City Council Meeting – February 3, 2020

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Khushi Nayak and Mandapwala, Sault College International Students

Last night, the third City Council Meeting of 2020 happened. 

The meeting started with Jennifer Syrette, Executive Director of the Nimkii-Naabkawagan Family Crisis Centre, talking about the missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. The Indigenous murder rate is seven times higher than the general population. February 14 (2020) will be a day of remembrance for missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.

February is Black History Month. In celebration, the African Caribbean Canadian Association of Northern Ontario hosts a dinner event on February 29th. The theme for this year’s event is “Our Stories: Integration & Black Excellence.” The dinner is from 5-to-9pm at the Grand Gardens North.

Virginia McLeod, Manager of Recreation and Culture, and Kathy Fisher, Curator of the Ermatinger-Clergue National Historic Site, co-presented the announcement of Heritage Week. It starts Monday, February 17th on Family Day. People can try heritage foods and pancakes with fun for the whole family. They invited everyone to experience historic places around Sault Ste. Marie.

The 2019 Heritage Award went to Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre (SRSC). Sean Meades addressed the importance of the SRSC at Algoma University.

Dr. Ron Common, Sault College President, discussed the importance of International Education to the College and Sault community. He addressed some misunderstandings in the community. First, the College receives no government funding for international students. Second, international students do not take jobs from local people. Third, no seats in oversubscribed programs go to international students under any circumstance. 

Khushi Nayak and Mandapwala, two international students, making their home in the Sault talked about their experience at Sault College and working in the Sault. Both of them answered Councillor Paul Christian’s question about what they liked about the Sault by giving a glowing recommendation of how friendly people are in the City. 

Travis Anderson, Future SSM Project Manager, gave an update on Future SSM. A common theme was to focus on the youth population. A big challenge is youth outmigration. Young people are leaving after high school and not coming back. To help retain young people, the Sault needs to develop new graduate employment opportunities, more youth programming, ongoing work with high school guidance councillors, and an RFP for a youth community hub in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). If youth have good-paying jobs, they are more likely to stay. Given the ageing population within Sault, this is becoming a critical issue. 

The City is switching its Employee Benefits to Greenshield Canada for Health and Dental Benefits, and Manulife for Disability and Life Insurance Benefits for the next seven years starting May 1st. The City will save $33,000 per month but must create a $1.3 million reserve fund as a precaution during the transition.

The Cultural Advisory Board recommended the 2020 Cultural Financial Assistance grants recipients. The $75,000 budget approved and the following organizations received assistance:

  • 180 Projects–$3,000
  • African Caribbean Canadian Association of Northern Ontario–$2,000
  • Algoma Art Society–$2,000
  • Algoma Arts Festival Association–$2,000
  • Algoma Conservatory of Music–$3,500
  • Algoma Festival Choir–$5,000
  • Algoma Weavers Guild–$2,000
  • Arts Council of Sault Ste. Marie and District–$15,000
  • Batchewana First Nation–$4,500
  • Congregation Beth Jacob–$2,000
  • In Your Eyes Projects–$1,000
  • Living History Algoma (Algoma 1812)–$3000
  • Over the Rainbow Children’s Entertainment–$3,500
  • Sault Symphony Association–$2,000
  • Sault Theatre Workshop–$2,500
  • Shadows of the Mind Film Festival–$4,000
  • The ArtSpeaks Project–$5,000
  • The Sault Blues Society–$2,000
  • The Sault Community Theatre Centre–$4,300
  • Theatre Ontario Festival 2020–$2,000
  • Thinking Rock Community Arts–$4,700

In the Finn Hill area, Sault Cycling is creating a three-kilometre one-way mountain biking and walking trail. The only cost to the City will be three to four signs at a cost of $3000 per sign. The trailhead signs have a higher cost because of their design and size. Council approved the expenditure.