Recently voted the second most popular big city mayor in Canada after only three months in the position, Mayor Charlie Clark is the talk of the town. Is this acclaim a result of honeymoon feelings, or is Saskatoon’s new mayor really something special?
It should go without saying that any change in City Hall would have been a good one following the municipal election in October 2016. After 13 years of almost unchanging policy, backwards bike helmets, science-fiction initiatives like a dome over downtown and a point-by-point adherence to the flawed Calgary development model, it was high time for a fresh face in Saskatoon’s highest office.
But what has Clark done differently? As his campaign slogan said, are we going to be “the city that got it right?”
It’s one thing to make promises in political positions and another to make good on them. Since his time as mayor, Clark has held true to his campaign points — pushing to increase mobility, inspire discussion and work collaboratively to get things done.
Clark is truly the people’s mayor. Moving to a more accessible approach to city management, he has changed the perceptions and understanding of city council. Gone are the days of dress-code Don Atchison — now we’re seeing open doors.
What’s more, Clark does his best to bring the issues of City Hall directly to citizens of Saskatoon. With a strong media presence, Clark is making communication on all levels a priority for his mayoral day-to-day routine, and it’s a meaningful change.
In November 2016, many Saskatoon residents were able to participate in a survey that asked what people would like to get out of a restructuring of the area around Idylwyld Drive, between 20th and 25th Street. Providing options to ask for greater pedestrian resources, particular aesthetic styles and increased safety, the survey was accessible and made it easy to speak up.
In the future, consider joining the Let’s Talk 2020 panel, introduced by Clark earlier in January. The panel will host a series of discussions, open to the public, focused around opening the floor to residents and providing an opportunity to speak out about the core issues concerning development, economy, health in the community and more. More information can be found about the discussion series at the City of Saskatoon website, saskatoon.ca.
A big election issue that Clark faced on the campaign trail was the push to move forward with negotiations between the City of Saskatoon and its transit workers. Past transit strikes in Saskatoon have meant long and drawn out inconveniences for University of Saskatchewan students and other residents. Clark has begun work with Saskatoon City Transit, which has been in dispute with the city of Saskatoon since 2012, with negotiations continuing, and resolution is near at hand.
That’s not all. Clark has also proven to be good at representing Saskatoon on a national front. It’s easy to forget that we have a seat at the Canadian cities’ dinner table, and we are a key part of a greater country.
Though our influences might not ever be large on the national front, the decisions made in our prairie town are reflected in the actions of our neighbours and big siblings. Clark has more eyes on him than just those of Saskatonians, and he’s working well under that pressure.
On Jan. 20, Clark attended a mayor’s meeting with the Prime Minister in Ottawa. Though merely a face in a crowd of mayors, Clark used the platform to talk about issues that our city faces and addressed plans to make changes. Talking points included fentanyl and climate change realities — important issues to Saskatoon and the greater country.
Saskatoon is on the map like never before with this new “cool” mayor. More than his silver hoop earring and bizarre connections to Hollywood comedians though, Clark is here to guide Saskatoon to a bright and truly shining future.
Photos: Jeremy Britz / Photo Editor