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Yorkton votes in favour of open-air teepee in City Centre Park

Yorkton Tribal Council to cover costs of construction.
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The Recreation and Community Services Committee called a special meeting for July 20, 2022 to hear the presentation from Yorkton Tribal Council and discuss any impacts the project would have on the proposed space.

YORKTON – The Recreation and Community Services Committee delivered their presentation in regards to Yorkton Tribal Council's Teepee Project Installation Request to City Council at Monday night's Council meeting.

"The Yorkton Tribal Council completed a presentation to Yorkton City Council at the June 20, 2022 Council Meeting where they requested that the City support the Yorkton Tribal Council Teepee Project Installation," said Lisa Washington, Manager of Community Culture and Heritage for the City of Yorkton and presenting on behalf of the Recreation and Community Services Committee, adding, "this public art project consists of constructing an open-air, metal-pole teepee over the stage in City Centre Park, as well as placing a teepee at the Yorkton Tourism location on Highway 9."

"Although city council approved the project in principle, they referred the request to Recreation and Community Services Committee to further investigate and report back to council on options which consider the procurement process, public and stakeholder public and feedback and input, Building Code requirements, and the Truth and Reconciliation Framework," said Washington.

Washington said The Recreation and Community Services Committee called a special meeting for July 20, 2022 to hear the presentation from Yorkton Tribal Council and discuss any impacts the project would have on the proposed space.

Washington said the committee discussed several factors including location, safety, vandalism, conflicts with public access regarding the stage and a second structure located at the Tourism Yorkton building.

"As a result of our conversations, the committee strongly encourages maintaining the cultural significance and authenticity of the Teepee Project installation as it can have a significant impact on our community’s path toward Truth and Reconciliation," said Washington, adding, "further, the committee recognizes that the Yorkton Tribal Council are the experts who should determine the cultural significance and authenticity of these installations."

"Since the [July] 20, 2022 Recreation and Community Services Committee meeting, further conversations between the Yorkton Tribal Council and the Mayor have occurred, including alternative options for the Teepee Project Installation location within City Centre Park," said Washington, adding, "the Recreation and Community Services Committee did not offer feedback or thoughts on this location, as it was not an option at that time, however the RCS Committee supports the engagement of any organization that may be impacted by the options being discussed by the City and Yorkton Tribal Council."

"The Recreation and Community Services Committee was unanimous in their support of the project and recommends going forward with it," said Washington.

"As noted, I am a member of the RCS on behalf of Council," said Councillor Randy Goulden, adding, "as you can see in the report there was a healthy discussion with some great suggestions and some good input from the members and good dialogue with the Yorkton Tribal Council – I feel that this is a well-received project and I am in full favour of the recommendation."

Following the presentation from the RCS Committee, City Manager Lonnie Kaal presented.

"As you just heard there was a very detailed report where committee members looked at a variety of different pieces to this project," said Kaal, adding, "subsequent to the committee report there was further discussion that involved an additional option in the City Centre Park and that was that the placing of the teepee could be in the center where the sundial and clock currently are as opposed to being on top of the stage."

"In those conversations I want to emphasize that the Yorkton Tribal Council preferred the center location but they are agreeable to either location and are more than willing to work with Council as to what you determine to be most suitable," said Kaal, adding, "in the event it went in the center, obviously the existing sun-dial would need to be relocated – in discussions with our staff that should be easily done – it is moveable."

Kaal went on to add that the existing instalment could potentially be cleaned up and repurposed on a different site.

"There have been a couple of conversations as to what that different site could be...there's positive options as far as where it could be re-located in keeping with the history and culture and the like," said Kaal, adding, "at worst we would need to construct a concrete metal pad to re-locate it and the cost of this isn't seemingly going to be significant – staff could likely re-locate it – a concrete pad –  we expect that could all be done within around $10,000 with those funds coming out of the rainy day fund should the center determined to be a better location than the stage."

Kaal noted the Yorkton Tribal Council has all the required funds in order to do the project and that the cost in their initial presentation was between $180,000 and $235,000.

"Given the work that has been done it would make sense to designate the Yorkton Tribal Council as the lead on the project," said Kaal noting that the YTC would be able to pick its own suppliers as opposed to going through the public tendering process.

"The city's planning department would work with the lead...we've already received the drawings from C.A. Reed Consulting Engineers which looks perfectly fine – probably only need to have the engineers sign off on the project and basically confirm that the structure is built according to the drawings depending on whichever site is deemed to be the preferred site," said Kaal.

Two options were then presented to council, the original with regards to installing an open-air metal pole teepee on the stage in City Centre Park and another on the grounds of the Yorkton Tourism Visitor Centre.

Kaal read the second option which contained additional information.

"Yorkton City Council authorize administration to enter into an agreement with Yorkton Tribal Council for the installation of an open-air, metal pole teepee in the center of the City Centre Park and an open teepee on the grounds of the Chamber/Tourism Visitor Information Centre which shall include expectations of both parties for ongoing maintenance responsibilities and further that Council engage the Yorkton Tribal Council to preserve the cultural significance and integrity by maintaining it as authentically as possible and as Lisa mentioned – interpretive signage for explanation – in conjunction with the community's truth and reconciliation process," said Kaal, adding, "And further that Yorkton City Council appoint Yorkton Tribal Council as the lead on this project to liaise with City Administration regarding submission of plans and other requirements.  And that City Administration relocate the sun dial and clock with costs up to a maximum of $10,000 to be funded from the Rainy-Day reserve account."

"I move option one and we'll have the first structure built on the stage...second structure out at the tourism building," said Councillor Chris Wyatt, adding, "I'm just a little cautious about moving the clock for $10,000 – being in the construction industry and having to deal with concrete – it's fairly expensive right now and moving the metal plates that are a part of that sun-dial – just seems to be that there's going to be some hidden costs that I believe will exceed $10,000 and probably by quite a bit – I like the idea of the structure on the stage as well."

"I'm not in favour of option one, I would prefer option two," said Councillor Goulden, adding, "I think that option two would have more of a significance – it would be away from the stage, away from the mural and it would have more of a visual appeal and would be easier to be seen – it's more out in the open."

"I do agree with Councilor Wyatt," said Councillor Brears, adding, "just my thoughts from the construction world."

"I look at this project, as we sit and discuss it today, as a win-win situation regardless of the location," said Mayor Hippsley, adding, "as far as the safety factor – that's what the engineers take care of – so not a concern of mine at all – cost is always a concern – I know that the Yorkton Tribal Council has spoken very favourably as to looking after the whole project cost – they've been extremely agreeable – they want this to happen as much as we do...this project is long overdue – it's a huge step forward in the process of truth and reconciliation and it's an obligation and the time is now – it couldn't be more of a perfect time to execute this whole project and get it going as soon as we possibly can."

"I'm great either way – I want that to be very clear – if I got to choose, I would like to see it go to option number two, which lines up where the clock is," said the Mayor.

At this point in the meeting a representative from YTC asked to speak.

"If cost is an issue to remove and relocate the existing clock maybe YTC would be the link to pay for that as well," said Ajay Tadi of Yorkton Tribal Council.

Following discussions about the sun-dial and where it would be located, Councillor Brears asked representatives from the YTC if they had a preference of where the teepee would be constructed.

"We want to put it wherever makes everybody happy," said YTC Tribal Chief, Isabel O’Soup, adding, "it seems like out in the open – away from the mural – is probably the best place to put it," and "we scouted it out – driving around and with a drone – and it's probably most visible in the center of the park and it doesn't affect the mural either, so we're happy with that."

Councillor Wyatt then made a motion to withdraw his motion and Councillor Brears seconded the withdraw of the motion and council voted to move forward.

Following the withdraw, a motion was voted on for option two with all five members of council in attendance voting unanimously in favour of the motion.