of mayors have participated in in an hour, even are currently in or have been your graduate. I think Grinchy mere Kraków is still in it.

Mary Rowe [01:00:12] You’re an alum?

Mayor Charlie Clark [01:00:15] And it’s just that I just as a quick aside, Melvin Carter, who is the mayor of St. Paul, Minneapolis is in the middle of a crisis in their community because of the the. What happened to George Floyd and this terrible, terrible situation with the police there? And I sat beside him. I was we were partners through through our initiative. And now I’m watching him on national TV dealing with this really, really challenging situation in this city. And, boy, what I have so much admiration for Melvin. I learned so much from him in that role and. But those kinds of programs that bring mayors together and  community and city leaders together are so powerful. And I think we’re seeing. I want to put a shout out to that kind of thing. And the urban project, I think, has had elements of that, too, for us to share these kinds of ideas together, because there’s so much similarity between what we’re doing as well. And figure out how to get over these obstacles to change is really, really critical.

Mary Rowe [01:01:25] You know, we’re going to close. But I just to acknowledge that the as we I’ve been describing COVID as a particle accelerator, that preexisting conditions have been made worse or exacerbated significantly by the challenges that the virus is posed to us. And that includes equity issues and and racial tensions and issues that have of how we actually tend foster, as you’re suggesting. Trust and humility and sharing and collect and empathy. And I think that we’re all going to be tested in terms of as we deal now with the long lingering effects of this and the challenges it’s going to continue to pose and whether we can summon our better angels to, as you’re suggesting, have more trust. But also, are there fundamental changes we’re going to have to make to the way we resource cities, plan them, plan neighborhoods, resource neighborhoods, so that there aren’t people in situations of such extraordinary vulnerability that we see in cities across the country. And obviously, as you’re suggesting, across North America. So, Mayor Clark, thank you so much for joining us.

Mayor Charlie Clark [01:02:30] I want to quick comment about that .

Mary Rowe [01:02:33] Yes, of course

Mayor Charlie Clark [01:02:37] We’re going to be tested between hope and fear and the sense the sense that we go get through things, through unity or through division and worse. We’ve seen that before COVID And as we said, as the crisis mode sort of settled passes and the anxiety of this building, and we get we we start to deal with the realities of what their current economic shutdown is going to mean, that we’re going to be tested. I want to give you an example in our community that I’m so proud of. You know, where we’re the province of the Jerrold’s family trial and Colton Bushie and and and the shooting of Colton Bushie, you know, all these really, really difficult, challenging situations in Saskatoon. The tribal council, which is the first nation government that brings together seven different First Nations in our area, has formed a partnership with the Saskatoon Wildlife Federation. So when they’re assessing wildlife federation, learn that there was a real challenge in getting food families who are trying to stay home, who are First Nations families in in the urban environment. But so we’re like some of the supports that normally are in place, specially like when the FEDERAL GOVERNMENT programs, those that mostly go to on reserve members. And there’s this whole really significant urban Indigenous population. The Wildlife Federation learned that they had started to get to know each other between. And these are the hunters in our in our city, you know, in the hunting community and realize the overlap between hunting and game and getting out there on the land with their herd, with the Indigenous population. When they learned about the challenges the tribal council was having in feeding people. They said we got to help them raise thirty five thousand dollars within like two days. And they opened up their kitchen and started cooking lunch lunches and suppers for people and saying, like, we are absolutely behind you. We understand the challenge you have and the worry about trying to keep people safe. And these are the kinds of things that we have to draw on. We have to recognize there are so many ways people can overcome that perceived division. And and when people are deciding, should I be afraid of the future, hopeful about the future, keep drawing people towards that hope. And the last thing. And I’m just it’s just been awesome to watch story after story. Our Muslim community, our Sikh community, all these different communities organizing food drives for people, reaching out and delivering food for the homeless or seniors. There are so many examples where people are deciding to say we’re gonna work together. And and sometimes you don’t see that when you just spend too much time on Facebook or Twitter. So you got to look for those other examples. Our job is to keep the anxiety of the system down. This is something we learned from a guy named Kevin Cameron, who’s a crisis management worker, leader and been helping communities deal with crisis. And everybody who’s listening to this chat is a leader. You all have a role to play in in a crisis like this and helping to guide people towards constructive, thoughtful principle, you know, based on based on being good human beings to each other, values to getting through the stress of the situation. And so I just want to reiterate that because that we are at a critical moment in our country not and I don’t want to slam the U.S., but we can’t let that same divisive thinking predominate the way decisions are made here. It will tear. It will it will set us backwards. And we’ve made a lot of success so far. So I know I’m probably going over time, but I don’t want to undermine on

Mary Rowe [01:06:20] Yeah, it’s fine. I mean, I’m I’m so with you on this in terms of that’s why we put up city share candidates. If anybody is encouraged, go and spend 10 minutes looking at all the remarkable initiatives across the country, to some of which Mayor Clarke referred to as people being resourceful, responsive, innovative in how we actually care for one another and take take opportunities to do things better and to build back better, which is hopefully, I think, where we’re going to end up. And Mary Rowe thank you so much. A very, very thoughtful session with us and for you to share your experiences in Saskatoon, but also your observations as they affect other places, which is. Well, I think that’s why I say in the connective tissue business. But I think for us to win the urban empathy business, for us to, as you suggest, learn from one another and continue to adapt to this remarkable time. So I know it’s not the last time you and I are going to speak. I’m sure there’ll be more opportunities because because the urban life is going to be the way it is in the future. It’s going to be quite different. And we appreciate you spending time with us today and wish you well at City Talk now. Takes a break for a couple of days. And enjoy weekend, whatever weekend is. And then we’re back on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday next week. We are doing city councilors, just as the mayor expressed his colleagues across the country. Back to you as well. We have a panel just of city councilors talking about what they’re seeing on the ground on Thursday. We’re back talking about art and the power of art and culture and how that’s going to take place. As if we just his way, how does it how do we feed our souls and our psyche through this period? And then on Friday, another city talk one on one, this time with Mayor Watson from Ottawa, the nation’s capital. So, Clark, thank you so much for taking the time. We’re really appreciative to continue the conversation, folks, on hashtag city talk. So many issues. We’ll post a summary and the conversation needs to continue.

Mayor Charlie Clark [01:08:08] Thanks again.

Mary Rowe [01:08:09] Thank you. Sign up for my basement. Take care, everybody. Stay safe. Be kind to one another. Thanks, Mayor Clark.

Full Audience
Chatroom Transcript

Note to reader: Chat comments have been edited for ease of readability. The text has not been edited for spelling or grammar. For questions or concerns, please contact events@canurb.org with “Chat Comments” in the subject line.

11:32:53          From Canadian Urban Institute: You can find transcripts and recordings of today’s and all our webinars at https://www.canurb.org/citytalk

11:33:42 From Emily Wall, CUI Staff : Today’s one-on-one conversation is with Charlie Clark, Mayor of Saskatoon, SK.

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11:33:58          From Canadian Urban Institute: CUI is looking for volunteers to help us continue the great work of our COVID-19 initiatives. If you can help, please contact us at covidresponse@canurb.org

11:34:42          From Laurel Davies Snyder: Good morning from Stratford, ON!

11:34:44          From Canadian Urban Institute: Folks, please change your chat settings to “all panelists and attendees” so everyone can see your comments.

11:36:34          From Canadian Urban Institute: Keep the conversation going #citytalk @canurb

11:43:43          From Jared Stephenson to All panelists: 1st – applaud council and administration on navigating this crisis quite well so far.

11:44:17          From Canadian Urban Institute: Welcome new joiners! Just a reminder to please change your chat settings to “all panelists and attendees” so everyone can see your comments.

11:48:17          From Jared Stephenson to All panelists: Question: to what degree do municipal election cycles hamper bold or aggressive municipal decisions for risk of imposing large or unpopular change on ratepayers?

11:49:17          From Alyssa Lefebvre: Edmonton

11:59:28          From Emily Wall, CUI Staff: https://www.saskatchewan.ca/government/news-and-media/2020/may/19/meep-2020

12:04:15          From Abby S: Amen to that

12:07:16          From Canadian Urban Institute: CUI is looking for volunteers to help us continue the great work of our COVID-19 initiatives. If you can help, please contact us at covidresponse@canurb.org

12:10:26          From Emily Wall, CUI Staff: Please help CUI improve its CityTalk programming with a short post-webinar survey – https://bit.ly/2ZEVX2O

12:12:52          From Canadian Urban Institute: You can find transcripts and recordings of today’s and all our webinars at https://www.canurb.org/citytalk

12:15:05          From Brent Penner to All panelists: We really haven’t the pop density to do that – certainly not in our Downtown…we’ve canvassed businesses on streets and they were not supportive either…we have nice wide sidewalks and wide streets, and they want to retain the access for all modes of transportation to get to their destination….we have lots of green space too. City took the right position and business supported that.

12:16:10          From Canadian Urban Institute: Keep the conversation going #citytalk @canurb

12:21:20          From Brent Penner to All panelists: The above info was from Saskatoon – thanks to Mayor Clark for how they’ve handled things thus far!

12:22:19          From Emily Wall, CUI Staff to Brent Penner and all panelists: Can you repost that information to all panelists and attendees?

12:23:02          From Brent Penner: We really haven’t the pop density to do that – certainly not in our Downtown…we’ve canvassed businesses on streets and they were not supportive either…we have nice wide sidewalks and wide streets, and they want to retain the access for all modes of transportation to get to their destination….we have lots of green space too. City took the right position and business supported that.

12:23:11          From Brent Penner: The above info was from Saskatoon – thanks to Mayor Clark for how they’ve handled things thus far!

12:26:58          From Emily Wall, CUI Staff: “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” – from Samuel Beckett’s 1983 story Worstward Ho

12:29:10          From Jared Stephenson to All panelists: Want to discuss crisis in historical sense in how it has allow some of the most seismic changes that are otherwise impossible for reason of politics, social acceptability, etc.?

12:30:57          From Emily Wall, CUI Staff: https://hbswk.hbs.edu/item/the-importance-of-teaming

12:31:06          From Abby S: the corollary is do or do not…there is no Try…Yoda

12:31:50          From Ryan Walker: Wonderful to hear from Mayor Clark. Thank you CUI.

12:32:20          From Emily Wall, CUI Staff: Please help CUI improve its CityTalk programming with a short post-webinar survey – https://bit.ly/2ZEVX2O

12:33:12          From Abby S: The work of CUI is ever more important in responding to your question Mary

12:34:58          From Abby S: What a remarkable story…

12:35:54          From Laurel Davies Snyder: Thank you Mary and Mayor Clark.

12:36:23          From Joanna Clark to All panelists: We have a lot to learn from each other as our cities respond…worth looking at the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction with a key priority to build resilience and “Build Back Better” in recovery, rehabilitation and reconstruction

12:37:18          From Andrea Calla: Thank you Mayor Clark and Mary for a most informative discussion.

12:38:43          From Abby S: Thank you Mayor Clark and Mary!

12:38:46          From Abby S: Be kind