About The Show

Hosted by Zach Jeffries, Saskatoon In Focus explores the issues affecting our community through engaging and informative one-on-one conversations with the key players shaping our city's future. Watch our YouTube channel for new episodes of SIF.

Twitter Updates

Monday, March 12, 2012

Battling Crime, Building Community

As a lifelong Saskatonian, it is always a pleasure to experience this city in a new way or view life here through a different lens.  One of the things I love most about hosting 'Saskatoon In Focus' is when I walk away from most of our interviews, I see Saskatoon just a little bit differently than I did 30 minutes before.

In 2011, in preparation for an interview with Police Chief Clive Weighill, I went out on a police 'ride along'.  Basically, ride along participants become a patrol officer's partner in fighting crime for four hours, seeing, hearing, and doing what they normally do for one evening.  Needless to say, for a 'first-timer', this was an eyeopening experience.  In this case, I was 'along for the ride' on the East side of Saskatoon, driving through the neighbourhoods in which I grew up, live, and work.

Over the course of the evening, we attended to many calls including a break and enter, a loud argument in an apartment building, an altercation at a local pub, and finallly an issue where someone had been stealing doormats from a condominium building.  The condominium door mat call came right at the end of the evening, so on the way back to the station, the Constable and I had a chance to start joking about that particular call.  This light hearted moment is what I most take away from the whole experience.

The Constable shared his philosophy on policing.  He said that with every call that comes in, no matter how trivial it may seem, he always makes sure to approach it with respect and professionalism.  In his words: "How would you feel if you were the one with the broken window or the stolen door mats?  It would be the most important issue to you at that moment."  This stuck with me.  It reminded me that when we deal with other people in our community we must keep in mind that everyone's opinions and problems are valid and we should treat others with respect.

I end every Saskatoon In Focus episode by saying that "we can make Saskatoon the best city in the world." If we all keep this pearl of wisdom in mind as we live and make decisions together in Saskatoon, I know that we will be well on our way to achieving that goal.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

It's Movember!

For those of you who noticed my moustache on the show and decided to drop by the site, welcome!  As you probably already know, it's Movember - that special time of the year where men grow facial hair to raise awareness and money for Prostate Cancer Canada.

This is my first time with this much facial hair and it has been both an interesting and itchy experience.  Please make a donation to Movember in support of my effort: http://mobro.co/zachjeffries

Thank you for your support.  Please keep watching the show in December... I promise the moustache will be gone until next year!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Ward 7 By-Election Today

For those in Saskatoon's Ward 7, today is by-election day.  Please take five minutes out of your day to participate in choosing your next City Councillor.

Here are the candidate profiles from the City of Saskatoon's website: http://www.saskatoon.ca/CITY%20COUNCIL/Elections/ward7byelection/candidateprofiles/Pages/CandidateProfiles.aspx

Here are the candidate video messages that aired on Shaw TV: http://www.youtube.com/user/saskatoonvotes2011

Not sure where to vote?  Find your polling station here: http://www.saskatoon.ca/CITY%20COUNCIL/Elections/ward7byelection/Pages/PollFinder.aspx

Ward 7 includes the neighbourhoods of Exhibition, Queen Elizabeth, Avalon, Adelaide/Churchill, Nutana Suburban Centre, Eastview, and Stonebridge.

Saskatoon is a great city because of the time and energy that residents dedicate to it.  If you live in Ward 7, help to shape our city by getting out to vote today.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Accountability Isn’t Sexy, But It Matters

Over the past few months, I have taken the opportunity to watch many Saskatoon City Council meetings in person at City Hall.  Aside from the meetings with passionate debates on issues like the Traffic Bridge or taxi regulations, the council gallery is usually a pretty empty place.  Despite the small number of people who watch these regular meetings in person, I am always pleasantly shocked by the number of people I speak with who faithfully follow these meetings live on Shaw TV Channel 10.

Having residents watching their City Councillors at work, making local decisions, is a good thing.  This begs the question: why is it so difficult in Saskatoon for many people to access City Council meetings?

Today in Saskatoon, if a local resident wants to watch City Council meetings, that person has two options:
  1. Go to City Hall and watch the meetings in person.
  2. Watch the meeting on Shaw TV.  These meetings are broadcast live and are subsequently rebroadcast later.

So, if someone wants to keep connected to local decision making but does not subscribe to Shaw TV or cannot make it to City Hall for the meeting, they are out of luck.  In a city that rightly claims to be connected and educated, this is not good enough.  Especially when one considers that City Council has very few recorded votes, it is clear that council meetings need to be broadcast and archived online.

In the past six months, it has become obvious that when residents are given an opportunity to get engaged, they get engaged.  There have been exceptionally well attended open houses on the Traffic Bridge, hydro project at the weir, the future of recycling, and many other neighbourhood issues.  I have no doubt that if council meetings were broadcast and archived online that Saskatonians would tune in.

Broadcasting council meetings online is about accessibility and accountability, plain and simple.

In my experience, I know that online streaming is not overly expensive or difficult and that many cities across Canada, including Halifax and Vancouver, already have this technology in place.  In the 2010 budget, City Council even allocated $15,000 toward an online streaming project, but to date, no one can curl up with their laptop and popcorn at home to watch these meetings.  I have it on good authority that despite the budget allocation from a year ago, we still cannot expect this to be done anytime soon.

I fully understand that with any project, there can be unexpected issues that get in the way of timely progress.  Without speculating about the possible holdups, the fact remains that this tool for public accountability has not been a priority of council as a whole.  City Administration is made up of some great professionals who respect the will of their elected bosses and they should not be blamed for the hold up.  When it comes to online meetings, there has not been much political will or pressure to speak of.

I know that this issue is not as sexy as a new bridge or swimming pool, but it does matter and it deserves attention.  In order to emerge from the 1980s, Councillors need to do the necessary follow up to have meetings broadcast and archived online as quickly as possible.  Any less is a disservice to the notion of accountability and to the citizens of Saskatoon.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Why Can't We Be The Best?

A former mentor of mine used to pose the above question when talking about Saskatoon.  "Being the best is not a question of whether we have problems or not, but rather how we deal with them," he would continue.

If we judge ourselves by this method, the question of our success as a city is not one answered with economic data, crime statistics, or a current population count.  Rather, our success is measured by examining the people and the complex processes that go into making a city like Saskatoon work.

This is what Saskatoon In Focus is all about.  Over the coming months, I hope Saskatoon In Focus can examine not only the what, but also the who, how, and why behind the decision making and leadership in our city.  This will be accomplished by using a wide lens that asks questions not just of the 'political' leaders and decision makers, but also of our dedicated leaders in the business community, the arts, and in the non-profit sectors.

Saskatoon In Focus is also about dialogue.  Before each guest's appearance on the show, you will have the opportunity to submit your questions and ideas to be brought up during the interview.  But the discussion shouldn't stop there.  Through this blog, Twitter, and Facebook, anyone can comment on and discuss the show, our guests, and most importantly ideas about the future of Saskatoon.

There are so many things, too numerous to list, that make Saskatoon great.  I hope you'll stay tuned and help me explore the ideas and people behind the headlines that make us the best.

‘Saskatoon In Focus’ is an independently produced interview show that will air on Shaw TV starting October 2010.