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Saskatoon mayor delivers final 'State of the City'

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More than 300 people gathered at TCU Place as Mayor Charlie Clark delivered his final “State of the City” address for the Greater Saskatoon Chamber of Commerce.

“This is always one of the biggest mountains to climb every year,” said Clark, who joked on stage about his nickname, Bike Lane Charlie.

“It’s not my favourite thing to give big speeches, but it’s a powerful way for me to reflect on everything.”

Rather than give a “big speech,” Clark chose to do a fireside chat format with chamber CEO Jason Aebig.

Clark reflected on some of the highlights and things he’s proud of, including the city’s population growth, economic development that’s outperformed the rest of the province, projects like the upcoming Downtown Entertainment and Events District, and building relationships with various groups across Saskatoon.

But he also acknowledges the ongoing issue of crime, homelessness and addiction that haven’t been a bright spot in his tenure.

“The reality, we have some significant challenges that we’re facing,” said Clark.

“I wish we were getting better when it comes to addictions, homelessness, increased weapons on the street and the impact that’s having on families. On overdose deaths, on people, and also on businesses, neighbourhoods. This is a really important part of what we’re grappling with right now as a city.”

Clark had advice for the next mayor of Saskatoon as they take on the role he’s vacating after the fall election.

“Build your team,” Clark advised the future mayor. “And build relationships with the people around you. Because we are living in times where you do not know what crisis or curveball will get thrown at you; if you don’t remember that you’re just part of a group, part of a team. To have people that you can trust in tough times, but also people who can trust you.”

The city is in a transition period. The mayor and numerous councillors are stepping down, there’s a new fire chief, new head of city libraries and a newly-named chief of police.

Aebig says he’s confident the city is headed in the right direction, despite so many changes.

“I think every city goes through these periods of transition,” Aebig told CTV News.

“I have confidence that whoever decides to step up in any of those leadership roles will have the support of the community to do what needs to be done. And we just hope that those leaders are ready for the challenges and the opportunities that we discussed today.”

Following the fireside chat, Clark was presented with a gift for his years of service on city council. The Chamber gave him a framed promotional poster from 1945 that was used to entice new business to the city. 

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