The race is on for the Ward 1 candidates in the civic elections. The University of Saskatchewan, along with Sutherland and Forest Grove neighbourhoods, will be choosing their councillor on Nov. 9.
The four candidates running for the seat are Kyla Kitzul, Aron Cory, Kevin Boychuk and incumbent Darren Hill. Each brings their unique perspective and background to the table.
Kitzul is a U of S graduate student with a bachelor’s degree in political studies and history. Kitzul’s professors encouraged her to run for office and she says that her reason for running is that Ward 1 needs a better advocate.
“Ward 1 needed somebody to represent them that [is] better at listening and moving forward with what the whole Ward [needs] in order to bring us together better as a community,” Kitzul said.
Her platform includes bridging the gap between city residents and the Canadian Pacific and Canadian National railways. She also intends to introduce new activities at Spadina Crescent.
“I would like to reduce the speed and/or close off the Spadina Crescent, one section of it, on the weekends to create a walking space for people, for socially-distant outings, and to give food trucks and different businesses an opportunity for commerce in that area.”
Kitzul says her priority with the U of S is supporting the Indigenous professors that have recently expressed grievances.
“I’m fully in support of everything that they say they need from the university, and I don’t believe that our university is living up to what is needed,” Kitzul said. “I will be an active voice in amplifying what needs to be heard.”
Kitzul encourages students to vote since she believes the other candidates are not counting on students showing up to the polls.
“I challenge all students to prove them wrong. Get out and vote,” Kitzul said. “It’s very easy to get it done and to participate in civic politics.”
Cory is a small business owner. He has a PhD in plant sciences from the U of S and was previously a research scientist at the university. He says he is running to strengthen the local community.
“I think that Saskatoon is really full of potential; it’s a really good place to live. I want it to stay that way for myself and my family and everybody else,” Cory said.
Cory wants increased support for community associations and social workers because they are a “really effective way to increase prosperity.”
“We need to support them, because right now, what we are doing is using our police to fit into that space,” Cory said.
His other platform points include increased transparency in the City Hall and improvements in the area of sustainability.
“The city needs to do a lot better job with innovation, and especially when it comes to recycling in the environment,” Cory said.
Within the university, Cory would like to see more engagement and collaboration between the city and the U of S. He referred to a current project called Research Junction, a research partnership between the city and the university which he would like to see extended.
“I would like the city more involved in promoting businesses that are coming out of the university,” Cory said. “I think that we have a huge pool of talent at the University of Saskatchewan; I think it’s being really underutilized.”
He repeats a familiar message to students: to know the candidates and vote.
“It’s really important being informed voters, so read everybody’s platform, try to see which ideas align with yours and go out and vote,” Cory said.
Boychuck has a degree from the U of S in sociology and has a long career of working with addiction through his work in corrections and public safety. Currently, Boychuk is working in the civil sector, hiring civil engineers to work on different projects in the city.
He says one of the reasons he’s running is because he is not satisfied with the performance of the current councillor.
“Our last councillor actually wanted to rescind his vote for the donation that the city had put forward in a contribution to help [the U of S] finish [Merlis Belsher Place] or to get it off the ground,” Boychuk said.
Boychuk says he is a “community-based” candidate and has experience in a wide variety of industries. He wants to use his experience to help the community.
“We need to support the people in our neighbourhoods with more meaningful maintenance budgets.”
He has been involved in the university community for some time. He suggested where the U of S should build its parkade and is grateful the university took his advice. Boychuk would like to continue that relationship with the university.
“We have to preserve some of those old historic sites [like the old barns] to ensure that they’re there for future generations to understand why they were there to begin with,” Boychuk said.
“I have some great ideas for some of the unused portions of the land that have not been developed yet that I think would be very advantageous to the area in general.”
Boychuk believes it is important to foster a good relationship between the city and the U of S and hopes to connect with and work for students in that way.
“I think it’s very important to foster and develop a continued, encouraged relationship between the university and certainly our area in Ward 1,” Boychuk said.
Hill is running for re-election, and according to his website, his “commitment to this community remains unchanged.” He has previously worked in the tourism and communications sector as an entrepreneur and was also the CEO of Junior Achievement Saskatchewan.
In an email to the Sheaf, Hill says his mandate has always been to “have a responsive council” that makes Saskatoon a leader in “environmental initiatives, social programming, economic development, cultural relations and responsible and safe policing.”
His platform for this year’s election is centered around COVID-19 and facing the new challenges that the pandemic brings.
“City Council must have the ability to focus on the immediate needs of safety and well-being, while looking towards the future and understanding how every decision made and every action taken will impact today and tomorrow,” Hill said.
Hill says that the city council has built a great relationship with the U of S and would like to continue the partnership. He mentioned support for the university’s Vision 2057: University Land Use Planning.
In light of the election happening during a pandemic, Hill believes that the role of education in fostering critical thinking has not changed.
“I have always supported students and even more so during the lockdown,” Hill said. “I want to help amplify their voice as they navigate in learning, growing and serving their communities – enduring features of civic responsibility and political action in a democratic society.”
Wardah Anwar | News Editor