Charlie Clark is pushing to differentiate his plan from his mayoral race opponents.
Appearing on Candidate’s Row with Brent Loucks on 650 CKOM Monday evening, Clark came out swinging. He criticized Kelley Moore saying he has more experience than her when it comes to city affairs.
“I’ve learned through rolling up my sleeves and getting involved on council to address the issues the city is facing,” he said. “I have not seen Kelley Moore at any of the meetings.”
He also responded to Tom Wolf’s endorsement of Moore, saying as fellow “outside” candidates, it made sense to see the support.
Clark also took aim at incumbent Don Atchison, knocking him for “passing the buck” on major issues like transit, the Meewasin Valley Authority, and crime.
“He’s tried to avoid responsibility,” he said, adding that Atchison blamed transit negotiations on administration.
On crime, ‘mega-projects’
Clark outlined how he would approach crime differently than his opponents. He said 70 pre cent of current service calls are due to mental health incidents, family “breakdowns,” and minor disturbances, saying police are being strained by the demand.
He said “you can’t arrest your way out of crime” and that as mayor he would push for a more co-ordinated approach with the province as well as mental health and addictions groups.
Criticisms were also levied at Atchison for his campaign promise to remove rail lines from city limits, and to look at the construction of a downtown arena “right away.”
“In order to make sure we can keep taxes down,” he said. “We need to take a break from these mega-projects and focus on re-investing in the parks, the playgrounds, the sidewalks in people’s neighbourhoods and making them safe.”
Clark did leave the door open for considering a downtown arena development and securing the land for the project. But he emphasized that he doesn’t see the arena being built within the next five years.
On Downtown, Urban Sprawl
Clark touted his own approach as one of change, but balance.
He was non-committal on the fate of bike lanes on major roads, saying the city would have to analyze the results of the pilot projects along 4th Avenue and 23rd Street. He did say transportation options in the downtown core were crucial.
“If we only get in and out of the downtown with cars that means we create the parking challenges we have and the traffic challenges,” he said. “We need to… learn from the experience and keep looking at what are the best ways to give transportation choices throughout the city.”
On urban development, he said there’s a need to reduce urban sprawl and focus on “in-fill” projects. He suggested working with the University of Saskatchewan to develop land around campus into neighbourhoods, saying the areas are already serviced by roads thus making it cheaper. He also said he would look at the development of some downtown parking lots.
“We’ve spread ourselves out so thin,” Clark said. “We’re not able to look after what we have while we continue to try to build new.”
But he clarified that he wouldn’t completely eschew newer neighbourhoods, as he says Moore would.
“We need to give people choice,” he said, noting a plan to split development 50-50 between in-fill and expansion.
Taxes and roads
Clark said the focus on reducing urban sprawl would also help the city catch up on maintenance for roads.
He noted the problem is the focus on building new roads further away from Saskatoon’s centre, instead of upkeeping streets that already exist.
He also promised to look for efficiencies to help overhaul road maintenance programs and improve service within the city.
Asked how he would keep taxes down, Clark said there was a need to find efficiencies and increase communication among city departments in order to save money. He also promoted the need to continue to grow and diversify the city’s economy.
“We need to make sure we’re positioning Saskatoon to continue to be the engine of Saskatchewan’s economy,” he said.
Candidate’s Row continues Tuesday evening at 7 p.m. with Kelley Moore. Brent Loucks will also host Don Atchison on Wednesday and Devon Hein on Thursday. You can listen live on 650 CKOM.
With files from Brent Loucks