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Petition asking council to hold public meeting to discuss Riverside Mission project location fails

The petitioners also wanted the city to rezone the proposed project lands at 212 and 218 River Street West to prevent community service institutions from operating there and help the charity find a new location.
A sign at 212 and 218 River Street West advertises the forthcoming new home for Riverside Mission. Photo by Jason G. Antonio

A petition asking city council to hold a public meeting to discuss the proposed Riverside Mission project and potentially find a different location for it has failed, the city clerk says.

On June 21, the city clerk’s department received a 200-page petition with 1,928 signatures from a group of residents requesting that the City of Moose Jaw hold a meeting about the proposed construction and future operations of a Souls Harbour Rescue Mission-operated venue at 212 and 218 River Street West.

Furthermore, the group wanted council to amend the zoning bylaw to rezone those two properties to a contract zoning district to support those lands’ development for commercial purposes and not use the lands as community service institutions or supportive housing.

The residents also wanted the city and council to collaborate with Souls Harbour to find an alternate location to construct its community service institution and supportive housing development.

Dawn Lugrin, assistant city clerk, explained during the July 8 regular council meeting that The Cities Act gives voters the authority to submit a petition for a public meeting and to compel council to hold one to discuss a city matter. Further, the Act says five percent of the city’s population must sign the petition to trigger the public meeting.

The Act also says that the city clerk is responsible for determining whether a petition is sufficient by vetting the submitted paperwork and excluding those petitioners who have not satisfied the formalities of the Act, she continued.

Once the city clerk has completed vetting the petition, he or she then determines whether it is sufficient by counting the petitioners who complied with the formalities.

The 2021 Statistics Canada census figures show that Moose Jaw’s population is 33,665, which means the petition would require the signatures of a minimum of 1,683 voters — the petition has 1,928, a council report said.

After reviewing the petition, the city clerk determined that 620 entries were non-compliant with the Act and were excluded from the overall count. Of those non-compliant entries:

  • 600 had incomplete dates, no dates, or dates in the wrong year and in future months
  • One entry had no witness
  • Four people signed the petition twice and accounted for eight entries
  • Five addresses were incomplete, incorrect or not within the City of Moose Jaw
  • 10 entries had incomplete names that contained only a first or last name

A total of 1,308 entries on the petition remained after the city clerk removed the non-compliant entries, which means “the city clerk is required by the provision of the Act to find the petition INSUFFICIENT,” the report said.

The document added that, as per section 109(2) of the Act, the city clerk’s determination about sufficiency or insufficiency is final, while section 109(3) says the council is not required to take any notice of the petition.

Council voted unanimously to receive and file the report, but only after members engaged in a debate more than an hour long about whether to hold a public meeting and whether the project was viable. That debate also included presentations from four people, with three opposed to the project’s location and one representing the project.

The Express will have a more comprehensive story featuring those discussions.

The next regular council meeting is Monday, July 22.